Transitioning to coop during crazy weather

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by GardenState38, Oct 3, 2011.

  1. GardenState38

    GardenState38 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 13, 2011
    I'm new to raising chickens, but have done my homework and found that common sense goes a long way, too. However, I cannot find any clear answers in any of my books to several questions I have (which, to me, seem pretty elementary).
    I'm transitioning my flock from brooder to coop (at a time of year when weather is unstable and unpredictable) and I need confirmation that I'm going about it correctly. I also have questions about when the flock should/should not be "cooped up" and prevented from going into the run.

    As background, my "chicks" are now 10 weeks old and have finally be moved into their coop, now that it finally arrived 4 days ago.
    The coop is an amish-made Quaker-style coop/run tractor, with interior lighting and designed to fit 6-8 LF birds. I have 4 LF pullets and one bantam.

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    Prior to the move, the chicks were in a brooder in my garage, where the lowest the temperature ever got was about 70. (needless to say, but 10 weeks, things had gotten quite cramped, but the girls still managed to stay in each other's good graces)
    Apart from a few nice days when I'd have them outside for a few hours in a temporary Ware hutch/run, the girls were mainly kept in the garage, due to inclement weather and my work schedule (I didn't feel that the inexpensive temporary pen was anywhere near secure enough for them to remain unsupervised, and we'ved had one of the wettest Septembers I can remember--doesn't seem like the ground has ever dried out.)

    Naturally, and typical for NJ, the temperature highs dropped suddenly from the mid-80's and humid to the mid-60's and damp (overnight lows in the 40's) --on the very days I was moving the girls into their new home. [​IMG]
    Also, there have been "periodic" showers and mostly cloudy skies.
    Day 1 and 2 in the coop was partly sunny and in the 70's. I allowed them to roam the coop and run until dusk, and then I had to put them into the coop just before dark (they didn't enter instinctively, as I had been led to believe they should.)
    Day 3 (yesterday) was overcast, drizzly and cool (mid-60's), so I kept them inside the coop, with the light on, figuring a) it was best for them not to get wet and cold and b) they may become more comfortable with the coop, and thereby be more willing to enter it at dusk, next time they are out in the run. My real concern came last night, when temperatures dropped into the 40's. I was toying with the idea of putting a heat lamp or the EcoGlow in there, to keep them warm, but I didn't, reason being that I don't have that much more time to get them acclimated to colder temperatures and I was afraid that the heat would cause the already high humidity level to build even further.
    They seemed fine this morning, but I was surprised that the interior coop temperature was only about 54 degrees (but this was after I had opened the door). I didn't have the ventilation hatch or window open, so I thought their body heat would be more contained in the coop (which is pretty solidly built).
    The forecast for today is more rain and clouds and temps in the low 60's. I left for work with them locked in the coop, with the light on and the window cracked a bit. So far, this morning has been partly sunny, but it won't last.
    Of course, they have water and food available in the coop as well.
    Am I doing the right thing? Is my logic correct? Should I be allowing them to have access to the run, even though it is cold and wet? Should they ALWAYS have access to the run, no matter what? They can go under the coop (where they seem to spend a good part of their day, anyhow) but I've heard stories of hens that don't know enough to come in out of the rain...
    Should I be using a heat lamp at night? Is the temperature change too sudden? Keep in mind that they are 10 weeks old (but I do have one bantam)
    After tomorrow, the weather should be milder and sunnier. But I would like to feel that my basic logic is correct, as we go into autumn and are destined for more unpredictable, colder weather.

    If anyone has any ideas about anything I should be doing differently, or any words of encouragement, I'd appreciate it.
    I'm very anxious to do the right thing and prevent any undue stress or harm to my flock.
    In only 10 weeks, I can't believe how attached to them I've become! [​IMG]
     
  2. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

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    Aug 20, 2010
    Colmesneil,TX
    You seem to have the maximum number of birds I'd have for a coop that size. So you're good there. Often, it helps to lock them in the coop for a few days at first. That way they're much more likely to go in on their own at night. At 10 weeks, they are fine with no extra heat at those temps. It does help keep them safer to close the door of the coop every night but I'd let them come and go as they wish during the daytime.
     

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