Raising chicks outdoors - Best Decision Ever

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by chickenchichi, Jun 14, 2016.

  1. chickenchichi

    chickenchichi Out Of The Brooder

    May 15, 2016
    McDonough, GA
    I'll preface this by saying this is only my third time being a chick parent, so I am by no means an expert. This is just my own personal experience with raising chicks outdoors. I also live in a very warm, humid climate, which makes outdoor brooding much easier. If you want to try raising your chicks outside, be sure to do your research beforehand and consider things like soil testing and climate! I'm sharing this because there are some people who, like me, didn't know that keeping young chicks off a lamp is even possible.

    In early April, I bought 4 chicks for my birthday, and raised them for about a month and a half in a rubbermade brooder in my apartment. The smell was difficult to handle, but eventually I came back to our family home for the summer. By this time my birds, 2 black/copper Marans, a blue Maran, and a Red Sex Link, were a month and a half old and quickly feathering out. They wanted out of their brooder! I began to let them roam around the yard in the mornings and it was amazing how happy they instantly became. I tried to go out and sit and watch them as much as possible, also beginning to build their coop. Unfortunately, all 3 of the Marans turned out to be cockerels, so we ended up selling all 4 chicks at a local farmer's market.

    Now we have a new flock of 10 and a finished coop. After seeing how happy my previous flock was when they had open range, I did my own research and decided I wanted to try brooding them outside. I affixed a heat lamp to the top of an old Pyrenees-sized dog crate to use as a safe and secure brooder and put it out in the back part of their coop. At first I would just leave them in there all day, turning the light off in case the outside temperature got too hot. At this point they were all between 1 week-4 weeks old, and while I was comfortable with the bigger chicks getting to roam I was still scared for the 3 babies.

    I opened the gate on the crate and all of them, including the 1-weekers, came flying out. Every day they get to roam around in their amply sized coop from 6a-8p where they can scratch around and pick through grass all they want. At night when it gets dark I'll turn the lamp on in their crate/brooder, and they'll all run in at once. It's hilarious!

    To me, my chicks are without a doubt happier and more friendly than any of my past flocks have been. I go and sit outside with them on a storage crate in their coop, and though it's taken a month or so, some of them have even gotten brave enough to perch on my leg and be held by my family. It also allows my dogs to get used to them, which with the right training will hopefully prevent any problems with them in the future.

    Most importantly, my chicks are healthier. They're more active and curious, plus they receive Vitamins D and K from the Sun and minerals from the dirt.

    Please share any related stories or opinions if you have them!
  2. BabyandCotton

    BabyandCotton Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 14, 2016
    All my chicks were raised outside after 5 weeks of age, and never had any problems. My Muscovy hen actually fosterd them so maybe that's why I haven't lost any. She was very protective! Good luck with your chicks:)
  3. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 19, 2015
    Eastern Shore, MD
    I just finished my outdoor brooder yesterday and moved the 24 chicks and keets I hatched this past weekend out there. I am using a heating pad and was a little anxious. I went out at 2am to check on them and they were snuggled under their pad happily sleeping. Today they are running around exploring and happy. The brooder is about 2.5x6 get which is much more room than I could offer them indoors, plus they have a grated window for them to check out the other chickens and the turkeys. I do have two in the house that need extra care but except for NICU cases I won't brood indoors again! Without BYC I wouldn't have known outdoor brooding or using a heating pad instead of a lamp were possible.

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