1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Strange Feeding Behavior During Climate Acclimation - Insight???

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Chickenpatty84, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. Chickenpatty84

    Chickenpatty84 Out Of The Brooder

    24
    0
    32
    Oct 14, 2015
    SE Louisiana
    Hey Y'all,

    I know, weird title right? I was trying to make it succinct. So, long story short, I am in the process of "acclimating" my flock of 12 to outside temperatures. They're about 6 weeks old and I want to move them outside to their coop b/c they're getting too big for their current brooder. The temperatures are relatively cool, with the nights getting to just at freezing, and where they're at right now stays around 55F. That's only been the past few nights, however, and the freeze warnings should be passing soon, I hope (I live in Southern Louisiana).

    So, as I was saying, "climatizing" my chicks. This morning I turned their heat lamp off to start the whole process, and I'd be lying if I didn't say they just shut down. They haven't eaten nearly as much as when they did with the light on all day. Usually I have to fill their feeder three times a day - it's a small one. I'm just about to change it for a second time, and it's 10:30PM. With the lights off they don't eat, don't really drink - they just hang out in a big huddle, moving around a little bit. They aren't active at all. Only when I turned the light back on just now did they start boogeying around again. Is this normal behavior? If so, how do I get my chicks acclimated to the temperatures if I have to keep the light on so they'll actually eat? I'm sure it has something to do with their day/night cycle and such. Anybody else have this issue?

    I really appreciate y'all helping me out on this one. First flock, still new.

    Oh, also, ambient light. They have ambient light during the day from windows and such, but the sides of the brooder are covered in cardboard to stop drafts and such (we have them in an old but large wire dog kennel). The cardboard also blocks out any light source outside the heat lamp. Should we remove them to allow other light sources in?

    Once again, thanks for the help.

    Thanks.
     
  2. 88sub4x4

    88sub4x4 Chillin' With My Peeps

    111
    1
    51
    Apr 10, 2015
    Long Island, NY
    In my opinion 6 weeks is early to move them outdoors especially with the large temp change between a heated house and outdoors. I would slowly raise the heat lamp. Say an inch every 2 days until it's barely giving them warmth. Also stop blocking natural light from the windows so they can start to acclimate to the natural day night cycle.
     
  3. Chickenpatty84

    Chickenpatty84 Out Of The Brooder

    24
    0
    32
    Oct 14, 2015
    SE Louisiana
    Thanks for the quick insight. I apologize, but I didn't give enough of the back story. My wife and I have been moving the lamp up since the first week. The light barely provides any heat for them any more...it's actually as high as it will go without us taking it out of the cage. I can't give you a decent reading b/c honestly I don't know....maybe around the low 70Fs. As far as the natural light, we have the windows open and such. I was under the impression that in order to stop the drafts going through the brooder, it has to be walled up, hence the cardboard around the sides. Should we take the cardboard out then, leaving the actual brooder open all around (like I said, the brooder is one of those really big wire dog kennels).

    Thanks for the help! :)
     
  4. 88sub4x4

    88sub4x4 Chillin' With My Peeps

    111
    1
    51
    Apr 10, 2015
    Long Island, NY
    Can you post a pic of your setup? I like having a covered area, like an upside down box with an open end, so they have a cozy "mini coop" to go to that would be draft free and darker. And then the rest of the area open as like a "mini run" that the heat lamp is above. At this point your heat lamp should be 3-4 ft above the bottom of the brooder.
     
  5. Urban Flock

    Urban Flock Chillin' With My Peeps

    231
    14
    70
    Sep 17, 2014
    Southern Oregon
    I agree 6 weeks is way too early they are not fully feathered out yet. They are standing around in a huddle because they are cold. I would wait until at least 8 weeks and also take into consideration the weather.
     
  6. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    5,221
    800
    291
    Dec 25, 2012
    What color light are you using? Red light will usually not prompt chicks to get up and move about. And like you noted chickens only eat when they are up and about.

    Hang a 60W incandescent light bulb in their brooder and see what happens.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    32,674
    5,421
    556
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I use a white incandescent light in the brooder so they can see during the day.

    Keep in mind the difference between ambient temp inside and outside,
    you may have to open a window to drop the temp in the room with the brooder to acclimate them to lower temps.

    Make them a 'huddle box', put it in the brooder after turning off the heat(you might have to 'persuade' them to use it) then move it out to the coop with them.
    Cardboard box with a bottom a little bigger than what they need to cuddle next to each other without piling and tall enough for them to stand in.
    Cut an opening on one side a couple inches from bottom and big enough for 2-3 of them to go thru at once.
    Fill the bottom with some pine shavings an inch or so deep.
    This will give them a cozy place to sleep/rest, block any drafts and help hold their body heat in.

    And maybe take the cardboard off the sides of the kennel.

    Are there other birds in the coop?
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  8. Hholly

    Hholly Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,329
    171
    178
    Jul 3, 2015
    Amo, IN
  9. Chickenpatty84

    Chickenpatty84 Out Of The Brooder

    24
    0
    32
    Oct 14, 2015
    SE Louisiana
    So I'm not so computer inclined. I'll see if I can't post a pic of what type of brooder I've got going on. I do like the idea of that "mini coop" thing. As far as the height of the lamp, to get it that high I'm going to have to take it out of the cage, which is fine. I can work something up to make that happen.

    I'm using a regular light - I think it's 60W. We used a red one but it got waaaay too hot for the chicks. They seem to like the regular one a whole lot better.

    The temperatures are getting pretty good here. Like I said I'm in Southern Louisiana, so it never really gets crazy cold. We just had a weird cold snap, but it's just about passed...mid to high 50s to 60sF for the next week or so, dropping down to 40sF at night. As I said earlier, I'm liking that idea of a "huddle box" for them to stay in and opening up the rest of the kennel. Moving it outside to the coop however may be a bit of a challenge. There isn't any power out in the coop for a light and I'd rather not risk losing any of them. As far as the coop, it's empty. This is our first flock. The coop is just about ready...all we have to do is clean it up and bit go pick up some pvc an such for our mobile run and we're in business.

    Awesome, I'll definitely be looking at that one.

    Really appreciate all the help everyone. This whole "it takes a village" concept is absolutely true. Love it.
     
  10. Chickenpatty84

    Chickenpatty84 Out Of The Brooder

    24
    0
    32
    Oct 14, 2015
    SE Louisiana

    A question for both of you if you don't mind. The box you are speaking of, the huddle box/mini coop thing - dumb question but do you have a top on it? I ask b/c I still want to see what's going on in there, but I know that if I don't use a top it defeats the whole purpose of holding in the heat. Or am I going to have to just trust that they're good in there and let them be?

    Thanks.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by