Topic of the Week - Moving chicks out of the brooder and into the coop

sumi

Égalité
Staff member
Premium member
8 Years
Jun 28, 2011
39,107
23,964
1,252
Tipperary, Ireland
mdewitt.jpg

Pic by @mdewitt71

The chicks are outgrowing the brooder and the time has come to move them out to the coop full-time. A moment many first time chick owners either dread, or can't wait for! This week I would like to hear you all's thoughts and practices on moving chicks out of the brooder and into the coop. Specifically:

- At what age(s) did you make the transition?
- What (if anything) did you do to make the young ones more comfortable/happy in the coop on their first night out?
- How do you tell if they are o.k. out there on their first night?
 

ChattyChickens4Life

OCD (Obsessive Chicken Disorder)
Oct 1, 2017
897
882
202
Hi! Congratulations on reaching that time! My chickens were recently moved out into the coop about a month ago. I moved them out at about 6 weeks old. We haven't had a problem! I may have gone to put them in bed a little late. I would suggest going out at sundown when there is still light out. Take each one and place them on the roosts of coop. Close the coop door. I did this for a few nights, and now they put themselves to bed! They will of course be nervous. It's a big, new place. But by the time you put them to bed, they are probably already so tired they won't be too upset. And when you let them out the next morning, they will be happy as a clam! Good luck!
 

dlp40

Chirping
Dec 1, 2015
134
62
96
Florence sc
I personally, can't wait until they are out of the broader. Which incidently, I have all but stopped using thanks to broody hens. I don't not like all the mess that comes with a brooder and healthy chicks/chickens. The constant cleaning and smell is more then my family and I prefer. That said there's nothing like a chick raised in the house by human mommas, so there is a trade off.
If I must brood indoors I use a heat plate and a kiddy pool in the garage. I turn the lights on in the morning and off at night. But it's still messy. My brooder of choice is a 3x5 coop attached to my bantam cochin run, that I use for storage most of the year. Heat plate, block the run door, and a perfectly safe brooder. Unfortunately, it still needs to be cleaned just as often as the kiddy pool or any other brooder. With my broody hens I just move the chicken tractor every day and it is really easy to have chicks all the time....much to my wife's dismay, lol.

When I have chicks in the brooder in the summer I move them out at 4-6 weeks to a tractor. 1st night I make sure they go to the coop section by adding a light. This method usually gets them sleeping in the correct section within 2-4 days. Other then that I move the tractor every day or 2 and keep the water and food fresh and clean.
Winter/fall/spring chicks are bit harder to transition imo. With the cooler/cold nights, heat at night and other cool periods, for me, needs to be available for 6 weeks solid sometimes longer with certain breeds. I've put chicks out @5 weeks with no problem but they seem to do better if a full 6 weeks of heat is available.

Checking the chicks, for me, is as simple as going out afyer dark and listening to the sounds they make. Soft chirps and "sleeping" noises are a good sign. Loud peeping and chirps are not. During the day, if they are running, scratching, and being chickens.....no worries. If they are peeping/chirping loudly, huddled together, and not doing normal chick stuff.....its time to see what the problem is. Usually it is a heat, wind, or (best case) new area adjustment thing.
With a broody though, just make sure predators can't get them and momma takes care of them much better then I can.
David
 

azygous

Crossing the Road
10 Years
Dec 11, 2009
17,849
20,872
912
Colorado Rockies
While I do acknowledge that most folks brood their chicks indoors in a container, I am a strong advocate of brooding outdoors with the adult flock so the new chicks are accepted as flock members early on. I wrote an article for BYC about the advantages. (Look below)

But, at what age do folks brooding indoors move the chicks out? If you do it gradually, beginning at age two weeks, the stress of the transition can be spread over two or three weeks. I recommend beginning the transition with brief day trips out to a safe pen in the run. The chicks will get a big kick out of the freedom, and they begin their integration into the flock by safely observing the adults.

Believe it or not, baby chicks are paying attention. They watch the individual adults and learn their behavior patterns, learning whom to avoid and which ones they can feel a reasonable safety around. Even on cool days, chicks can spend stretches away from a heat source. You just need to watch for signs of chilling and bring them back inside.

Increasing the length of these day trips not only prepares them for the ultimate move to the coop, but acclimatizes them to cool temps. By age four or five weeks, they will be ready to move into the coop. But before this, they should have been mingling with the adult flock and I recommend the use of a panic room with small chick portals to accomplish it. Usually one week after they start their day trips, they can begin to mingle.

The move into the coop will be a piece of cake following this recipe. The only thing you'll need to sweat is teaching them to go back inside at night. A night light helps show them the way, and with a little encouragement, they will be going in on their own in just a few days.
P1010014.JPG
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,610
26,710
907
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
I brooded my first chicks in the house... in the basement... in a tractor I built. NEVER AGAIN would I brood chicks in the house. Second batch... in the garage which is under the bedroom end of the house. Still too close for comfort. I have asthma, and even in the garage, the dust was too much.

Along came the introduction of MHP brooding on BYC. My friend @Blooie gave me the confidence to try this method, and I never looked back. My chicks are now brooded outside in a grow out 2 level cattle panel coop. I keep them inside (in the garage) for a couple of days to ensure that they are all eating well, using MHP correctly. Then, I take them and their MHP out to the loft of the CP coop. Never again will I use a heat lamp. This spring, I brooded 48 chicks with 2 Sunbeam XPress XL.

They grow very fast. The only precautions I take are checking on them to be sure the MHP is adjusted to the right height and that they are all using it correctly. Occasionally one or more will get confused and hunker down for the night in a corner. But, with a lot of chicks, even on a cold night, that might not be much of an issue after they are a couple of weeks old. By the time they are 2 - 3 weeks old, I open up the loft (4 x 8) and give them access to the lower level (8 x 12). They explore the entire enclosure, and initially need reminders to go up to the loft to sleep at night. By 4 - 5 weeks of age, they are completely weaned from MHP.

It's normal for chicks to go through a lot of complaining as they bed down for the night. IMO, it's most likely b/c they don't have a broody hen. Life can be pretty scary when you're a little, especially when it gets dark, and Mama is not there to scare away the monsters.
 

KBMonroe

In the Brooder
Aug 29, 2017
16
18
34
I moved my three to the coop at 2 and a half weeks old. They mostly stayed in the coop unless I was there to watch them in the run. I kept their food and water in the coop until they were at 5 weeks old. They learned to walk up and down the ladder from the coop to the run the very first day. Within a week they were using the ladder to get high enough to jump on the roosting bar in the run. At 3 weeks old I let them out at daybreak and put them in the coop at dark. I used a timer and turned the heat lamp on at dark and within a week they learned to go into the coop within a week. I then moved the food outside in the run and put a quart waterer in the run and one in the coop. I am sure where you live and time of year really make a big difference in timing of moving outside. I live in the south and we were having lows in the 70's and High's in the 90's.
 

Dmontgomery

Songster
5 Years
Apr 1, 2014
839
573
212
Longville, La
As soon as Tractor Supply announces "Chick Days", my wife gets the fever. Although we love watching a momma hen hatch out and brood her own babies, that's too long a process and too few chicks for her. She wants lots of chicks, right now. So in 2016 we had to purchase 35 in one week. This past year we bought 31 in one day.
We have a brooder set up on our back porch. Springtime temperatures here are mild enough that by week 3 we usually don't need a heat lamp except at night. We don't have electricity run to our coop, but prefer to have easy 24 hour access to the baby chicks to respond to any problems in the brooder immediately. Plus they end up much friendly than coop raised chicks.
All our chickens free range all day and come up on our porch frequently looking for treats or petting. So the babies see and here them all day long. Our main rooster will perch on the railing near the brooder and crow at them in the mornings and the hens hop up to check them out all day long.
We keep them in the brooder for at least 4 weeks, until they get some decent size and feathering. Then I move them to a segregation pen in the main coop. It is a 6'x8' chain link dog kennel that I assemble and disassemble when needed. Fortunately I built our coop big enough that it has plenty of room. They are locked in there for a week or so, giving everybody time to get used to each other but not have physical contact. I transfer everything that was in the brooder to this pen. Bedding, feeders, perchs, everything. Whatever they have had for the first month goes out in the pen with them so they aren't surrounded by all new stuff.
After the first week, I raise the pen walls up high enough that the chicks can crawl out under the fence, but the big chickens can't get in. This way they can explore the coop and run, but quickly seek shelter back in the pen if one of the adults goes after them.
I use either blocks of wood or bricks to get the fencing up about 4" off the ground at first. Then as much as needed each week until they are 8 weeks old. At 2 months I take the pen back apart and put it back in storage until needed again. It only takes a few minutes and isn't very heavy when broken down in to components. Within a week, they all end up following the bigger birds up on the roosts to sleep at night.
 

dlgower

Songster
Mar 4, 2015
36
132
104
Colorado Springs, CO
I started the move at 5 weeks. I put my new chicks in a separate small coop in the large run for 2 weeks. The first week I put a fence around the little coop so they could see each other. The next time I made the fenced area bigger then I took the fence down at 7 weeks. No problems. This last week they started going to bed in the large coop by themselves. They get in trouble a little bit with 2 of the older birds but no real problem. It is much easier with a broody mom.
 

Folly's place

Crossing the Road
8 Years
Sep 13, 2011
17,131
22,004
906
southern Michigan
My broody hens are out in a big dog crate with their chicks for the first week, and then the crate door is left open, and they are all in the coop with the flock.
My brooder raised chicks start in a 100 gal. stock tank, with a hardware cloth cover, and a heat lamp, in my attached garage. After 2.5 to 3 weeks, they move out to a separate section of the coop, with their heat lamp. After the heat lamp is done, they start to go outside with the big birds, and gradually mingle with the flock.
If I'm raising a batch of meat birds (Freedom Rangers), then the two week olds go into the 'chicken tractor', with the heat lamp, and get moved around every few days as needed. Mary
 

PoultreeKing

Songster
Mar 26, 2017
84
52
102
Lebanon beirut

The chicks are outgrowing the brooder and the time has come to move them out to the coop full-time. A moment many first time chick owners either dread, or can't wait for! This week I would like to hear you all's thoughts and practices on moving chicks out of the brooder and into the coop. Specifically:

- At what age(s) did you make the transition?
- What (if anything) did you do to make the young ones more comfortable/happy in the coop on their first night out?
- How do you tell if they are o.k. out there on their first night?
I find that about 6-7 weeks of age is the best to take them out of the brooder, but i don't really worry if they are gonna be okay, because there isn't any reason they wouldn't be okay. I've done this several times and i have no traditions, i just take them out of the brooder and into the coop, but i do prefer to do it on a warm day.
I keep them in the coop for about 2 weeks and then i start letting out to free range.
 
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