Question on small space tub vs. putting outisde too early

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by PacsMan, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. PacsMan

    PacsMan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 8, 2009
    Salt Lake Valley
    I have a newbie question on space vs. cold and getting the birds outside.

    We bought 10 chicks. 1 died. When we went to replace her a week later, we ended up with 3 more, not one. (I have NO idea how that happened. They just seemed, so cool.)

    We have a full sized chicken tractor all ready to go…

    My question;
    The 9 are going to be 4 weeks old on Wednesday. They are feathered out. Have back and neck feathers, and I can tell they’re itching to get out of the 35 gallon tub they’re in. But, the 3 of the chicks will be 3 weeks old on Wednesday. They still have back/neck fuzz, and I don’t feel comfortable letting them out full time.

    We also built a “Jr. Tractor” that’s about 6’x3’, but has no nest or covering. The kids take all of the chicks out to ‘play’ with them a couple of times a week when it’s warm enough, but I don’t want to leave them there full time either.

    I do have a 250 watt heater I can put in the tractor.

    The 10 day forecast lows are between 29º and 35º and the highs are 40º and 50º.

    In their current 35 gallon tub, they aren’t having problems with pecking or bothering each other (even with the week younger and slightly smaller ones) but they look crowded.

    Shall I wait until the weekend where 9 will be 4 ½ weeks old, and 3 will be 3 ½ weeks old, or wait a full week for 5 ½ and 4 ½ weeks?

    Maybe take the heater away now, and feather them out faster?

    I don’t want to split them (mostly because I don’t have a 2nd set of feeder/water) and I’m also worried about re-introducing 3 back to the flock after a week.


  2. Omran

    Omran Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2008
    Bagdad KY
    Marty , I would diffnetly wait, because I asked miss Prissy the same ?? before and she said,: that chicks need 95 F first week then 90f seconed week then 85F third week and eah week -5 F so it still cold for them out side, may be wait 10 more days.

  3. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    That's pretty cold temps. I had my outdoors during the day when they were 4 weeks, but that was in the middle of summer. Could you get another tub to hook up and get them more room? Take them out when you can and keep a close eye on their comfort. Get them some bugs and treats--they will go nuts!

    ETA--if you dress them, try using coats and winterwear, instead of summer dresses!
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2009
  4. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 15, 2008
    At 50F you could possibly keep it warm enough. At 29F I highly doubt it. You could try putting the heat lamp out there and stick a thermometer under it. I'd go for 70F absolute minimum and preferably more like 80F. I've had chicks without heat at 80F in the summer by 3weeks old without problems but you also have to account for what temp the chicks are at now. I wouldn't drop them more than 5F from where they are even if that's still 90F. Any drafts or wind will also cool them more and increase their heat requirements along with the temp of the ground they are sitting on. A brooder full of warm shavings sitting on a carpeted floor or mine are on bookshelves is different from ground that is still thawing out.

    If you want them outside soon start adjusting them to no heat now so you can do it slowly. I don't think they feather any faster in cooler weather but they do adjust to it better than a quick drop. They do feather faster on higher protein food. My 5 day olds have wings already because they are on 22% gamebird starter.
  5. Buster

    Buster Back to Work

    I'm in the same boat just to the north of you and I have 7 week old chicks. I'm going to wait another week and then put them in my trailer pen with 2 heat lamps on them and then acclimate them from there.
  6. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    When I move mine outside early with a heat lamp, it's been to solid housing, not out in the open, especially at that young of an age. They need housing out there that will contain the heat and prevent drafts or wind chills. Is your tractor one of the ones that has an enclosed coop incorporated into it or is it more open housing? Would they have enough protection and space, locked into the coop section, if you can do that? I guess it really depends on what you've already built or how you can modify it.

    When moving chicks out of the brooder to their grow-out housing at an earlier age, I maintain the same temperature they have in their existing brooder. Whatever temperature they should have in their brooder, for their age, is the temperature I set up for them in their grow-out housing.

    If I was in your situation, I would just give them a larger brooder. Cardboard boxes work great. I've used one from an upright freezer. We happened to have gotten a new freezer and I saved the box for the chicks. Other people have gotten appliance boxes from stores. They just ask what day the shipments are coming in and go get one.

    Some people also get boxes from grocery stores, like the big watermelon boxes. A couple of people have posted that they used a couple of smaller boxes and just taped them together, to make a bigger box.
  7. scbatz33

    scbatz33 No Vacancy, Belfry Full

    Jan 23, 2009
    South GA
    I have been wondering this too. I'm in western NC and the low is still in the 30's and the high in the 50s.

    I have been given an "outdoor" brooder. It was in a friend's barn. I would have to have it completely outside. It has a wire bottom for the floor on the inside and the outside parts. I was thinking of putting in a solid floor and putting down shavings. I was hoping with the shavings and a lamp this would keep enough heat in.

    We are putting a proper roof on and I could insulate the walls to some extent. I am just concerned about the warmth issue.

    My chicks are 4 weeks olds and are in desperate need of more room. They have quickly outgrown my bathroom! But I am really afraid of losing any baby to the cold.

    Advice please!!
  8. damselfish

    damselfish Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 8, 2008
    Southwest Missouri
    I'd keep them inside a while yet, but give them more room. Consider getting yourself a giant cardboard box. If necessary, break several boxes down and tape them together for the sides, lay one or two flat for the floor, then add bedding, lamp, etc. Duct tape is your friend here (on the floor, too), to keep all that bedding in. The one we are using now is a box from a water heater, plus some added bits. We have 12 chicks in there.

    Voila, free indoor chick housing until they have a few more feathers. Good luck!

    Edited to add: Waving hello to Woodlandwoman, didn't see your similar post before I posted mine!
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2009
  9. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    Putting a solid floor in, with shavings, is a great idea. It sounds like you can make enough modifications to it, to make it work. If it has plywood sides, they will retain heat for you, even without insulation. Just seal any cracks that would allow drafts in, at the level the chicks are at. Then just set it up with a heat lamp and check the temperature. At that point, you'll just have to see where you're at.

    Allow for some ventilation, though. You don't want the entire thing sealed like a plastic bag. [​IMG] They need air to breathe. I'd have this up at the top edge. Also, you need to think about how to adjust the temperature as the chicks get older and the weather warms up, so they don't overheat. By then, you might have other housing available for them, though.
  10. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Unless they go into a draft free coop, I wouldnt put them out yet. Can you divide them into two brooders? That'd be my solution for overcrowding. I personally would do that. Overcrowded conditions make for a damp environment and real problems.

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