transitioning chicks outside in the winter?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ki4got, Oct 5, 2011.

  1. ki4got

    ki4got Hatch-a-Holic

    Apr 24, 2011
    Roanoke VA
    I've got eggs in the 'bator now, and wondering how to plan for transitioning them outside when it's cold out...

    suggestions? i don't have a barn, but will have a coop/run made for them by then but need to know what they'll need so i can build apropriately.

  2. jmtcmkb

    jmtcmkb Songster

    Sep 2, 2011
    New Hampshire
    [​IMG] Watching this thread.... I've got one week old chicks and live in New England... when these babes are ready to go out it will be 50* day time high and 20-30* evening temps.

    I am keeping them in a room with heat vents closed and a window cracked, hoping room temp will be lower than the rest of the house and drop gradually- they have an ecoglow so they are able to go get warmth as needed. They spend most of the day running and playing with the room temp at 68*
  3. ki4got

    ki4got Hatch-a-Holic

    Apr 24, 2011
    Roanoke VA
    ok pain meds are interfering with linear thought today... broken middle finger, mashed fingers - ring and little, sprained wrist, dislocated thumb. thanks to my Morgan mare Maggie... life without an opposable thumb stinks, all i can do is point. and type.

    i posted this before i thought to read around... many good thoughts on other threads, including acclimating them to conditions before putting them on their own. so i think you're on to something there jmtcmkb... (hope that's not your real name. [​IMG])

    I'm still looking for suggestions, i'm in sw virginia. around 5 weeks old will be near thanksgiving or so. daytime highs about the same as yours in new england. (where in new england? i'm from Maine. ayuh)

    their coop may be a converted doghouse for the winter, depending how my fingers heal... though i do have plans for my large coop. i just need more materials (and money) (and to finish the roof on my current coop! and build a brooder. another 'bator...)

    so many things to do...
  4. elieugene6

    elieugene6 Songster

    Jun 17, 2010
    Western ny
    Ok. Last year I brooded babies all through the winter. I gave them a week in the house under a light then put them in the basement. Lowered the temp faster than normal. I lowered about 7 degrees a week instead of 5. When I had them mostly to fully feathered I put them in the henhouse under a heat lamp. For the most part I left them under the heat lamp until they barely used it then I got a lower wattage bulb and swapped for the heat lamp. I did lose 2 to cold but that's because temps dropped one night when I wasn't expecting it. I would turn lights out on sunny days so that they got used to temps. Never really used a thermometer just watched to see how they acted.

    I am still hatching right now so I will be doing it again this year. I am thinking of putting my pigs indoor pen in a corner in there as well to add heat for free. Lol. I am in wny near buffalo.
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    In southwest Virginia, you'll not have too much trouble. Let's see, hatched on or about October 22. That will make them 8 weeks old by Christmas. They'll be all feathered out and look like juveniles. They'll have lots of energy to keep themselves warm. I brooded chicks last September and they faced 10 degree temps by Christmas and weathered -30 in January nicely. No added heat. Your area rarely sees temps anywhere near those lows.

    It will be important to wean them off of heat gradually in early December, toughening them up. Cold weather stimulates down and feather growth, while excess heat retards that growth. I'd really dial back the brooder temps after 4 weeks. I'd push them to feather out. This would be a kind thing to do in anticipation of January, typically the coldest month of the year. Simply put, with good management, they'll be just fine.
  6. wyododge

    wyododge Chirping

    Sep 30, 2011
    I followed the advise of member "ruth". While reading her posts my wife and I agreed, she had healthy strong vibrant chicks and hens because she did not pamper them.

    We got ours in early may, they were outside in 4 days. No heat lamp after the first day. we kept them outside all day in the grass and rocks off the deck and well into the night at 40* to 50* with just a blanket over the dog cage to keep some of the wind off. We did have to bring them in the house because the temporary 'home' was not very varmint proof, and we had to check their bums, but they were outside first thing in the morning. They did just fine. They were fully feathered in about two weeks, and in the coop. They ate like ravenous pigs too.

    Raise them tough, and they will be tough. Pamper them and they will be weak.
  7. StevenSRitchie

    StevenSRitchie In the Brooder

    Sep 21, 2011
    I also hatch and raise chickens during the cold weather months. Last year I allowed a broody Buff Orpington hen to set on eggs in our bacement in February. We built nesting cages made out of wood and small holed chicken wire (so the chicks feet can stand without falling through). This way their dropping fall through without soiling the chicks and the hen (much easier to clean that way). We leave the broody hen to lay on the eggs 21 days. We place hay or leaves in one side and leave another side for some food and water. Then we wait until all of the chicks have hatched and the hen feels to leave the nest. We then take out all of the hay or leaves so that all dropping will fall completely through the wire. We find that the bacement stays warm enough because the boiler room is nearby. It is the perfect place to raise chickens in the winter. The mother hen keeps the chicks warm enough without any nesting material. We leave the hen with her chicks for four full weeks. Then we take mom away from her chicks and allow them to grow up another four weeks in a larger cage. After eight weeks the cold hardy Orpingtons are able to be transferred to an outside chicken house. We do not place the younger chickens with the older one's until they about four months old. We have a seperate fenced area inside of the chicken house. It is important that you always allow the chicken bedding and manure to build up through the winter without cleaning out the house. The entire barn turns into a layered compost heap which always produces added warmth. This method only works when new bedding is added on a regular basis. If you do not have a cold hardy breed of chicken such as Orpingtons, Wyondottes, or NH / RI Reds and you live in the northern states, do not raise your new chicks during the fall and winter months. This year we are using a professional incubator to raise chicks all winter long. All that is needed is a brooder with a heat lamp.
  8. jmtcmkb

    jmtcmkb Songster

    Sep 2, 2011
    New Hampshire

    A BYC member also told me to stop using the heat lamp during the day time hours at 5 weeks to get them prepared.
  9. CupOJoe42

    CupOJoe42 CT Chicken Whisperer

    Apr 11, 2011
    My coop is still in the process of being built. Hopefully it will be done by Thanksgiving! It's going to be 12' x 18' raised with a run on either side and underneath. The underneath part will later be converted to a goose coop for the 3 Sebastopols that I hope to get next year! The guys really aren't following my design too much, and building it the way they think it should be (long story!) I can't complain too much because I've never built anything and all the wood came to us for free. I'm a little disappointed that they don't want to do the exterior nest boxes for fear that they will freeze more easily. Has anyone had this problem??

    My chickens have been in their brooder in the basement since day 1 with no heat after they were about 4-5 weeks old. I am thinking that I will put all of them in the coop, except maybe the Silkies, who I might leave in the house for the winter. It really depends on the coop and how warm, dry, and draft-free I can make it. I am planning to insulate it, if we have the money. I know they are more resilient than we give them credit for, but I still worry about the Silkies. (I would be the OCD type of person to knit them sweaters!)

    I think the best thing is to keep an eye on them, like we do when they are in the brooder. If they spread out and act normal, they are not cold. If they huddle and shiver together, they are cold. If they are panting and spread out, they are too hot. If they have icicles coming off their beaks, they are frozen.

    I will keep everyone posted on the progress under the coops thread.
  10. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Brooding in a basement is a good idea. And changing your bulb to 75 watt at 4 weeks to acclimate them then only days at 5 weeks. They should be fine come 6 weeks to handle Virgina's 25 F lows. My chickens run around and frolic at those temperatures it's the -10 and -20 they aren't so fond of. The big thing is that they are fully feathered and acclimated then they'll be fine. It would be a shock to go from a heat lamp all day to December weather.

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