Want to move my portable brooder coop into the run

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by BGinVA, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. BGinVA

    BGinVA Chirping

    My youngest chicks will be 5 weeks old in a couple of days. I've been using a heat lamp a little each day with them maintaining the 5 degree temp drop per week. For the most part they don't need any heat during the day, but I still put it on at night as its been dropping down to the 50's - 60's and the current temp I'm trying to maintain is 75 degrees (will drop to 70 on Sunday).

    My integration with my 13 week old chicks is not going so well, in fact the older chicks seem to be getting more aggressive towards them as the weeks go by. All we can get so far are some supervised playdates, and the pullets are the worse. I'm starting to think part of the problem is that the big chicks bully the little chicks and then they go away (I take them back to the brooder coop in the garage after a couple of hours of watching and refereeing). So now the big chicks are learning if they pick on them they will go away. So that's why I want to move my brooder coop into the covered run asap, so that they never truely go away and they get used to them being near if not accessible all day long every day (some days I don't have time to supervise play dates).

    So now the question is the heat lamp thing. Our run is covered (or will be tomorrow), but since the walls of the run are hardware cloth, rain could still blow through and I don't recall the heat lamp being indoor/outdoor. So when can I put them outside with NO heat source? Looks like the lows will be mid to upper 50's over the next week with highs in the low to mid 70's. At 5 weeks old can they acclimate to those lows in a few days time? I realized today that if I just keep doing the 5 degrees less per week, that the outside temp is dropping as much or more per week and I'll never get ahead of the temp, so I'm thinking about just cold turkeying them off the heat lamp at some point, but when?

    Any advice on the integration or heating is most appreciated. Thanks in advance!
  2. RonC

    RonC Songster

    Feb 28, 2012
    Once they are fully feathered then can tolerate the cooler weather. Usually that occurs at the age of your chicks, five weeks in most breeds. You could probably ween them from it now by raising it again to drop the temp for a few nights then go cold turkey er ah chicken. Mine were outside at 4 weeks back in the spring with temps dropping into the low fifties on a couple of nights.
  3. BGinVA

    BGinVA Chirping

    Thanks Ron C, I've read the "fully feathered" thing before but I guess I don't totally understand it. Yeah, they have some feathers, but if you feel them you also feel a lot of prickly things that tell you that new feathers are still emerging, so to me they aren't fully feathered. My poor Black Australorp roo, went through a terrible case of the uglies and is just now becoming "fully feathered" by visual observation at 13 weeks old, but maybe he had some "baby feathers" earlier that would have counted as "fully feathered". So what exactly does "fully feathered" actually mean?
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Rule of thumb is 6 weeks.
    And I can tell you that if your chicks had been raised by a broody hen, that's about the time she's kick them out. They'd usually not be sleeping under her anyway, they're too big to all fit. I'd say start weaning your littles off the heat lamp, maybe into the high 60s at night for a while then get them off it. Excess heat can cause them to feather out slower.

    I hate that five degree a week rule. IMO it's way off base. From the start they should have access to areas of ambient temp, day and night. They should be allowed to self regulate. And they don't need a heat lamp past 6 weeks.
  5. BGinVA

    BGinVA Chirping

    Great donrae, your advice seems to closely mirror what I was hoping to do, thanks!

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