putting them out, when can I? (long post)

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by firedove, Mar 25, 2009.

  1. firedove

    firedove Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2008
    Fitzwilliam NH
    Here's my predicament, I've got 28 4 week old mostly Wyandotte chicks in my living room. My coop has no power nor is there a powered building anywhere near it. My chicks are getting too big for the two brooders they are in and the dust they are kicking up is bothering my DHs allergies and can't be doing the rest of us much good either. There is nowhere else to put them but they probably shouldn't stay in the living room much longer.

    My coop is fairly small 8'x8'. I have 9 full grown hens in there now. Most of the chicks are going to be sold in another 4 weeks or so which is why I have so many, they won't all need to live in there permanently. It's still in the 30s or below at night here and only maxing at low 50s during the day some days.

    So the questions are:

    How old should they be before I put them out?

    What do the temps have to be for them to be good out there?

    Will them being the size of my smallest Bantam hen be big enough to hold their own with the older girls?

    They way outnumber the older hens, will that help with their integration into the coop?

    Our set-up is not really meant for adding new chicks into the flock. If I had my way we'd send the 7 original big hens packing and just have the Wyandottes and my two bantam girls but DH really likes our original flock and we need them to keep laying while these babies are growing.

    Would the small size of the coop and large # of chickens that would be in it be enough to keep it warm enough for the chicks to go out a little early? It's completely draft free and just with the 9 hens it is a few degrees warmer in the coop than outside it.

    I'm keeping the chicks at about 75 degrees now, just came down from 80 at the end of last week. They have no issues with being at that temp and several of my favorites will spend hours sitting with me in other parts of the house where it is only 60 degrees, maybe less in the computer room where they like to sit and watch me type (we keep our house cold).

    I'm fairly certain that they aren't feathered enough to go out to the coop just yet but in another week they might have finished feathering out, all they really have left is their necks.

    So that's all the details, answers anyone?

  2. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    The temp should be around 65/70 degrees for the chicks. Putting your 4 week old chicks with your hens is probably not a good idea. The hens can be brutal with the chicks and could even kill them. Some who have integrated their chicks with hens have been successful while others have not.
  3. countrybum

    countrybum Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 15, 2008
    area pop. 96
    On nice days I place my chicks in a cage and place them in with the older chickens, kind of get them use to each other. Then when they hit 6 weeks, I put them in the chick area next to them for 2 weeks, they can see each other through the wire. After that I let them out every other day with the older chickens and when they no longer go back into the chick area and go into the adult coop, is when they stay with the adults. As for temp, I have always gone for 60 and over. Even though the nights are below 60 here, mine have done fine with the boxes of straw in the coop.

    Sounds like a drawn out process, but it has always worked for me.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2009
  4. firedove

    firedove Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2008
    Fitzwilliam NH
    I know they aren't ready to go out just quite yet. They are nearly the size of my little Mille hen already though and she integrated in with the big girls with very little fuss when she was even tinier. My Mille hen, now full grown, is only a little bit taller than the average pigeon though a lot wider built. She is half the size of my other bantam hen and the other bantam hen is half the size of the big hens. My big hens will sometimes give her a peck or two if they think she is out of line but for the most part they ignore her. That is why I'm thinking that the chicks may integrate OK in a few weeks. They are going to have to go out there sooner or later, sooner rather than later. The big girls free range all day so they won't all be locked up together.

    It might not be 65/70 outside day and night until the end of May or early June. Up here they tell you not to plant before Memorial day because of sudden night frosts that occur up until then. It's not unusual for us to see snow right through April. I definitely can't keep these guys in until May or June!

    My barn used to have power and it's right near the coop which allowed a heat lamp to be run in there but the power to the barn was lost shortly after we moved in here, it's a long story, but suffice it to say we will not have power back to the barn any time soon.

    I'm trying to find a big box that I can move them into so they have more room but so far no luck. All the stores I talked to said you have to be in at just the right time to get a big box because they break them down immediately. Also, they will not save one for me either, even after I told them that they could call me as soon as it was in and I would go pick it up. Right now 13 of my chicks are in a 1.5'x2.5' brooder and the other 17 are in a 2'x3' brooder. To say they are cramped is an understatement. So far there has been no picking or fighting but I'm thinking it's only a matter of time. If I can get a great big box I can move them into the garage with a heat lamp but right now even with the space in the garage open, I have nothing to put them out there in.

    I'm really in quite a predicament. Last year we had 8 chicks in the house until 12 weeks so I figured that it wouldn't be a big deal to keep 28 in the house til 7 or 8 weeks. It seems like these chicks are growing a heck of a lot faster than our original flock though. I don't know if it's because they are the Wyandottes which turn out to be large birds, or if my others were just slow growers. I also didn't anticipate how hard it is to find a nice big box! I just didn't prepare enough thinking it was going to be much simpler than it is turning out.
  5. firedove

    firedove Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2008
    Fitzwilliam NH
    I would love to integrate the chicks slowly but have no accommodations for that. The best I could do is let them range together a few times before sticking them all in the coop. I'm reluctant to let the chicks free range though since I'm afraid they would scatter and get lost. It was easy to watch the flock when we had just 8 chicks last year, but keeping track of 30 chicks (and catching them when it's time to come in) is a bit different.

    Any suggestions on letting them range when the time comes?
  6. sherrydeanne

    sherrydeanne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Just yesterday I taped 3 biggish boxes together to make a brooder condo. It's working great! Just tape them together really well and cut huge doorways through it. It's not real stable for moving though, so I'd recommend assembling it in place.
  7. firedove

    firedove Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2008
    Fitzwilliam NH
    Thank you sherrydeanne, that I may be able to do. I think I have 3 medium sized boxes here, I was going to use them to store art supplies, but taping them together to creat a brooder might work nicely, I'll have to check their size though, they may be smaller than I am thinking. Good idea though!
  8. sherrydeanne

    sherrydeanne Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm in the same boat you are, I have 8 4-weekers and it's still really cold here in Mass. The huge rubbermaid just wasn't cutting it, but I don't have power in my coop. If they outgrow those three boxes before they're feathered, I'll just throw another one on.

    I stuck a huge stick through the edges of one box and made a nice roost. One other thing I did was that one of my boxes was fairly short, so I stuck the flaps straight up and taped them together to add some height.

    Good luck [​IMG]
  9. countrybum

    countrybum Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 15, 2008
    area pop. 96
    I do not have electric to my coop either, so I run electric cords and wrap tape around where they connect, to my coop. That allows me to put in a heat lamp if I have youngins and it is getting cold. This is only if I have other chicks in the barn and they are to big to rejoin them. My chicks start out in the house until they are 2 weeks to a month old. Then they get moved out to the barn until they have good height and feathering. From there they go to the coop pen. I usually have them in a cage for the day and the chickens are left in the pen with them, then that evening I take them out and they go into the coop. From there it is up to them. My thing is to add a group and not just 1 or 2, that way they have company.
  10. Donnadzitall

    Donnadzitall Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 5, 2009
    Granite Falls WA
    Is there anyway you can temporarily divide the coop with chicken wire so that they see each other but can't get to each other? That way you can supervise the reactions of the big birds to the newer ones? Once you see that the newness of the new ones being in the coop is gone you can take the wire barrier down?[​IMG]

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