Raising Chicks in the Fall


Chats with Chickens
10 Years
Aug 4, 2013
Spotsylvania, Virginia
My Coop
My Coop
Forgive me if this has been covered already. Please point me to the thread if it has.

I have a mixed batch of chicks 4 weeks and 2 weeks old. They spent their first two weeks in a brooder going from 95 to 90 degrees. Now I have them in the tractor and have been only letting them out into the run when temps have reached 80. Whenever they are in the coop, I am sure to keep the temp at eighty or better for now and I plan to go down 5 degrees next week. Right now we are obsessing over the temp. We've even installed a remote thermometer, so we can monitor the temp in the coop at night. The chicks are not huddling or panting and can be fournd scattered about the coop from the corners to the highest roost, to splayed out in the bedding at any given time.

We are having standard issue fall weather with highs in the 80s and lows in the upper high 40s to low 50s in the evenings. Will I reach a point where these chicks will no longer need the heat lamps? What would that age/outside temperature be?

Is it ok to leave them out in the run on cooler days if I move a heat lamp out to the run? They really hate being confined to the coop, now that they have had a taste of the run. Thanks in advance for your help.
I moved mine out at 5.5 weeks in the Berkshires of Massachusetts last weekend. So safe bet we're a lot cooler than you VA. I brooded in my garage and they were off the lamp by 4 weeks except if the night dipped into the 40s. Your 4 weeks chicks are probably almost ready but your 2 week chicks have a bit to go. How are they doing feathering out?
Thanks for your response. If you stare at them long enough, you can see the feathers growing! Each morning when we open the coop they all look a little different....they appear to be feathering out nicely.

Are you using a light on a thermostat?
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It is amazing to see how fast they grow!!!

I'm not using anything at this point. And we've had our first frost over night. They were fine! I'm not planning on using heat through our winter as I have all cold hearty breeds. I am still undecided about using a light. If I do it will just be a strong flash light in our small coop. Which I feel like given the size of the coop would be enough light for them for a few extra hours of light.
In 2-3 more weeks the weather will be pretty much the same here. Are you saying that if they appear to be sufficiently feathered out that I should be able to dispense with the lights and the cool day shut-ins by then?
Still a newbie at this myself but that sounds like it would match up with what my chicks handled without a problem. Mine never seemed to huddle near the heat even when they were just a day old so I kind of went by the recommendations of decreasing heat 5 degrees every week but also just paid attention to the chicks themselves. And when the brooder was cooler than what the "rules" said - if they seemed happy and active I didn't worry about it. So in the end we were off the heat I think before we "should" have been. I somehow felt better about getting them completely off the heat lamp before I even thought about leaving them outside for the daytime hours.
Your older chickens are probably okay to go out. I would lower the heat and see if they peep. Peeping is their way of telling you they are not comfortable. If they are all away from each other it sounds like they are warm so raise your heat lamp up to lower the temp and see if they are happy.

If the little ones are tolerant of the lower temps they may be okay to go out but what about night time temps? Would they get chilled or is it hot? If they are happy then go for it. My biddies did not like darkness so we put battery operated night lights so they would not fuss.

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