Raising Chicks - Winter Temperatures and Moving Chicks Outdoors

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by SunnieDays, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. SunnieDays

    SunnieDays New Egg

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    Oct 21, 2013
    West Sacramento, CA
    Hi All,

    I am new to this site as well as to raising chicks. It seems like there is lots of helpful information and helpful people on here, so thought I'd ask for some advice from the experts! :)

    I just purchased three week-old chicks on October 17th (so they are now two weeks old). I have a Silver Lace Wyandotte, a Dominique, and a White Silkie Bantam (keeping my fingers crossed "she" is actually a "she").

    I currently have the brooder in my spare bedroom. I am using an XL dog crate (4' x 2-1/2') with cardboard around the sides to keep the heat in and draft out. I am using a 250 watt red heat lamp and maintain the temperature around 85 degrees.

    I live in Sacramento, CA and currently the nighttime temps are getting down to about 47 degrees. By December (our coldest month), we average around 38 degrees (although can sometimes drop to 32). I have added the average lows and highs below for reference.

    My questions are as follows:

    I have read that I should be reducing the brooder temp by about 5 degrees each week. Is this accurate?

    At approximately what age can I move them out to my garage or storage shed (sheltered, but probably a bit drafty)?

    At approximately what age can I move them outdoors to a coop without needing to use a heat source (given winter cold approaching)?

    At what age is it okay to let them run around my backyard and enjoy the sunlight (under supervision, of course)?

    Lastly, does anyone have experience acclimating dogs with chickens? I have a 90 pound German Shepherd and she does great around my mom's flock - she is aware of them and will walk around them, but won't chase them (they are free range). She really doesn't pay attention to them at all... even when we're all inside and she's outside roaming the property alone. I'll be keeping a close eye on her, but just wondering if anyone had advice as to when to "introduce" them or any other tips to keep the chicks safe and the dog disinterested.

    Thank you in advance for any advice!


    Month Low High
    Jan 38.8°F 53.8°F
    Feb 41.9°F 60.5°F
    Mar 44.2°F 64.7°F
    Apr 46.3°F 71.4°F
    May 50.9°F 80.0°F
    Jun 55.5°F 87.4°F
    Jul 58.3°F 92.4°F
    Aug 58.1°F 91.4°F
    Sept 55.8°F 87.5°F
    Oct 50.6°F 78.2°F
    Nov 42.8°F 63.7°F
    Dec 37.7°F 53.9°F
     
  2. Shelly Chip

    Shelly Chip Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 4, 2013
    I live in Michigan and have chicks outside in brooders as we speak. They range in age from 1 - 3 weeks old. They stay under the light a lot, but they do venture out into the cooler parts of the brooder. It has been around 30 degrees the last two nights and they have done fine. I don't think you have anything to worry about.

    Shelly
     
    2 people like this.
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Southern Oregon
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    A garage or shed would be fine anytime. I never brood in the house, they're in the unheated barn from day one.
    they can also be outside during the day for yard time anytime. If they'd hatched under a momma hen, she'd have had them out scratching around starting at 2-3 days old.
    I never worried about the temp of the brooder, I just go by how the chicks are acting. If they're huddled, they're cold. If they're panting and stretched out, they're hot. They need a warm spot and most of the brooder should be ambient temp, that's how it would be if they were with momma. I don't decrease the temp weekly, but once they start feathering I do turn the light off for a few hours during the day. Personally, it's just too much of a pain to try to raise the lamp with my set-up, it's either on or off.
    They should be feathered out around 6 weeks, that's when mine get off the heat. You actually have a pretty mild climate and mild winters, your birds don't need any supplemental heat at all during the winter. So, around 6 weeks to go to the coop.
     
    2 people like this.
  4. SunnieDays

    SunnieDays New Egg

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    Oct 21, 2013
    West Sacramento, CA
    Thank you, Shelly! That makes me feel better and not so worried. :)
     
  5. SunnieDays

    SunnieDays New Egg

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    Oct 21, 2013
    West Sacramento, CA
    .
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013
  6. SunnieDays

    SunnieDays New Egg

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    Oct 21, 2013
    West Sacramento, CA
    Thank you, Shelly! That makes me feel better and not so worried. :)
     
  7. SunnieDays

    SunnieDays New Egg

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    Oct 21, 2013
    West Sacramento, CA
    Thank for all the info donrae! That is good to hear, because they are starting to stink up my spare room... lol. I will plan to move them out to the garage when I get home. Good to know I don't need to be so worried about reducing the heat by 5 degrees, either. And if they're ready for the coop in 4 weeks, I better start building! :)
     
  8. LTygress

    LTygress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 12, 2012
    I do a continuous incubation, so I'm always adding chicks to the brooder. I actually have an indoor and an outdoor brooder - indoor being an old 3-foot long rabbit cage, and the outdoor brooder being a little dog playpen that I can move around the yard (but it usually sits under the carport).

    The dog playpen brooder has a heat lamp, just like the one inside. But it has no lid, top, or cover to keep them contained. Once the chicks start to fly or jump out, I let them do it. And once they STOP trying to get back into the pen to sleep (to include huddling up against the side of it because they couldn't figure out how to fly back over the side), that's when I put them in the huge pen with the adults (it's 21 feet long by 17 feet wide).

    Another good way to judge, is to move them into the main coop when they start trying to roost up on top of something. That's usually what happens when my chicks learn to fly out of the pen. They fly in and out the first few days, and then they want to roost on the top edge of it. Roosting up AWAY from the heat source like that, lets me know they are ready to be on their own, and they can hold their own heat.
     
  9. mychicks1313

    mychicks1313 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 16, 2013
    My eggs are about 1 week from hatching,when I moved mamma today an egg was stuck under her feet and I dropped it about 6 inches and it cracked, nothing was leaking out of it so I put it back under momma, I just checked and it and there was some blood but looks like it sealed its self. Will it still hatch? Can I leave it with mamma?
     
  10. janvoigt

    janvoigt New Egg

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    Oct 24, 2013
    You should never keep your chickens inside the house in a bedroom. They produce a very fine dust that has to contain elements of their feces- it permeates everything, everywhere. Not healthy for humans, pets or your belongings. Do you not have a garage? You could use a heat lamp for the short time they are babies. They are birds- just like any wildlife fowl. They will survive.
     

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