Moving chicks outside

Joeschooks

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I raise my chicks indoors and normally move them out to the brooder ring in the shed (draught free) at 4 weeks old. This gives the chicks much more space than I can give them indoors. But I've hatched chicks earlier than usual this year and I'm due to move them to the shed on 1st March. The temperatures here in March are NOT likely to go below freezing and are around 50F during the day. I use a Comfort 16" heat plate but I can't find the manufactures ambient temperature recommendations anywhere. (It is definitely hotter than Brinsea EcoGlow which I also have and can be used down to 50F according to the manufacturer.) Will the chicks be ok with the Comfort plate in the shed from 4 to 8 weeks of age? Is it worth putting a thermostatically controlled convector heater in the shed set to the anti-frost setting?
 

azygous

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The critical factor in moving chicks outside is whether they are sufficiently acclimated to cool temps.

Start by reducing the ambient temp where you have them indoors. Inside of a week, if you can get them used to cooler temps, they should be fine to go outdoors with the warmers you have. On nice days, during this acclimatizing period, you could take them out for playtime during the day. That can hasten the process.

I've had chicks just a week old handle temps ranging from 0C to 10C with a heating pd cave system to warm under, being acclimated from the start to cool temps. So it's not so much the age of the chicks, but whether they have been acclimated to the cool outdoor temps.
 

Harmony Fowl

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With the same sort of acclimation described above, I’ve had two week olds out with an Ecoglow in cold weather. I think with the right precautions, your chicks will adjust well.
 

Chelsa'sChicks

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They should be ok i think with their age, the plate and it being 50 degrees. I would acclimate them before they just go in the shed to stay.
Last fall I put my 5wk chicks outside and still brought them in only at night for 3 days. Day 1 of returning in the house they seemed relieved and relaxed with the familiar box they were used to...By the 3rd day they were fussy and fighting.. so obviously they were cramped and bored and enjoyed staying in the barn.
 
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Joeschooks

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Many helpful comments as always. Thank you all. I think what I will do then is set up my spare heat plate (ecoglow) in the shed in a weeks time and start taking them out there during the day to get them used to the colder temps and keep an eye on them but sounds like they will be fine. I’ll bring them back in at night until March. Thanks all for your advice :)
 

Ol Grey Mare

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The critical factor in moving chicks outside is whether they are sufficiently acclimated to cool temps.

Start by reducing the ambient temp where you have them indoors. Inside of a week, if you can get them used to cooler temps, they should be fine to go outdoors with the warmers you have. On nice days, during this acclimatizing period, you could take them out for playtime during the day. That can hasten the process.

I've had chicks just a week old handle temps ranging from 0C to 10C with a heating pd cave system to warm under, being acclimated from the start to cool temps. So it's not so much the age of the chicks, but whether they have been acclimated to the cool outdoor temps.
You could also give them a wool hen or a huddle box to help them on those nippy nights.

My chicks use a MHP, are brooded outside in April with night time temps down to 20's. But the MHP does a better job keeping the brood space warm than the heat plates do.
X2 to both these posts.....mhp in the coop brooder here too. Even before i was able to brood in the coop (previous locations I had no electric to my coops) I acclimated to cool temps for what many consider "early" moving out @ 4 weeks.
 

Harmony Fowl

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They should be ok i think with their age, the plate and it being 50 degrees. I would acclimate them before they just go in the shed to stay.
Last fall I put my 5wk chicks outside and still brought them in only at night for 3 days. Day 1 of returning in the house they seemed relieved and relaxed with the familiar box they were used to...By the 3rd day they were fussy and fighting.. so obviously they were cramped and bored and enjoyed staying in the barn.
It’s never a firm or scientific criterion, but it always ends up being the one I use. When they are too hard to catch, they are big enough to be out overnight, lol.
 

Joeschooks

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So the chicks are now a couple of days off 3 weeks old and I've just put them in the brooder in the shed for a couple of hours to acclimate to the winter temperatures as a few of you have suggested. BUT we're having a sunny day today and the temperature in the shed is 63 degrees - pretty similar to what they're used to in the house! So do I bring them in as planned and try again for a short period on a colder day OR do I leave them out there tonight (with their Comfort heat plate of course) to acclimate? It is due to drop to 39 degrees here tonight and I think that might be too cold for them but would like to hear what you all think.
 

Harmony Fowl

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I would leave them out for the day and bring them in tonight if they are uncomfortable. Outside should be your new standard. They should be outside unless there is a reason for them not to be. They will do great all day today. If they aren't used to the cold still, I would bring them in maybe at your bedtime, not theirs. Let them feel them natural progression of the heat of the day to darkness and get a taste of colder temperatures. When you go to retrieve them tonight, they'll have made a big step toward dealing with the cold themselves. I'm sure they'll appreciate going inside, but I think you'll find they are more comfortable than you imagined outdoors.
 
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