Raising Chicks in the Fall

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by starchicky, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. starchicky

    starchicky Songster

    Sep 14, 2013
    [​IMG] I bought my baby chicks at the beginning of September, they are now about 4 weeks old. From what I've read, they would be moved to outside housing around 6 weeks or when their heat lamp is at 70 degrees. This assumes that it is 70 degrees outside, which is probably the case when you have chicks born in the spring. Any suggestions on how to go about this now that it's fall? Average temperature right now hi 68, low 40, here in Oregon, but I'd say it's around 50 most of the day. I do take them outside for an hour or so each day, and they are quickly out-growing their enclosure in the house. We do have a simple greenhouse we built, but I'm not sure if it gets warm enough in there either, especially when it's cloudy and rainy like it's been, but I can run power out to it to maybe set up their heat lamp in there? We also have a garage but it's not heated. either way they definitely need more space soon!
  2. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Songster

    Apr 22, 2012
    Southwest Virginia
    My Coop
    I move them down to cooler temps faster, as mom would, and this has worked well for me. Basically, have the goal for them to be fully feathered and able to deal with temps down to 32˚F at 5 weeks and down to 0˚F at 8 weeks. Whether they can handle lower temps depends on how well they have feathered and how much they are used to being in cooler temperatures.

    I would consider using the greenhouse and turning on a small lamp (not necessarily a heat lamp, even a 60-100W will do--red is best for a good sleep cycle and anti-peck) at night for warmth if you get temperatures below 40˚F at 5 weeks. How many babies are there? More chicks will generate more warmth as they can huddle together. Straw and other deep bedding provide a lot of insulation.

    The garage might be a great place to get them acclimated to lower temps. Start taking them down in temperature right now. Playtime outside is good practice!

    And don't worry, I have some interesting stories of raising babies in the winter and they have survived!
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I always try to imagine how the chick would be doing if it were raised by a broody hen vs a brooder.

    At 4 weeks, your chicks would not be under momma hen during the day hardly at all. They'd be out and about, doing their little chick things, even down to low temps. At night, they'd be sleeping under momma, but it might be a tight fit!

    If you're needing more space, I'd go ahead and move them out, with a heat lamp at night. I firmly believe exposure to the cold encourages them to feather out faster and keeping an artificially warm brooder temp all the time leads to 6 week old chicks that aren't feathered out. I've noticied my broody hen raised babies feather out much faster than my brooder babies. So, move them out, they'll be fine with the daytime temps. Have the heat lamp during the night, give them a warm spot to sleep, and turn it off during the day. They should be fine.
    1 person likes this.
  4. LTygress

    LTygress Songster

    Sep 12, 2012
    There are two alternatives. First is putting a large brooder outside with a heat lamp in one spot. When they start to sleep in a big pile AWAY from the heat lamp, or they spend all day without getting under it, you should be good. I use an old rabbit hutch that is about 5 feet long that sits up against the house.

    The other alternative is to put some sort of heat source in the coop itself. Even adult chickens will appreciate some heat source in the winter. Sure, they can probably with stand it just like we can if we go outside bundled up enough. But we still like to walk back into that warm house when we're done, and animals are no different!
  5. IrishAcreFarm

    IrishAcreFarm Chirping

    Apr 18, 2013
    Agreed! Through the years I had always bought day old chicks and incubated perfectly. This past year was my first year of having a broody help me out, and I was astonished how well they did without heat from mommy even when they were only a few weeks out. They can handle lower temps as long as they are given the chance to get used to it. :)
  6. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Crowing

    Apr 11, 2011
    The last time I ordered from a hatchery, which has been a while now, I received alot more chicks than I was expecting. My inside brooder couldn't accommodate everyone, so I had to end up putting them straight outside (in my sort of second stage brooder)....in February. It was snowing and super windy, but they were perfectly content with their 100w bulb. I kept 2 thermometers in the hutch, one directly under the heat lamp and one on the complete opposite side with the feed and water. The one under the light would typically read in the high 70s to low 80s and the other was outside temp, which was anywhere from high 20s to low 40s. And not all of them could fit under the light! I was SUPER worried about them. They feathered out quicker than any of the chicks I've brooded inside.
    I don't brood in the house anymore, to say the least. Good luck :)
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013

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