new to Free ranging and chicks in colder climate

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Ecomama, May 9, 2008.

  1. Ecomama

    Ecomama New Egg

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    May 9, 2008
    Whew- long title. The short story is that we just inherited two lovely, friendly hens and their filthy coop. They roam all day and we shut them in at night. I just bought five chicks who are now about 1 1/2 weeks old (my best guess is that they were a few days old when I got them) and are still living inside the house in a box because I haven't gotten the coop cleaned out yet. There are no laying boxes except for two big boxes my husband built, and I'm not sure how to best transition the chicks to a free-range life. Especially with the one remaining older hen (lost one to a coyote, we think) ruling the roost. It's about 25-30 F at night and 50-60 during the day. It gets hot here pretty quick (Bend, Oregon), we're just not there yet! Should I set up a separate space for the chicks for now, away from the coop so our free-ranger can still be free? Should I let them start roaming during the day and keep them locked up most of the time? How young can I let them run free? I don't want to hurt my chicks, but I hate keeping them cooped up in this warm box! They're starting to look more inquisitive about the outside world. Thanks for all your advice! I love this site! I'd include a pic but can't quite figure out how...
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2008
  2. plfreitag

    plfreitag Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 28, 2007
    wright city mo
    The chicks should be under a heat lamp, raised as needed until they are feathered out at between 6-8 weeks of age. At 1 1/2 weeks the heat lamp should keep the brooder area between 85 and 90 degrees. They'll let you know if it's too cool by huddling together, or too warm by all staying as far from the light as possible. I don't use a thermometer - I use my chicks as a gauge of where the lamp should be.

    They can be out in the daytime if it's 75 degrees or warmer after about 4 weeks of age, but I wouldn't let them out with the adults yet.

    For a brooder space, you'll need to allow about 1/2 square feet of space per chick, or more if necessary. I have 36 chicks in 24 square feet of space, and at 4 weeks of age they are beginning to feel a bit territorial. Once they hit 6 weeks I'll seal off part of the outer area we have for the big birds (it's in 2 sections with a sliding door between because hubby did it in two stages - the first one is covered and the second has netting over it) and let the babies out in the outside covered area during the day so they won't be all over each other.

    Once they're about 10-12 weeks old, I'll figure out a way to let the babies get out with the adults while leaving them access to their sleeping and eating area so that they have an escape if they need it. The trick is making the entrance to their area big enough for them but too small for the big birds. I have two options for that and I'll get to it when I get to it.

    Once they're fully integrated and mostly getting along I'll remove the separating barrier and they can hang out together till the babies start laying, at which time most of the older birds will become intimately acquainted with the inside of my deep freeze. I made the mistake of mixing Leghorns with more gentle breeds and my poor Wyandotte - the one that is left out of 4 - is at the bottom of the pecking order and everyone knows it. I didn't know they were so aggressive or I'd not have bought them.

    This time I got breeds all purported to be mellow and gentle. I hope.

    I hope this helps...

    Trisha in MO

    Trisha in MO
     
  3. Ecomama

    Ecomama New Egg

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    May 9, 2008
    Thanks, Trisha! I realize now that I got a mixed bag that may not be good... I got Black Sexlinks (3) and Buff Orpingtons (2). I can already see that the pale guys are the underlings. [​IMG] One of the blackies is pretty weenie, too, tho'. I did take them outside today (nice sunny day) for a few minutes under close supervision in a closed fenced area I set up. I mostly wanted to get them into the sun and it seems to have made them a little less claustrophobic. The big hen was NOT excited to see them. I hope to get more ideas! Thanks so much!
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2008
  4. plfreitag

    plfreitag Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 28, 2007
    wright city mo
    The black sex links aren't bad. It was the leghorns that drove me bats with their aggressiveness. I have sex links and they were pretty nice to my wyandottes unless someone else started pecking at them.

    Trisha
     

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