Questions about graduating chicks to an open run full-time

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Alys, Oct 27, 2012.

  1. Alys

    Alys Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 13, 2012
    Orlando, Florida
    I've also posted this content under the heading "Can you make suggestions on how to finish our Chicken Run?" so if it feels familiar, I apologize. I did wind up asking questions about raising the girls as well, so thought it would get more response to those questions here.

    Here's our "Ghetto Run" as it stands today:

    [​IMG]

    As we're in Central Florida, I don't think an enclosed house is necessary, as overall we need to worry about keeping them cool for 300+ days a year rather than giving them a place to keep warm for the 5-6 nights a year we get temperatures around the freezing point. So, the general plan is that the left side is the nest-box area, enclosed in wood on three sides (for privacy) with a drop-down door on the rear to access the (highly anticipated!) eggs and clean the boxes. The sides are wrapped with 2' wide chicken wire (to keep the little girls IN) that is covered with 3' wide 2"x4" welded wire (to keep predators OUT) and the roof will be covered with the 2"x4" wire. The corrogated roofing will eventually all be over the nest-box end of the run, but we ran out of the wire for the roof, so it is being used as a temporary sky protection for the time being. There's also plastic sheeting over the entire thing right now to protect the girls from Hurricane Sandy's rain, and the whole thing is being held down with planks, branches and other stuff because it's WINDY! The towel at the front is to block the nightlight from the street (chickens are illegal here... no need to advertise our contraband). Eventually we're going to mount 2x4" roosts at the front of the run as well, plus some other perches/branches throughout. We're going to line the outside edge of the base with corner stucco wire:
    [​IMG]

    to prevent rodents digging under. It's sharp-ish and has worked wonders keeping critters (and my German Shepherd Dog) from digging under our deck.

    The run is constructed up from a raised garden bed that did not work out due to tree-root incursions, so the ground is basically amended Florida soil (i.e. sand) with some mulch and compost in it.

    I wound up moving the girls out last weekend (before the roof of the run was completed) because they were just TAKING OVER the patio where I was keeping them in their "brooder", a 40 gallon tote; They are loving the run! Cinnamon (Gold Star) put herself into a dust bath coma and Pepper (BR) does Happy Chicken dashes up and down the length of the run.

    Here's a picture of the girls today:
    [​IMG]
    Left, "Chocolate" (Black Star) is the littlest at 120g, but how her feathering is developing tells me that she's only a couple of days younger than "Cinnamon" (right, Gold Star) who weighed 170g today, Pepper (Barred Rock) is (I think) about 4 weeks older than the other two and weighs in at 390g. She's fully feathered now and is starting to develop her ear wattles.

    We've turned the nesting area into a temporary "brooder" by adding a swinging door/face to the open side that can be secured in place for the night time:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    It has a nice wide plank at the bottom to block drafts and wire to let the are circulate.

    The girls have learned to navigate their chicken ladder like pros and over the past couple of days I've been able to leave their waterer and feed trough up in the condo. Last night as I went in to the run to herd them up to the condo for the night, all three voluntarily went up the ladder to bed.

    I'm confident that the oldest really doesn't need the protection of the door any more, but as we have incomplete security at the roof of the run, I only let them out when I'm home to supervise.

    Sooo... as we are putting up the rest of the roof wire this weekend, how long do you all think it will be before the littlest one won't need the protection of the door?

    Also, how long until they don't need the heat light any longer? Cinnamon will still prostrate herself underneath it and they all sleep in the light's corona, but not directly underneath. I know, I know, all you Northerners are sighing about a silly Floridian worrying about overnight temperatures in the 50s, but I'm a relocated Northerner and I find the 50s cool and the girls don't have all their feathers yet.

    Your input will be greatly appreciated!
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2012
  2. jendodd79

    jendodd79 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 20, 2012
    Are they about 4-5 weeks? They look similar in size to mine! Right now if they are that age they need the temp to be about 75 degrees. We have 2 lamps in our outdoor coop right now because it's hovering around 35-40 at night time where I live. I'll probably need a lamp for another few weeks until they are fully feathered!
     
  3. Alys

    Alys Out Of The Brooder

    26
    1
    24
    Oct 13, 2012
    Orlando, Florida
    Uhmmm,

    I'm figuring the two littles are around 3 weeks old and the BR around 6-7 weeks.
    The guy at the store REALLY wanted to be helpful, but really couldn't handle more than one concept at a time, so when we asked "how old are they?" he said 4-5 weeks, but that really only applied to Pepper. [​IMG]
     

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