Outdoor/Brooder Set up 4 week olds

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by lisabug, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. lisabug

    lisabug Songster

    Feb 18, 2008
    Portersville, PA
    I have 4 week old chickens that lived in my kitchen until today. We moved them out the their "coop" which is a non-insulated shed. They have a 10x10 space with food and water. In the corner my husband put our big dog cage bottom and attached their heat lamp but he is letting them go all over the coop. If they can get to a heat source will they? Or should we force them to stay toward one side at night until they are bigger. It is still dropping into the 30s.

    I just don't want them to get to cold. He says they will use the heat source if they need it.
  2. Tuffoldhen

    Tuffoldhen Flock Mistress

    Jan 30, 2007
    Your chicks won't fully feather out til they are 8 to 10 weeks old and then they still need a heatlamp to be able to get under when they are that age in this weather...

    At 4 weeks old they do not have half their feather growth and need a heatlamp with a temp of 75 to 80 degrees under it...
  3. lisabug

    lisabug Songster

    Feb 18, 2008
    Portersville, PA
    As I stated, they have a heat lamp they have access too. It is above the bottom half of a dog cage. Will they CHOOSE to go under the heat lamp or will I have to confine them to a corner. I am just not sure if too much space is bad or if they just have to "have access" to the heat.
  4. GwenFarms

    GwenFarms Songster

    Feb 26, 2008
    If they are cold, they will find heat when its available. Just make sure you have enough space for all of them to get under it. If you don't you may need to add another lamp.
  5. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    I raise all my baby chicks outside from one week old, sooner if it's hot out. For the past two weeks I've had my three week olds outside in a Chick-N-Hutch with a heat lamp only at night and an open hutch into a closed run in the day. Temps at night have been in 50s. I cover the pen on really cold and rainy nights with a plastic tarp. All day long they run and play and when they nap, they nap UNDER the pen where it's shady. At night they all go into hutch on their own and put themselves to bed - rarely under or near the light.

    So, yes, they'll be o.k. outside as long as they are in a protected area and have access to a heat lamp. They'll use it if they need it. However, this is my fourth batch of chicks and I find they spend all night chasing the bugs that fly into the light rather than sleeping under the light. Running around must keep them warm and by morning they are tired and nap a bit till I open the hutch and let them out into yard. Then it's play all day.

    I guess I should add a legal disclaimer that this is strictly my own personal opinion and belief that chicks should be raised as close to natural as possible and be allowed to free range and be chickens as soon as possible.
  6. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    As long as they can get to the heat in a draft free space they will be fine. I regularly kick out week olds to an out door brooder that has a heat lamp so it's about 90 in there. Then I kick them to the grow out coop at 3-4 weeks and take out the light at about 6-7 weeks even if outdoor temps drop into the mid 30's at night. Usually there are at least a dozen that huddle up in a hutch that is 2x4 at this age that is attached to a 4x8 run which gets opened in day hours so they can free range. Luckily I have lots of space so my adults don't really ever bother the babies other than to eat the starter.

    However, every situation is different and you should check on them and if they look cold, then up the heat on them. It's all about how they are doing and how well they are acclimating to conditions. A sudden drop of a 70 deg house to a 30 degree coop over night isn't soo good for any age of a bird, but slow acclimation to lower temps would work once feathered. Night lows will be in the upper 30's to mid 40's here for the next few months so my birds acclimate to cold pretty quick. I raise production breeds and so they are usually fully feathered by 6 weeks old. Non production breeds such as the few Cochins I've had take a few extra weeks like tuffoldhen describes.

    Just watch their behavior and that should tell you what they need.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: