Moving from brooder to coop in December in MA

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by AmyKate149, Nov 4, 2017.

  1. AmyKate149

    AmyKate149 Hatching

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    Nov 4, 2017
    Hi,
    I am expecting five cold hardy one day old chicks this coming week (Week of 11/4). I hope to move them outside to their coop by mid-December - we live outside of Boston where we anticipate lows to be in the 20s and highs in the 40s. Is this realistic? I would prefer not to use a heat lamp in the coop for fear of fire hazard. Any recommendations to ensure this works and all survive?

    Thank you,
    A
     
  2. Crazy for Chickens!

    Crazy for Chickens! And Nuts For Horses!

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    I would not recommend getting chicks in the winter. Cold hardy breeds are only cold hardy when they grow up, and that does t mean they won't get cold. You will need to make sure and keep a heat lamp on them until at least six weeks, and maybe longer, since it is so cold. I have a heat lamp hanging from the ceiling in the coop. It it a goo two feet or more above the roost, and well away from the straw, so it couldn't catch fire. I turn it on when it gets in the low twentys or lower. I would put it on them when it gets in the twentys, to make sure, since they will be young. Make sure you coop is warm and secure. Any windows, or doors that are open need to be covered up. We use heavy plastic. Hope that helps! :)
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    I hatch chicks in winter and raise them in a brooder in the coop. I’ve had chicks 5-1/2 weeks old go through nights with lows in the mid 20’w Fahrenheit with no supplemental heat. What you are talking about is doable.

    I think they need to be acclimated. My 3’ x 6’ brooder is heated at one end but some mornings the far end might have ice in it. The chicks stay on the warm end when it’s that cold but you’d be surprised at how much time they spend in the cool end when it is pretty cold. So plan on taking your chicks outside a bit in cold weather just to help then get acclimated. It doesn’t take a lot but you might be surprised at how much they enjoy that cool weather.

    I suggest you feed then a Chick Starter, around 20% protein content. That is enough protein to help them get off to a good start and feather out faster. Most chick Starters are in that protein range anyway.

    The coop they are going to needs to have good breeze protection. You do not want a strong breeze blowing on them. But at the same time they need decent ventilation so they can exchange bad air for good. You are not trying to keep the area where they are warm, you are trying to allow them to keep themselves warm with their down coats, just like your wild birds that overwinter. An easy way to accomplish this is to have your ventilation up high so any breezes blow over their heads.

    That’s about it, acclimate them, feed them well, and give them a decent coop. They should be able to do the rest.
     
    aart and Smuvers Farm like this.
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    I agree with RR about brooding in the winter being a possibility. However, I do not and would not brood chicks in the winter. My winter temps can get down to 0*F and stay there 24/7 for days and sometimes a week or more at a time. A winter storm or power outage can be a death sentence.

    That being said, if you want to brood chicks in the winter, it can be done successfully with a few considerations. I'd do it in the coop, not in the house. If you were to brood them in the house, do you have a room that can be closed off completely from the rest of the house? If so, you could start them in there. As they feather out, your goal will be to wean them from the heat. When they are at the point where they do not need heat during the day, you can then start opening the window of that room to acclimate them to the colder temps they will have to live in in the coop. I suggest that you look at the Mother Heating Pad system. Blooie has an excellent article outlining the how to. And there is also a thread that is lengthy. If you take the time to read it, you will see how folks have problem solved their way with the system. After using MHP to brood chicks (I brood them outside in April) I will never consider using a heat lamp to brood chicks again, unless I am brooding more than 50 at a time.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Yes^^^ I do this even in early spring.

    'Mother' Heating pad works great:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/pseudo-brooder-heater-plate.67729/
     
  6. Enid Stowers

    Enid Stowers In the Brooder

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    I have the same problem... I have chicks that I kept in tote brooders with heat lamps in our semi-heated garage who are now 5-6 weeks old. They no longer have the heat lamps and the temp in the garage is about 60. How do I transition them to their coop? I have a walk-in coop that I sectioned off half because there are two juveniles from this summer living in the half with the pop door. I don't really want to heat the coop because they are cold weathered and are tolerating our 5-10 degree weather well right now. Do you recommend I buy the radiant heat pad and attach it to the wall where the 6 week old chicks can reach it but the older ones cannot? Is it safe to keep on a wall close to the ground where the bedding can lay against it? And is the temp adjustable so I can gradually lower it to turn it off eventually? These chickens eventually need to tolerate subzero weather because we live in Montana.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    If they are totally off heat, and hopefully have spent some time outside....Huddle box, might be able to use the totes on their sides.

    Make them a 'huddle box', put it in the brooder after turning off the heat(you might have to 'persuade' them to use it) then move it out to the coop with them.

    Cardboard box with a bottom a little bigger than what they need to cuddle next to each other without piling and tall enough for them to stand in.

    Cut an opening on one side a couple inches from bottom and big enough for 2-3 of them to go thru at once.

    Fill the bottom with some pine shavings an inch or so deep.

    This will give them a cozy place to sleep/rest, block any drafts and help hold their body heat in.
     
  8. Enid Stowers

    Enid Stowers In the Brooder

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    Great idea, thanks! So they don't use a heat lamp anymore, as they are in the 60 degree garage. Maybe once a day I'm home long enough to open the garage door for about 15 min or so to give them a blast of our 5 degree weather. I will check the temp in the coop but when I went there today it didn't feel as cold as the outdoors due to the litter I think. Should I put 2 boxes in so they don't fight? There are 11 chicks.... 7 regular sized ones and 4 bantams (three of those are even smaller as Silkies). They are living in 4 separate tote brooders mixed up a bit so the large ones get used to tolerating the bantams.
     

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