Putting chicks outside in winter

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Lhynes1478, Dec 15, 2017.

  1. Lhynes1478

    Lhynes1478 Chirping

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    I got a late hatch this year and have babies that are 7.5 and 9.5wks old. All very feathered. Mostly feather footed breeds I.e. Cochins, d'uccles, silkies, etc. I've had them out in a brooder OUTSIDE with a 250ww red heating bulb over them on only one side of the crate and food and water away from it so they have to acclimate to the cold. Theyve done great! they eat in the booder in the cold areas when its about 0 degrees F outside.

    Last night I put them in the big coop (they go in during the day almost every day with temps at 20ish during day) with probably about 5-7" of bedding and no heat source. They run around like crazy during the day, digging, eating, pecking, etc. no signs of being cold. I left the 5 biggest ones out last night in 5deg F and they did fine, I put in warm water bottles. But now i'm wondering if im moving them out too fast or are they OK if they survive 5F nights already?
     
  2. guineagirl1000

    guineagirl1000 Chirping

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    I would say that if your birds seem healthy and active, then you are doing it fine. if they start huddling up together all the time, or get sick I would slow down a bit.
    hope this helps and good luck! :)
     
    Lhynes1478 likes this.
  3. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

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    Mine went out in similar temps at a similar age and ultimately it really stressed them and illness surfaced and I did lose two birds. I honestly think it was too cold too fast in my case. I want to share this because I have a feeling many people will say to you what they said to me, which is that if they are feathered they will be fine, however at this age they are still small, and everything about the outside coop is new to them (not just the cold) which is stressful. To help them along I supplied heat whenever it was below freezing. It was just in part of the coop and they could fully move away from it if they wanted or all could huddle under it if they wanted. On days I knew it would be very cold they stayed locked in the coop without access to the run because I observed that since everything was new and scary, if they went outside in the cold, they didn't go back in the coop on their own to warm up or get out of the wind or snow (they hadn't figured that out yet) so if I wasn't home and they went out, they'd likely stay out until they were too cold or I got home from work and put them in. Even without heat, locking them in I felt was a good move. They got used to the coop, they learned about the roosts, they stayed out of the wind, they would huddle together, and I think it gave them a safe familiar space. I hope this helps you some. Just try and find ways to make the transition to cold temps gradual if possible, and it doesn't have to mean bringing them back to the brooder. Also I kept the food and water in the coop when they were first starting out so that it would encourage them to hang out inside when it was cold. Now that they are grown, food and water is always outside ;)
     
  4. PlymouthRockExpert

    PlymouthRockExpert In the Brooder

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    They should be ok if you give them a good heat source. But make sure you turn it on for a couple hours in the middle of the day. I live in Wisconsin so I have mine on from 12-2 that works wonderfully!
     
    Lhynes1478 likes this.
  5. Lhynes1478

    Lhynes1478 Chirping

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    Thank you so much for your input! i've been having the same experience. My littles cant find their way back to the coop and will lay under it and ill come out and find them and feel terrible. so i started putting food and water inside of coop and they seem to stay inside. i definitely shut it before dark and do a head count. this is my first time with chicks. I am so worried about the heat lamp ive used this whole 10wks, i just dont want a coop fire. I guess maybe i should invest in something more safe! shipping up here just takes forever, especially with the holiday. I've been trying to leave them out during the day and in the sunlight with 30 deg temps, and then when its really cold i always brought them back to the brooder. but now im worrying theyll never acclimate if i dont let them. its only getting colder here. :( we live up at 10,200ft in the mountains!
     
  6. Lhynes1478

    Lhynes1478 Chirping

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    yeah, I have a heat source in their brooder, but ive been leaving them out of the brooder during the day with no heat. do you have an opinion on a safe heat source? i want to toss my heat lamp before it causes a fire!

    Thank you!
     
  7. red horse ranch

    red horse ranch Crowing

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    I use heat lamps in all my coops but they should be secured at least 3 different ways to avoid being knocked down. Mine are wired to the wall in 2 different places in addition to the hook they are hanging from. I've never had a heat lamp knocked down even tho I also have guineas that fly around inside the henhouse.
    You are right to be concerned about fire tho. I just saw in the paper last night that someone's chicken coop burned to the ground. No report on whether there were chickens inside.... But it's likely that there were. :(

    Even my adults don't want to be outside when it's as cold as you are describing. I would give them access to heat thru the day.
     
  8. JeanR

    JeanR Songster

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    I do not EVER recommend HEAT Lamps. They have burned down more coops and people HOMES every year, than you read about as most are reported just locally. Our County lost 2 homes, 3 barns and 7 coops that were reported==just here, last year! There has been 1 reported already this year! Country wide, the number would surprise you! Actually, a HEAT LAMP concentrates heat right under it--and not in the whole area. Over a roost, if can almost "cook" the chickens under it! AND, a 75W incandescant bulb hung in the same area, will heat the entire coop, with no area too HOT. Use 2 in separate areas, if a larger coop. TO BE CERTAIN of the HEAT --place a thermometer under the light--and also on the wall of the coop. (Some areas will be comfortable with one or 2 60W bulbs. 40 degrees F, is warm enough in he area! BE SURE of your heat source, not just use a HEAT LAMP of any wattage without thermometer checking! BE SAFE, not sorry, and your chickens will thank you--by their comfort and safety. Good luck.
     
  9. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

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    I'm at almost the same altitude in the mountains as well! This is my first winter with my chickens and I definitely got mixed feedback on when (if ever) to heat. My chicks were 7-9 weeks this past April/May, which at times was full on winter, however we had warmer summer temps to look forward to. Your little ones will acclimate eventually. Sometimes I felt I was babying them, other times I worried I was being too harsh. Only you can best judge your chickens in their specific environment. There were definitely nights I felt I was crazy and bringing pullets into my bathtub when it was 0 degrees at midnight, or setting alarms to wake up every few hours and make sure a heat lamp didn't start a fire. Good luck! I think my heat lamp said to mount it at least 18 inches from anything in any direction. I never ran it when I wasn't home. My husband thought I was overdoing it when I attached it a million ways in the coop and would check on it a million times a day. It made me worry less about the chicks getting too cold and worry more about fire so I still didn't sleep! You will find what works for you. I think once your chicks put themselves to bed or you witness them running back up the ramp into the coop to hide from the wind you will know they are in a good place and ready to fend for themselves.
     
  10. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

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    Also, like with the brooder, watch their behavior. If they are outside but all huddled together(mine would all cluster under the ramp), they probably need to go in the coop. If they are scratching around doing chicken things, they are probably fine.
     

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