Too cold for 6wk old CornishXRock chicks outside?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Caver Dave, Jan 5, 2010.

  1. Caver Dave

    Caver Dave Out Of The Brooder

    14
    0
    22
    Jan 5, 2010
    Foothills of NC
    Howdy all! I just stumbled upon the forum and was hoping for some guidance...

    I bought 25 Cornish Rock chicks (hatched 11/30) with the plans to brood them for 4-6 weeks in my garage and them move them to my friends farm until sale/harvest time. Mine have been kept in brooders with dual 100W bulbs (85*F avg) through the first couple weeks to insure survival, but to encourage feathering/acclimatization, I went to a single 100W (burned out bulbs in the other sockets) which seems to have encouraged feathering a bit (avg. of 55*-60*F since). They were fed starter feed for 5 weeks, but it's gone and transitioned to cracked corn & vegetable scraps. They are up to a couple pounds, mostly feathered, and pretty healthy looking. However, they're quickly outgrowing the boxes... I *could* add another box, but have run out of room!

    The issue now is the weather in NC... dropping into the high/mid-teens(*F) at night & barely above freezing (if at all) during the day, for what looks like the next month. We'd planned to house them in a modified "dog pen" (10'x10'x8'H) with 5 haylined poly drums layed on side w/ openings (for bedding/shelter from wind), a few 2x4s across the corners for "roosting", and a couple tarps over the top (for rain/hawk protection) & the lower sides (wind protection).

    My friends batch (90+) are now 12 weeks old and he's VERY worried about them, so he moved them from an unheated barn into his slightly heated woodshop (a move he will regret when it's time to use the now poop covered tools! [​IMG] ). Housing them has reached critical mass and his primary coop/roost/pen is already full of layers...

    He thinks mine would definitely be at high risk to "turn out" in this weather.
    OR, Are they old enough to put outside given some protection from the elements (space out of the wind/precip & a heat lamp) at these temps?

    We both realize the mistake of ordering this late in the year, but are wondering if our fears are unfounded? HELP!

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I think the 12 week olds would do okay, but not the 6 week olds...jmo. Heck, mine shivered and seemed miserable at less than 40 degrees when they were about 14 weeks (just a few weeks ago), so I couldn't imagine little ones out in temps. quite a bit lower than that.
     
  3. Orpstralope

    Orpstralope XL College Raised Eggs

    151
    1
    111
    Oct 11, 2009
    Boone
    I'm in Boone, NC and I have 8 20 week olds. They don't seem to mind the cold, but they are full feathered. I'd recommend if you were to move the youngins outside - wait and keep them in the garage until atleast 9 weeks, that way they WILL be fully feathered and have some protection. Also, use a 250 Infared Bulb in their coop to provide them with some warmth and a 150 Watt over their water to prevent the inside from freezing. Also put some plastic sheeting along the bottom 4 feet of the coop to prevent wind burn. I'm in Fayetteville right now and I do see how the weather is something to worry about. Your birds will be fine at 9 or 10 weeks and they won't be too big for where you are keeping them.

    Your friend will be fine as well. With 90 birds, some of them might get slow and lethargic in the cold (due to their breed), but I have never heard of a chicken dying from just being cold. Their body heat should help them out too.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2010
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

    7,544
    172
    316
    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    I'm a little concerned that the diet you plan on feeding them will not help. I'd recommend feeding them a proper chicken food with the cracked corn and vegie scraps only as supplements. If they don't have the proper nutrition, they won't be able to feather out as quickly and will not have enough energy to keep themselves warm.
     
  5. walkswithdog

    walkswithdog Chillin' With My Peeps

    4,638
    22
    243
    Jul 17, 2008
    DC Region
    If they have a draft free heated place to warm up and dry off, they can do well. I have a large raised box with a heat lamp, the can get under/in to dry off and warm up and then usually go perch elsewhere unless it's really cold and they need the heat.

    I'd have chicks that age still on gamebird starter, or grower 22%. You'll get really really poor gain and feather growth on what you're offering now. I grow out most of mine on 22% since they feather in a lot quicker on it. Without sufficient protein you're shooting yourself in the foot reducing their food like that. Take twice as long to feather and grow out.
     
  6. Caver Dave

    Caver Dave Out Of The Brooder

    14
    0
    22
    Jan 5, 2010
    Foothills of NC
    Thanks for the feed info HEC & wwd!

    I stopped by the store on the way home and grabbed a bag of 22% + some grit. Still not sure if they need the grit with the feed, but it can't hurt (can it?) to offer a little with cracked corn & veggie scraps (supplemental).

    Not sure what we'll do re: keeping them inside/moving outside, but will keep you in the loop...
     
  7. walkswithdog

    walkswithdog Chillin' With My Peeps

    4,638
    22
    243
    Jul 17, 2008
    DC Region
    Grit helps if you're supply things like greens and grains yes. And 22% should keep them going strong. Feather development is directly linked to available protein in the diet.
     
  8. Caver Dave

    Caver Dave Out Of The Brooder

    14
    0
    22
    Jan 5, 2010
    Foothills of NC
    Thanks again!

    While the 2.5 days on the cracked corn didn't appear to affect them activity wise, poo production was WAY down from straight starter feed. Not sure why, but thought w/o some grit they might be having issues "processing" the cracked corn.

    This AM, I filled up their chick feeders with 22%, sprinkled a little cracked corn on top with 2 tablespoons of grit, so will see how their doing this evening...
     
  9. ijon1

    ijon1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    342
    1
    131
    Jan 26, 2009
    gaines, michigan
    I got some chicks in September. Being in Michigan I will never do that again. I think the chickens having to fight the cold, don't gain weight well.
     
  10. walkswithdog

    walkswithdog Chillin' With My Peeps

    4,638
    22
    243
    Jul 17, 2008
    DC Region
    This is my third year raising them over winter. It takes a LOT more food, of better quality to keep gain anything like a spring/summer set. Mine free range quite far in summer, and the penned birds still get a lot of supplementation from rotation on grass. So yeah, winter can be a pain but I like having POL and butcher weight birds before most of the locals, to take to market. They're generally the best prices I get all year if I've got POL and butcher weight cockerals in Feb/March. For our own use it's cheaper to rear them in summer. Showing up at a market with the only layers - priceless.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by