Second guessing my brooding pen / integration plans

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by WesleyBeal, Apr 7, 2017.

  1. WesleyBeal

    WesleyBeal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 18 new chicks being shipped on the 19th, that I'm going to add to my existing 1 year old flock, and I'm starting to second-guess my plans.

    My plan has been to brood the chicks under a heating pad in a 6' x 2' cage I've built, out in the coop with the existing flock from day one.

    The cage I've build has a door on the front that can be swapped out between hardware cloth, and dowel bars that will let the chicks through but not the older birds.

    Once everyone got used to seeing each other, and the chicks were mature enough to exercise some judgement, I'd change the door so the chicks had their panic room, but were otherwise able to mingle with the bigs.

    Lately it's been getting down in the low 30s at night still, but hasn't been below freezing.

    I've also been reading some on Robert Plamondon's site, and he suggests keeping the lights on 24/7 for the first 3 days.

    That has me thinking I may keep them in our garage with a light on for the first 3 days, and then move them out to the brooding pen in the coop.

    With my brooding pen at 6' x 2', I'm hoping now that they've integrated enough before they get too large for the space. If not, I have plenty of chicken wire, x-pens, and 2x4's around - I'll manage - but again, second-guessing my plans.

    I like the idea of integrating the new chicks as early as possible.

    For those that also prefer this, am I pushing things too fast with this plan?

    Should I be concerned about them being on old build up deep litter from the get-go? Too much exposure right at first to possible diseases?
     
  2. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Overrun With Chickens

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    It sounds like a good plan. I would not be concerned with the deep litter, either, because broody raised chicks are out and about in the dirt and litter from day one. Early exposure is good in my book, just make sure to keep their little brooder and water clean and dry and watch for any signs of illness. Even once they have access to the other birds and their food and water make sure to continue putting food and water in their brooder area so they can eat and drink without any of the bigs pushing them around.

    I do usually keep my non-broody-raised chicks in the house for the first day or two just to keep an eye and make sure no one is showing signs, of illness, injury, weakness, etc. Then I move them to my 6x2 outdoor brooder with the heating pads. They stay in there for a couple days and then they get access to the run that is attached that is 6x4, and that has a door that opens up into the main run. It sounds like your 6x2 is coop and run combined, though, which is perfectly fine. Play it by ear, and know that the bigs will reprimand the littles and its nothing to worry about unless someone just seems mean. Light pecks on the head are normal. Chasing them down and causing bloodshed is not. That sort of thing.
     
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  3. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    Many of us brooding chicks outdoors, as you originally planned, do so under quite cool spring conditions. Blooie has had her babies in her run at temps well into the teens. For three years running, I've brooded baby chicks from day one when the temps were in the 30s at night and not over 60F during the day under just the heating pad system.

    Don't mistake chicks needing a heat source with heating their entire space. They don't need an oven. Keep in mind a broody hen does just fine providing a warm up service for her chicks and they do not spend all their time under her skirts by any means.

    All it means when temps are down at the lower end of the thermometer is that chicks will lose body heat quicker and need to warm up under their heating pad more often. Otherwise the cold does not present any problem for them.
     
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  4. WesleyBeal

    WesleyBeal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for the reassurance!

    I've ordered Dominique pullets from Cackle this time, rather than ordering through our local feed store.

    Feels like I'm spending a decent chunk of money, and using up a finite window of days, on a handful of fragile chicks, which I'm going to toss into one basket and hope for the best.

    Felt right a few weeks ago when I was planning it all out. As the day gets closer, lack of experience has me worrying.
     
  5. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    I was a nervous wreck the first time I brooded in my run. It was all so totally different from the indoor brooding I was used to, I didn't know what to expect. Unchartered territory is anxiety provoking. But there have been so many of us now that have done the MHP in the run and coop brooding that it's become as natural as the indoor kind.

    Try to focus on how a broody hen warms her chicks. If she can do it without her chicks turning into ice cubes, so can you.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Curious about Plamondon's suggestion of 24/7 light for the first 3 days.....what is the reason/benefit?

    I was nervous too the first time I brooded out in the coop.
    Was just reading some old FB posts about it, several cousins were even more alarmed...I laugh now tho.
    They were fine, even had a few below freezing nights, just added some straw around 3 sides of the heating pad.
    After having a broody with chicks in single digit and teen F's, and some below 0F nights, the year before, I wasn't toooooo nervous.

    Now I did have them inside for the first 4-5 days, just to make sure everyone was healthy, moving, eating, drinking, pooping, etc.
    But they were chicks I had hatched here plus a few from the farm store....and it's fun to see them and hear them so close.

    Not sure you've seen this, might get some ideas:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/integrating-new-birds-at-4-weeks-old
     
  7. WesleyBeal

    WesleyBeal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    He doesn't go into much detail on his blog (on my phone or I'd provide a link), except to suggest that they should be able to find food & water anytime they want.

    I'm​ seeing three days as a good compromise for me this time. I can more easily prevent drafts, monitor them without the interference of the rest of the flock.

    Is that link to your article/post on integration? (On phone) I've read it over several times. Part of my inspiration.
     
  8. WesleyBeal

    WesleyBeal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, yep, that's your article. Gave me the idea for my brooder cage. Haven't made my doors as adjustable as yours. But the principal is the same.
     
  9. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    I'd almost forgotten until aart mentioned adding extra straw around the heating pad on really cold nights - I throw a folded wool blanket over the heating pad when it was to get down below freezing. That tends to focus more heat downward to where the chicks are.

    As for 24/7 light, one of the biggest benefits of the heating pad is the absence of light. Again, the broody hen analogy - she has no running lights that go on at night so the chicks can pig out all night on food. They don't need to eat at night. They quickly establish a day/night rhythm and they fall into a pattern of eating all they require during the daylight hours and they sleep all night. This is nature's way.
     
  10. Little Fuzzy

    Little Fuzzy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 3 three week old chicks I tried to put under a seriously broody Silkie which she immediately rejected. They were only 3 days old at the time. So I put them in the brooder and just now brought them out to raise them in the coop. They go into my broody busting wire cage at night with heat lamp . in day they roam the run while the bigs are free ranging. Today my big girls would not shut up about being separated from their nesting boxes so i let them all into the run. No one made a bother about the chicks except the Silkie. She pecked at them. Its nice to know that may be normal. I'm wondering if at 4 weeks I should try integration?
     

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