Newbie questions about 8 week old chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by packobeagles, Sep 22, 2012.

  1. packobeagles

    packobeagles Chirping

    Aug 20, 2012
    kansas city, missouri
    I am brand new to this. My 4 eight week old chicks are outside full time as of the beginning of this week. They already put themselves to bed at night :)
    My question is about heat. There seems to be a great number of opinions but I don't know what I should do in my case. The coop is 4x5 and we are in the process of insulating it with 1 inch foam sandwiched between two sides. We only have two sides done. It doesn't seem to be holding much heat at night yet. Hopefully it will be better when we are done insulating it. Last night got down to 54 and it the min temp was 58 in the coop. There is talk of it getting down to 30's soon. Should I heat the coop? Can the 8 weeks old chicks handle the 30 degree nights? I don't know how much heat they put out since they are still young. If I do heat the coop what do you recommend? There is electricity run to the coop and we have installed a light fixture on the roof.

    Also, I made a dirt bath mixture of dirt and DE and put it in a shallow bucket. They have already started dust bathing in it. However yesterday they started eating the dirt mixture. They have free choice chick grit and I am sure they get grit off the ground too. Why are they eating the dirt? Will it hurt them? Silly birds.

    Oh, what can I give them for entertainment? Their run is 10x12 so hopefully they have enough room but I worry they get bored . I also have a portable playpen to move them about in the yard.

    A little info on the chicks. My hubby got them for me from My Pet Chicken. Hopefully they are all girls as he payed for the sexing. There are 2 australorps, 1 buff brahma and one polish crested. There is no chest bumping or anything. They seem to get along really well. The all preen each other. The only thing they do is "square up" sometimes (except the polish). I am assuming they are establishing pecking order. The polish and brahma are so sweet. They like attention and hop in my lap and hunker down for naps. They like to be pet and I can pick them up anytime. The ausies only like attention on their terms, lol. They will hop up in my lap if they feel like it but don't like being handled.

    Thank you in advance for any advice!

  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland

    Your chicks are old enough to sleep outside, even if it's cold. Especially if you are giving them a nice, insulated coop to sleep in! Once the chicks are fully feathered they are able to maintain adequate body heat and don't mind the cold so much. They will also huddle together and keep each other warm. As long as you make sure their coop is draught free and rain proof they'll be fine in there.
    As for the dirt eating, it's normal. If my shoes are muddy my chickens will peck the mud off it and eat it. They seem to like the taste [​IMG]
    For entertainment you can hang a cabbage in the run/coop for them or apples. It'll keep them amused and give them something healthy to eat at the same time.
  3. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Crowing

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    I would add that in addition to being draft free, you need to establish good ventilation. If you have a well-ventilated, draft-free coop, there is no need for heating it - as a matter of fact that will just delay the chicks' ability to acclimate to the colder weather.
  4. maidenwolfx80

    maidenwolfx80 Songster

    Jul 26, 2012
    Welcome, I'm from MIssouri too!!! I know what you mean about the cool nights. Since they are outside they are slowly getting used to the colder weather. I do not heat my coop. With it being insulated as well as you describe they will be just fine. Put a outdoor thermomator in there and as long as it is about freezing they will be fine. Definatley like other BYCers say make it draft free but make sure you still have plenty of ventilation. Sounds like a great set up and they will have a cozy winter. They need to get used to the cold you dont want them to stay too warm at night and then go out into colder air, they will start getting ill.
    They will eat the dirt that is how they get minerals that they otherwise lack in daily diet, it is perfectly normal.
    Good luck with your new family. This forum has helped me tons and I am sure it will help you too. Keep in touch I love chatting with MO people [​IMG]
  5. Ts Farm Eggs

    Ts Farm Eggs In the Brooder

    Aug 16, 2012
    you can hang a heat lamp to make sure they are warm enough. That is what i did make sure it's a red bulb because it happens to keep them from pecking each other.[​IMG]

  6. packobeagles

    packobeagles Chirping

    Aug 20, 2012
    kansas city, missouri
    Thank you everyone! They did well with the cool night temps we had over the weekend so all is well. I tried to hang a 1/4 head of cabbage in their run but they wanted nothing to do with it. They don't seem to eat anything unless I cut it up in small pieces for them, lol, spoiled brats. They are 9 weeks old today!
    The issue we have right now is that all the chicks but the polish crested are roosting. Right around their "bed time" I hear her peeping loudly on the floor of the coop. Last night and tonight I put her up on the roost with the others and she stayed up there and snuggled up with the others. I don't know if she just can't get up there or what. They are using the lowest roost which is about 16 inches off the floor. The others hop right up with no problem. There isn't a ladder or anything because the coop is small and we didn't want to take up floor space. Should I try to lean something up to it to see if she can climb up? The polish crested is definitely my special needs girl, lol.
  7. RonC

    RonC Songster

    Feb 28, 2012
    Might set a box or milk crate so she can use it to get to the roost.
  8. packobeagles

    packobeagles Chirping

    Aug 20, 2012
    kansas city, missouri
    Here are some pics of the chicks I took today. They are 9 weeks old. As you can see the polish's crest is totally lopsided! I hope it fills in. I am thinking of trimming it though so she can see to get up on the roost at night.

  9. 1littleacre

    1littleacre Hatching

    Sep 25, 2012
    Sequim, Washington
    Hi, about them not wanting to eat anything unless it is chopped up, try this, go and buy a good sized zucchini, summer or winter squach, just cut it in half and put it out there for them, they absolutely love squach and they will peck it right down to nothing, this helped a few of my 5 week old chicks who were wearing out my food processer. Once they realised they could dive right in there and pig out, they started pecking out pieces from other veggies.

  10. packobeagles

    packobeagles Chirping

    Aug 20, 2012
    kansas city, missouri
    I was at the store today and picked up a pumpkin pie pumpkin for them. I am going to give it a try tomorrow :)

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