Newbie here. Question abuot young chicks and outside coop.

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by new_to_the_coop, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. new_to_the_coop

    new_to_the_coop Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi everyone. I am completely new to this, and have a BIG question about the proper age at which chicks can live full-time outside. I live in Buffalo, and as you probably know, it gets pretty cold here. One can never tell when the cold will blow in, as we have often had very warm Octobers (warm enough for a bumper crop of tomatoes). Anyways, I was hoping to get two chickens from a local farmer who will be hatching out a large number this September. I really can't keep the new chicks in the house; I work full-time and I have 2 cats and a large dog. I don't know the breed of chicken; but one would have to assume that they are a hearty breed (since I am getting them from a local). At any rate, how old do they have to be to be left outside full-time???? Keeping in mind I will have a heat lamp for them. I'd like to get them as young as possible to handle the cold (but not too young). THANK YOU EVERYONE!!! [​IMG]
    P.S. What watt heat lamp should I use?

    Sorry if this is a repeat question [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2010
  2. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Generally when they are feathered out, which is usually at about 6 weeks of age. They will need a heat lamp when they are little. Do you have a garage or outbuilding you can raise them in? I don't brood mine in the house, but use an outbuilding with a heat lamp until they are old enough.

    ETA: I have raised mine in an insulated outbuilding from the first day of hatch with a heat lamp and have had no problems. As long as you can keep the temperature stable, they will be fine. I start mine at 85 degrees and decrease 5 degrees each week. (by raising the heat lamp) My chicks are just too hot at 90 degrees. Just make sure you double secure the lamp to prevent a fire. I hang mine from a chain, then zip tie it to an alternate spot, so if the chain fails, the zip ties will hold it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 31, 2010
  3. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Quote:I'm buying a brooder coop thing to start brooding mine on the back porch. Because I have some eggs in incubators, I want the littlest new hatchlings to stay in the house for a couple weeks, then move them out to the brooder on the back porch, with a heat lamp as necessary.

    I won't move them outside until they are about 4 weeks old..... or maybe 3 weeks old and then I'll move 'em to grow out coop(s) when they're 8 weeks old and don't need the supplemental heat at night any more.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2010
  4. GwenDellAnno

    GwenDellAnno Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You are keeping them with the broodies??? I've heard others in cold climates say that the hens will take them out very early on in cool weather. If the chicks get cool they will simply cuddle back under the hen for warmth. I wouldn't worry about them in Buffalo unless you get a snowstorm threatening. (PS: I grew up in Fort Erie ~ across the river) so I know what your weather is like!!
     
  5. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome to BYC!

    As long as you can give them a draft free environment where they can stay warm under the lamp, they will be fine. I live in Texas, so it's a little different for me, but i put all my chicks in an outdoor brooder under a lamp. If it gets too cold outside, i just block off the windows. I'd do it in the middle of winter (i know; our winter is a joke compared to yours) without worry.
     
  6. carrlr

    carrlr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I use a "Red" 250 Watt heat lamp. I start them at 90 and then decrease 5 degrees per week until they are fully feathered out. I use red because it doesn't seem to keep them from resting but provides heat. I also use an oblong poly stock tank for a brooder with the heat source at one end, so they can get away from the heat if they want/need to.
     
  7. new_to_the_coop

    new_to_the_coop Out Of The Brooder

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    THANKS for the swift replies everyone! I will be on this board often, since I know I will need LOTS of advice. Here's some details. They will be housed in a small Amish built coop; right outside my house (we live in a suburb). We haven't ordered it yet, but I am asking him to build us a 4x5. Tomorrow is the big trip down to Amish country!!! Not too sure about actual "insulation"; but the coop will be very solidly built, without draft. That, plus we'll have a heat lamp and water heater. So, it looks like I'll be fine to put them out at about 6 weeks?

    I think I'll ask my farmer friend to keep them until 6 weeks, then I'll pick them up. Or, I guess I can keep them in my basement in a brooder if they want to hand them off shortly after hatching... I'd love to have them shortly after hatching, but I think I need to take this one step at a time!!!! [​IMG] Oh, and they are Rhode Island Reds (which I guess are extremely cold resilient)??? Wish me luck!!! [​IMG]

    My kids, friends and family are all so excited!!! I always wanted to provide my kids with more than the "typical" suburban experience. Now we're sure to be known as the "chicken people"!!! [​IMG]
     
  8. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Oh, but raising/brooding them yourself allows you to learn their personalities as they grow, and for them to get used to y'all! If you handle them daily, they get more used to you.....
     
  9. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree, raising them from a young age is so much fun. It gives you time to handle them everyday to make them friendly chickens. (of course they all go through the don't kill me stage)

    Some tips for raising your chicks from day olds:

    Have the brooder temp at 85-90 degrees. I find mine are more comfortable at 85, 90 is too hot for mine. If they are panting or away from the lamp, they are too hot, if they are huddled on top of each other chirping, they are too cold. Decrease the temperature by 5 degrees each week.

    Put marbles or round rocks in the water dish. Young chicks can drown in a small amount of water as they frequently fall asleep while standing. You can take the marbles out by a week of age.

    Put them on paper towels until they learn where the food is. Once they know where food is (about a week), then let them be on shavings.

    Never raise chicks on newspaper. It is slippery and can cause leg problems. (same goes for concrete) Also cedar is bad for chickens.

    I know it seems overwhelming, but they are pretty easy to care for. (much easier than a puppy) Once they are a week old, you can elevate the water dish on a chunk of 2X4 so they don't kick the shavings into the waterer. Handle your chicks everyday if you want really friendly chickens. Come at them slowly and don't make sudden noises and they will get used to you fast. (they have a natural fear of things from above) Of course you will always have 1 or 2 that are just not the cuddly type, and that's okay too. (For me it's my buttercup, she always makes sure she's an arms length away)
     
  10. KimberlyJ

    KimberlyJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Maybe you can compromise.......pick the chicks up at about two weeks old or so. Especially if you have younger children that may want to handle the little ones too much. That way you can still hand raise them, but not have such fragile day olds.

    I taught mind to drink out of a water bottle like a rabbit uses. I love it. Never had to worry about a drowned chick. I transfered the water bottles out to the coop with them and I never have a problem with bedding in the water.

    Good Luck and enjoy them...they grow up so fast and then you wait forever for eggs.[​IMG]
     

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