Newbie with question about winter


6 Years
Sep 8, 2013
Waxahachie, tx
First let me start by introducing myself. My name is Nicole and we just moved a little south of Dallas Tx. We just moved to the country (not a country girl so no experience with chickens) and are getting ready for some chicks. We haven't ordered them yet but got the lumber to start the coop.

My 2 questions are.....1) if we got day old chicks (white leghorn, red sex link, RIR and either a barred Plymouth Rock or a black Australorp) this week about what time frame would they be ready to go outside into their coop? I read 4 months and if that is true it would be mid January (temps run 30's to 50's...i have been told). Would this be an okay time to transition them to their coop or should it be warmer before they go in? And 2) are barred Plymouth Rock chickens okay in the texas heat. I read they are cold hardy but couldn't find much about heat.

I apologize in advance for not doing more searching but like I said we just moved and we can't find Internet that services us out here so I have very limited Internet usage on my phone. Thank you in advance for any and all help.

~ Nicole
Welcome to the forum, Nicole. Glad you joined us.

First let me say that you are likely to get a whole lot of conflicting advice on here. We keep chickens in so many different circumstances and conditions that there is hardly ever a right or wrong answer to anything. It’s more a case of what works for you in your unique circumstances.

Are you going to have electricity in your coop? If you are, there is absolutely no reason the chicks can’t go out there on Day 1. I’ve got a 3’ x 6’ brooder permanently built into my 8’ x 12’ coop. My wife would leave me if I tried to raise chicks in the house. They put out a lot of dust, are loud, and just might stink a bit.

I don’t know how big a coop you are planning on building so I can’t go into too much detail in recommendations for you in your unique situation. I don’t know if you could use the entire coop as a brooder or would need to section one area off. I only heat one area of the brooder and let the rest cool off as it will. That’s much like a broody hen. She does not warm the entire universe for her chicks. She warms a small area for them when they need it. A lot of people would be surprised at how much time the chicks spend in cooler areas, whether with a broody or in a brooder that gives them the choice.

So right there is some conflicting advice, 16 weeks versus Day 1. Actually that 16 weeks sounds like someone was going to mix them with an existing flock. I do that at 8 weeks so there is some more differing advice. For some people in certain circumstances 16 weeks is the right age. Some people do it younger than I do.

When can chicks go outside without heat in the temperatures you are talking about when no older chickens are around? It varies some. Part of it depends on what the coop looks like. What you want is a draft-proof coop where the chickens are but one that has good ventilation. A breeze hitting them means wind chill. Not good. Ammonia and moisture can build up in the coop if it’s not ventilated. Ammonia is lighter than air. Warm air rises and carries more moisture with it. If you have some ventilation over their heads when they are sleeping, you are doing it right. Any breezes will be over their heads and the lighter than air stuff can escape.

Part of it depends on how much they are acclimated. If they are used to cooler temperatures they feather out faster so they can better handle cooler temperatures. With my brooder in the coop and by providing heat only at one end and letting the rest really cool down, mine get acclimated well. I’ve put 5 week olds in an unheated grow-out coop at 5 weeks with the overnight lows in the mid-40’s. My grow-out coop has good draft protection and good ventilation. I’ve had 5-1/2 week olds handle temperatures down to the mid-20’s.

I don’t know how you are going to raise yours but I’d be thinking in terms of 5 to 6 weeks, not 16 weeks.

Your Barred Rock should do as well as the others in the heat. Where you are, once your chickens feather out cold will never be a problem. With their down coats, they are just getting comfortable in your winters. Heat is your real danger. Heat can kill any of them. If you could totally free range them during the day they would find enough shade and cool to handle it themselves, but most of us can’t do that. You need to provide as much ventilation as you can in your coop. Don’t worry about a breeze hitting them in the heat. Have ways to provide ventilation below the level they sleep as well as above or even at that roost elevation. Having one entire wall of your coop wire would be good if you can manage it in the summer.

Provide as much shade as you can. Trees, a roof, other buildings, whatever you can. Remember that a roof only provides shade when the sun is overhead. You may need something on the south and west sides as well as a roof.

I don’t mean to frighten you. Many people are very successful in your climate but heat is a real enemy you need to be aware of.

Good luck with it and welcome to the adventure.
Again welcome. Ridgerunner gave you some excellent information. I live just northeast of Dallas so know the climate. At 5 weeks they can go to the coop without any heat as long as it's not January/Febuary. Just get rid of the heat lamp before hand so they are aclimated to the temperature. Like was said, heat is your enemy here. Plenty of shade and water and they should be ok.
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Thank you so much for the welcome and information. We are creating a 5'x5' coop to help create shade (this will help to create shade on most of the run also). We will have hinged windows and roof and the coop will have a section of 2' run under the coop to help ventilate the coop in the summer.

So if the chicks are ready for the coop in oct/nov then they will be old enough n feathered out enough for jan/feb cold?

I have run into a snag with my coop design. I can only find the hardware cloth in 36 inches and I need it in 48". Any ideas how to secure one section of hardware cloth to another and have it still secure against predators and look ok?

Thank you so much for all the help.

~ Nicole
Anytime after they are feathered they can stand the average winter temperatures we have in this area. So by Jan/Feb the will be more than ready.

Hog rings would be an excellent way to secure the hardware cloth together but I have had trouble fining them. They are a c shaped ring that squeezes together to close. The are commonly used for upholstery to hold fabric to a wire metal frame. I wound up just using wire and lacing the pieces together but mine is in a place that is not visable except to my chickens and they don't complain much.
Just looked online and Carquest auto parts apparently carries them. Looked online and everywhere else when I needed them before.

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