Sudden second thoughts!

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Poupoulles, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. Poupoulles

    Poupoulles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 17, 2007
    Mayberry (really!)
    If this should be posted under baby chicks, please let me know.

    We raise meat chickens and sell at a farmers market. We are new to all this- last year was our first year selling (third year raising meaties). We are in the foothills of NC mountains. About 1200 feet, zone 6b or so...
    Chicken sells so well that I want to have some as soon as possible for market. Inspired by the warmish winter I have ordered Freedom Rangers to arrive in Mid March.
    My thought was that they would be in the brooder for two weeks or so then moved out to a hoop house on pasture with a lamp in it.
    Am I crazy? I am suddenly wondering if this is nuts. If it snows in march or otherwise decides suddenly to be winter what the heck am I going to do with these chicks?!?! Surely April first is ok. Our average last frost date is around mid April. This sint North dakota after all- am I over reacting?
    The hoop house design is as follows-
    12 wide
    20 long
    6 tall
    hoops, wire, tarp on top and sides, open front with door.
    about six inches of wood shavings on the ground.
    In normal circumstances we open the door in the AM and close up at night. Fenced yard for strolling around.
    If we suddenly get a cold snap will a heat lamp hanging down in this house and mostly closing up the open front (another tarp? plywood?) be enough?
    These are freedom rangers so they are a little scrappier than CX, but not THAT much scrappier. Am I being overly optimistic here?

    This winter has totally skewed my sense of weather.[​IMG]
  2. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    We're right there with you!

    I'd like to have two 'batches' with a bit of a breather between the two (for me and the yard). So I'm hoping to take the months of July and August off from chicks. Which means spring and fall 'crops' if you will. My garden needs my attentions in July and August so that is where my time needs to be spent, not coo-ing over chicks!

    But I'm looking outside, here in Northern Illinois. The maple sap is running 3 weeks early. The robins have returned 5 weeks early (!). The lilacs are in bud on the protected south side of the house (!)......while this all says 'Spring'!, I'm waiting for the mother's day blizzard which must be down the pike - as this is just wierd, wierd, wierd!

    I had planned on ordering Freedom Rangers for April 11th hatch. But I'm looking outside, asking myself, why wait?! Sure, it's nippy at night early April....but if they've got enough protection.....well.....should I?

    If your tractor has a way to cut out most of the drafts (a wooden 'coop' end) with a heat lamp and some extra tarps, the chicks should be wonderfully toasty! If all else fails, put straw bales on the exterior of the 'coop' end to further insulate. I once saw a hoop-house coop from northern MN - they simply put bales of straw completely around the exterior of their hoop/coop - built it up two high at the northern end....and their hens were fine.

    Or, take inspiration from gardeners - when cool weather threatens spring sprouts - I 'double cover' my sprouts - first a mini-hoop with tarp then a secondary, larger hoop with more tarps. If I'm organized and have enough warning, I'll put the two hoops opposite each other to help protect the ends better. Works every year for my tender tomato plants.
  3. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 3, 2007
    Oberlin, OH
    I have my meat birds coming April 16, and I have the same type of hoop house for them except my DH put a plywood back and front for a window to be installed and a front door with a window. It also has a wood floor, so nothing can come from the bottom. Then I fill it with shavings. The whole thing was chicken wired before the tarp went on. This way if it gets warm out, the sides can be lifted up to allow fresh air to flow through. I keep my chicks in the garage for at least 1 week, sometimes 2 if I can stand the smell. Then they go out to, what we call the broiler barn. I do put up some cardboard on the sides of the pen inside when it's cold. It will cut out all the drafts. Sometimes I have even put some bales of straw on the outside up against the tarp to keep it from letting air in. I put up two heat lamps with thermometers underneath, for 30 birds. I raise and lower as needed and they have plenty of room to get away from the heat if they want to. I always use more than one heat lamp just in case one might burn out in the middle of the night. I would be sick if I found a bunch of frozen babies in the morning. I know what you mean about this weird weather. It is hard to plan. You should be OK as long as you can keep the drafts out. If you do get a really cold spell, another tarp and additional heat lamps should be OK, just more money is involved. Good luck to you! :thumbsup
  4. Poupoulles

    Poupoulles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 17, 2007
    Mayberry (really!)
    Cardboard and strawbales wont set me back much and they are a great idea. This weather is crazy (it was 16 this AM, and 60 last week...)

    THANK YOU!!!!
  5. jessicayarno

    jessicayarno Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 6, 2011
    Pacific Northwest
    Calm down, lol.. I am raising a batch right now that are almost ready for butcher and I have had them since the beginning of Dec.. They were out in the snow and 20 degree temps at 4 wks (outside at 3 wks) and have been just fine, have only lost one due to leg problems.. They will be okay, these are heartier than you think..
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2012
  6. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    If it is too cold for the chicks, put another heat lamp in there.

    I suggest you use a brooder hood to keep the heat down low so the chicks can use it. Otherwise, heat rises and you will be heating the top of your hoop house, and not so much the chicks.

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