Raising chicks late

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by DaveGreen, Aug 6, 2016.

  1. DaveGreen

    DaveGreen New Egg

    Jul 17, 2016
    I am going to jump back into raising chickens again. Unfortunately, due to my job, I won't have vacation time to devote to the brooder and coop/run until mid Oct. Many people have told me I should NOT be ordering day old chicks that time of year. I am in zone 7b and rarely get below the teens during the coldest month. Am I crazy? I have an unheated garage where I plan on putting the brooder and keeping them warm. My dilemma is, when they outgrow the brooder and move to the pen, the temps might be close to freezing. (probably Nov/Dec) Will they be hardy enough to handle this?
    There is just no way I can order them earlier as I won't have the time to devote.
    What do you all suggest?
  2. MargaretYakoda

    MargaretYakoda Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 28, 2013
    Irondale, Wa
    What types of chickens will you be raising? How big a flock do you want?

    My answer is, in general, yeah. They'll be fine. But then... I have three day old chicks outside in 60 degree weather right now with no external heat source.

    I think chickens are a LOT tougher than people give them credit for.
  3. SueT

    SueT Chicken Obsessed

    May 27, 2015
    SW MO
    I think you'll be fine, go for it -- you can make it work! Good luck, and let us know how it goes!
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    No. You are not crazy. Many people start chicks in the fall so that they will be all ready to go into full production when the days start getting longer. Not much difference between brooding in October and April, as far as temps go, IMO. When your chicks are fully feathered at 4 - 5 weeks they should be fine without extra heat.

    So, I suggest: Do lots of homework between now and then. Order your chicks now, so you can reserve them for shipment when you want them. Have your coop ready for when they arrive. Be sure the coop is nice and roomy with lots of natural light, and lots of ventilation. Build it for about twice as many birds as you intend to get, allowing 4 s.f. in coop, and 10 s.f. in run/bird. Ditch the garage. If you can get electric to your coop, that's the best place to brood them. Brood them with a heating pad.


    1 person likes this.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I’m roughly in your zone, the border of 6 and 7 depending on which map you look at. I’ve put chicks straight from the incubator or post office into my 3’ x 6’ brooder in my totally detached unheated coop. Sometimes that is in February with overnight (and sometimes daytime) temperatures well below freezing. On rare occasions it is in July or August when the temperatures are hot. As long as you can provide heat you can handle it.

    One problem with brooding them outside, either in a totally detached building like I do or in an attached garage, is that the temperature is not constant. It keeps going up and down, sometimes by a lot. There is no way you can keep that brooder at a constant temperature. But that is so easy to handle it’s ridiculous. Make your brooder large enough so you can heat one area warm enough in the coldest temperatures and the far end is cool enough in the warmest conditions. I find the chicks straight from the incubator are really good at managing their own temperatures as long as they have options. I’ve had extremely young chicks in there when the far end had ice or frost on it, but the end they were in was toasty. I use a heat lamp but others use other methods. There is no one right way to do it where other ways are wrong. We all do things differently. You just need to find a way to keep one end of the brooder warm.

    I’ve put five week old chicks raised in my brooder into my unheated grow-out coop when the overnight lows were in the mid 20’s Fahrenheit. No heat provided. Those chicks were used to playing all over my brooder so they were used to the cold, they were acclimated. My grow-out coop has good breeze protection and great ventilation up high.

    People are always happy to tell you why you can’t do something or what the best way or time is. I often find the best time to do something is when you can.

    Good luck!
  6. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Actually, you would be providing the ideal environment for chicks to be raised to be cold hardened very early on. Get your coop all built and ready to go by the time you expect the chicks to arrive, and then install them directly in the coop with the heating pad system.

    Under this system, you're providing heat for the chicks but simultaneously they will be exposed to gradually colder temps when not under the pad. I've raised three sets of chicks in this manner and even at one day old the chicks were running around in temps in the 30s, scooting under the heat pad when they would begin to chill.

    This exposed them to cold temps and they feathered out much faster than chicks I've brooded indoors. They were feathered out and ready to do without heat by the time they were approaching four weeks.

    Blooie, the BYCer who brought this system to the attention of our community, has had her chicks outdoors in temps in the teens under the heating pad system. Of course you can use a heat lamp if that's your choice. Either way, you need not be concerned the chicks won't be able to handle the cold. They will self regulate their heat needs and by the time they are full grown and the worst of your winter hits, they will be fully adapted to the coldest temperatures.
  7. MargaretYakoda

    MargaretYakoda Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 28, 2013
    Irondale, Wa
    ^^ What she said! ^^
  8. DaveGreen

    DaveGreen New Egg

    Jul 17, 2016
    Thanks so much for the info.
    I did pre order them for shipment Oct 17.
    I did pick them for their cold hardiness.
    Very excited and encouraged from your posts. Thanks again
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2016

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