Outdoor Brooding

LLCoyote

Chirping
8 Years
May 24, 2011
191
9
93
My chicks are around a week old now and I live in TN where the weather is pretty nice. After my last experience of having chicks in my house for more than two months, I'd really like to try outdoor brooding. Unfortunately I can't find a lot of specific information on it. I was going to build the brooder out of some spare sheets of wood I have laying about which would end up being a 5x5 foot pen (I only have three chicks this time).

My question is, where should I put it? I have a large porch, I could put it on the porch if I had to, or I could put it in the coop. My worry about putting it in the coop is having the other girls mess with them (standing on the side and pooping on them through the wire). Which would be a better option? The porch is open, so wind flows all around it but if the brooder had 2 ft tall sides would that matter? Any opinions or links you have on outdoor brooding would be really helpful.
 

eviemethugh

Chirping
May 14, 2015
280
56
98
North Carolina
We have been putting them outside as soon as they are 3 weeks old, we know people who put them out as young as 1.5 weeks. Choose a day where there will be no rain, and put them out first thing in the morning. As long as the weather doesn't fluctuate more than 30 degrees in one day, they will be okay. We harden ours off more quickly at about 2 degrees a day after the first week until 70/75 degrees so they don't need a heat lamp anymore. Of course, if the chicks aren't adjusting to this schedule, you can change it to suit them (slow down.) if the weather does dip, do everything you can. Their first rain, take them extra dry bedding. Their first few nights, make sure they are sleeping in the safest place.
We put our brooder right on the grass is the front yard, so they are close enough to have a little more protection. Being on the grass and not on bedding was a really important aspect to us since we raise broilers who have such a short life anyway, so I'm not sure about outdoor brooders with bedding.
One of the outdoor brooders we have right now has full paneled sides, but we have also used regular runs with chicken wire. We also have a few babies in a brooder in an electric fence with our older laying hens, I do think this provides extra protection for them. And there are funny antics like the hens trying to reach in to eat the brooder food, and the first night the rooster tried so hard to round them up to go to bed!! Haha! We move their brooder around inside the electric fence area, they also have an area of hard roof for shade and rain protection. Some of the hens do try to get on top, but not often because it is 2.5 feet tall to fit geese in it.
Sorry so long!
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,121
19,606
857
Southeast Louisiana
My 3’ x 6’ brooder is built into the coop. The top acts as my droppings board under the roosts. The chicks go into that straight from the incubator, whether it is below freezing outside or extremely warm. You need to be able to adjust for different conditions. I heat one end and let the rest cool off as it will. When it is below freezing outside I wrap it and keep one end toasty but the other end may have ice in it. They stay on the warm end but on warmer days they play all over. They are really good at self-regulating. I might keep the heat on until they are five weeks old, but even if it is around freezing the heat goes off after five weeks. By then they have acclimated to the colder temperatures and don’t need it.

One summer during a ridiculous heat wave I turned the daytime heat off at 2 day and the overnight heat off at 5 days. Their body language told me they didn’t need it and they were right. You really do have to stay flexible. Usually the weather is not that extreme at either end so each time is unique. You need to watch them and let them tell you what you need to do.

By raising them in the coop with the adults I can integrate them at a fairly young age, anywhere from 5 to 8 weeks normally but I have a lot of space so that helps make a difference. If you can provide them a warm spot so they can warm up when they need to and protection from predators (which may include the older chickens) there is no reason to ever brood them in the house.

700
 

LLCoyote

Chirping
8 Years
May 24, 2011
191
9
93
Wow! Thank you guys very much! There's a lot of stuff I didn't consider. I really appreciate it.
 

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