Topic of the Week - Moving Chicks Outside

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by sumi, Apr 29, 2018.

  1. sumi

    sumi Égalité

    Jun 28, 2011
    Tipperary, Ireland
    Pic by @azygous

    After a few weeks our little fluffy butts are feathered out enough to allow them to regulate their body temperatures and they can be weaned off the heat and moved outside to the coop, or an outdoor brooder. Some of our members choose to brood chicks outdoors from the start even. There are many ways to do this transition successfully, so this week I would like to hear you all's thoughts and practices when it comes to moving chicks outside and having them adapt to living out there. Specifically:

    - Do you brood your chicks indoors or outside and if the latter, how do you go about it?
    - If you brood indoors, at what age do you do the transition from brooder to outside?
    - Any tips for making the transition easier for the little ones?

    For a complete list of our Topic of the Week threads, see here:
    Teila and ShouldabeenaVET like this.
  2. SueT

    SueT Crossing the Road

    May 27, 2015
    SW MO
    I have brooded indoors, weaned chicks off heat by 4-5 weeks and I move them out to coop at 5 weeks, no heat source. All the various breeds/sizes have done fine with lows in the 30's which is inevitable here if you start them early.
    In the USA, the roller coaster weather this spring has had a lot of people anxious about moving their chicks to coop. There have been warm days, then snowstorms, over and over. My chicks this year experienced snow at 5 1/2 weeks, and they were unfazed. Hopefully we are past that now. Happy spring everyone!
  3. techbsmith

    techbsmith Chicken Hoarder

    Mar 3, 2018
    Glasgow, KY
    I'm moving 5 cockerel's outside today - they will be 6 weeks old this coming Tuesday. I moved the pullets outside last weekend, and they have done fine with lows in the 30s. Of course, the pullets had fully feathered, the cockerels are getting close to full feathers, but not quite. After today, lows should only be in the high 40s to 50s - so I think they'll be fine.

    I agree with the roller coaster weather - it's been crazy!!! Hoping it stays nice and warm now tho, because I have 5 chicks that are 3 weeks old and 6 eggs in the incubator .. I'm VERY ready to have all the chicks outside!
    jkkirkland87, Srod79 and sumi like this.
  4. KHBaker

    KHBaker Chirping

    Mar 21, 2018
    I brooded my chicks inside (this was our first time as chicken owners!) and they were outside at 4 weeks. When they started moving away from the heat during the day, we turned the heat lamp off, then turned it off at night, and when they looked fully feathered and were okay with no heat (about a week), we took them outside. Once they were two weeks old, my husband and I began taking them outside (in the 50's and sunny) for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minute, etc, until we left them out for a few hours. They adjusted really well to being outside and love their coop! The weather stressed me out for weeks since it was in the 50's, then 30's, and then 70's, but they seem to take it all in stride.
  5. Chickygirl63

    Chickygirl63 Songster

    Feb 11, 2018
    I put my chicks out side in the larger brooder at 3 weeks with a heat lamp ..When they were 4weeks I traded the heat lamp out for a hundred watt lamp..... They only stayed near the light when it was dark or a little chilly . I gave them a larger nesting box to huddle in now they prefer to roost on it...
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Three issues I address. First is change in temperature where heat lamp is turned off for a couple days with inside brooder. Transfer is also done on warmer part of day on a warm day when practical to reduce shock. Second issue is a change in feed type used at same time. Usually, same feed used until a couple days after move. Another issue is the containment environment. I have lots of broods that are kept separate. Each brood is placed in a portable brooder (rabbit cage) for a couple of days before moved in the rabbit cage. The rabbit cage serves as the brooder in new location. Purpose behind this is to make so not all stressors hit at once.

    Warmer weather things not so demanding with respect to temperature.

    Other concerns not addressed here involve where outdoor brooders are placed and beginning of free-range time where young birds are expected to return to same cage / brooder each night.
    Srod79 and casportpony like this.
  7. my chicks will be 3 weeks old tomorrow (4/30), I have them in a brooder inside my garage since day 1, the only heat source is the heat lamp. I plan on moving them to the coop at 5 weeks old, they will have their own area in the coop away from the larger hens.
    (see but don't touch)
    ensundby, jkkirkland87 and Srod79 like this.
  8. Harmony Fowl

    Harmony Fowl Songster

    Jul 17, 2017
    I brood inside for the first 7-10 days to make sure everyone is hatched and eating and drinking and thriving appropriately. At 7-10 days, they move outside to my 2’ by 7’ outdoor brooder. It is inside the run, under cover, protected from wind and rain, but not in the coop. I have a Cozy Coop heater underneath an overturned plastic tub with a door cut out for heat. I watch the chicks at first to make sure they begin using the protected heat since typically they aren’t fans of exploring dark enclosed spaces. For past incarnations, I have sometimes had to put a battery powered lantern or flashlight near the makeshift huddle box for them to begin using it. By the end of the day, they get it. I haven’t done this through the winter and probably won’t try, but I have had chicks outside for five weeks now without issues. They spend a couple of weeks in the brooder before having the doors open to integrate and then being evicted for the next set of chicks, so at four weeks or so they are independent and off heat with the flock. Such young chicks don’t actually leave the run for awhile. It’s about six weeks before they have the nerve to begin exploring in ones and twos.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2018
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Outdoor brooder setup in route to barn. Brooder itself provides no warmth so location important. This cage has 14 chicks, seven about 3 weeks old and seven about 2 weeks old. Will take care to prevent piling on cold nights.
    RowanTheRed and casportpony like this.
  10. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    I give them a day or two in the house to make sure they are eating, drinking, and know where to go to get warm, and to watch them for hatching or shipping stress, then out they go. I use a big x-pen I used to use during my dog showing days and set it up out in the run. We cut two openings in it for Portal Doors (ala @azygous, who came up with that brilliant idea when she also started brooding directly out with the older chickens too) to make integration easy. Mama Heating Pad goes in and that's it. Been doing this for a long time now, and raised 8 batches of chicks out there very successfully. I have partial integration with the flock starting at 3 weeks and at 4 weeks I have total integration. At the end of that 4th week the brooder comes out completely.

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