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Outgrowing brooder space

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Bs Peeps, Nov 20, 2015.

  1. Bs Peeps

    Bs Peeps Out Of The Brooder

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    What to do about outgrowing the brooder and not being ready for the coop this time of year?

    I have my first chicks (ever), now 4 weeks old, 8 total; one breed (2 birds) turn out to be slightly larger birds. They are all in a large-dog crate, homemade brooder, and fast outgrowing the brooder space. There is evidence of feather picking by 'someone' and I assume it's due to over crowding/stress and/or otherwise establishing 'pecking order'.

    I'm told it'll be another 4 weeks until they should be fully feathered (8 weeks old); that'll be around Christmas.

    Currently, high temps here are anywhere between mid-40s to mid-50s. Lows recently are in upper 30s. But our winters here in SW Washington are unpredictable.
    Last year I never needed my winter coat, the year before we had single-digit temps for a number of days.

    That said, I seek suggestions, opinions, any useful advice on how to get through the next 4 weeks and the fact that 2-month-olds may be heading to the coop in Dec/Jan. Thanks in advance. (my 4' x 5', ventilated hen house which can be fully shut.)[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2015
  2. dheltzel

    dheltzel Overrun With Chickens

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    Can you temporarily run electric to the coop and put in a hanging light with a 60 or 100w bulb? I would cover the windows, nestboxes and exits to the run. They really don't need much heat at 4 weeks, you can probably turn off the bulb at 6 weeks.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote: Don't believe it. They're ready now if you have electric to the coop and can provide a heat source.
    A mother hen can shield chicks from the cold but she doesn't heat all the ambient air. She provides a warm spot and lots of cool space. Chicks don't need a constant temperature. They only need a warm spot.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  4. azygous

    azygous Overrun With Chickens

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    Move 'em now! Four-week olds are much hardier than you think. They can handle the temps at your locale standing on their little heads with just a place to warm up under. I would forego a heat lamp in favor of a 75 or 100 watt bulb in a fixture that focuses the heat downward. And they may only need the heat at night.

    Watch how much happier the chicks will be after you move them into the coop.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Depends on how warm you've kept the in the brooder, they should be totally off heat by 4weeks inside...if you've taken them outside at all during the day....how many feathers they really have.

    Make them a 'huddle box', put it in the brooder after turning off the heat(you might have to 'persuade' them to use it) then move it out to the coop with them.
    Cardboard box with a bottom a little bigger than what they need to cuddle next to each other without piling and tall enough for them to stand in.
    Cut an opening on one side a couple inches from bottom and big enough for 2-3 of them to go thru at once.
    Fill the bottom with some pine shavings an inch or so deep.
    This will give them a cozy place to sleep/rest, block any drafts and help hold their body heat in.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. Bs Peeps

    Bs Peeps Out Of The Brooder

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    Brooder room was just turned down to 65 degrees by closing the heat register to that room. I can't make it any cooler than that. So to put them out now is a dramatic decrease in temp, all at once, roughly 20-30 degrees throughout the day. (We're now supposed to have freezing temps this weekend. )

    I've read a lot of info on the topic of heat or no heat and read lots of 'experiences' shared. I'm terrified of heat lamps and didn't use one in my brooder. For their first two weeks I used a heating pad laid over a 'chicken cave' I made with wire. The cardboard box idea sounds a bit like that - the huddle spot. I will consider that good idea.

    One expert says if I don't have a generator to deal with a power outage, they are better off not having heat at all so as to avoid a sudden temp change from a power outage. But she's in New England where it's COOOOOOOLLLLLLLLD in the winter.

    I appreciate the input. Happy to read more. I will re-read these.
     
  7. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    I wouldn't move them out without a heat source, I would look to make a bigger brooder somewhere like a shed or garage. I also don't think your coop will be big enough for eight hens. The feather picking is definitely from crowding and boredom, so you need to do something before they actually start drawing blood.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. chixcoop

    chixcoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm also in NE, and have 7 three week old chicks that are planned to be going outside around Christmas time. We're going to run an undergrond electrical wire out to the coop and keep a heat lamp there. We stopped their heat lamp in the house a couple days ago. Also, we need to have electricity in their coop to install some sort of heater to keep their water from freezing. But them going outside sounds alright to me and the other people on this thread.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. azygous

    azygous Overrun With Chickens

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    You are way ahead of the game what with using the heating pad system of brooding. i was excited to read that! That will make moving the chicks into the coop a breeze!

    You do not have to be concerned about either day or night temps. Just rig up their heating pad cave in a cozy spot, plug it in and set it to the setting they have been comfortable under. They will be happy all day running around in their new large quarters and will duck into their cave when they feel the need to warm up. Make sure you elevate the frame enough for them to have enough room. If you see them one top of the cave instead of under it, you may need to lower the setting or raise the frame up higher.

    Being able to return to the warmth and familiarity of the cave will make the transition much easier on them. I raised my chicks under the MHP system also, and moved it into the coop with them. It helped take the edge of the strangeness of the coop for them, even though they didn't need heat much any longer.

    You can be very confident that your chicks will be plenty warm with the heating pad cave since they will choose when and how long they need to be under it to be comfortable. It takes all the guesswork out of this entire endeavor.
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    You could always close the room off from the house and open a window....
    ......or you could just move the heating pad out to the coop with them, if you have a safe power source there.
     
    1 person likes this.

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