Winter brooder for meat chicks

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by T-Amy, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. T-Amy

    T-Amy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 16, 2011
    Woodhull, NY
    I live in the northeast where our daily temps average 35*-50* & evenings are 20*-35*. I have 20 meat chicks that are almost 3 wks old, presently divided between 2 livestock waterers w/a lamp in an unfinished basement room til they're ready for the cooler nights outside. They're starting to get their feathers and I only have a 100 watt bulb in the brooders.

    How & when should I move them outside? A few options I have: Keep them in a covered large area (the coop 'addition' just built with a roof & sided on 3 1/2 sides with a portion of the 4th side covered in heavy gauge wire, so wind can get to them- none of our laying hens have been exposed to it; OR I can evacuate a portion of my inside coop (that is now occupied by 20 layers) & put the meaties in there (is it OK to put them in an area where other birds have been or should they have a 'sterile' area?)

    Please be as detailed as possible or provide pics of how & when I should do the transition & how much protection is needed from the elements. FYI, they will be ~5# at 8 wks old & ready to be processed. My main concern is 'shocking' them & knowing when they'll have enough feathers to protect them.

    Sidebar - I know many perceive that any livestock should be outdoors but this was our 1st time & if we do this again (meat chicks), we'll start them during warmer mos & keep them outside from the get-go. But, I wanted to keep a closer eye on them & the room we have is secluded from the rest of the house, I have an air cleaner for dust nearby, etc. If anyone puts chicks outside in these temps from the get go- please let me know. I don't have a broody hen & given how much they hated even 75* temps at first, I can't imagine how they could tolerate the colder temps we have here.

    This is where they are today: 11.14.11. Keep in mind they'll likely 'meat' their maker at the end of December...
  2. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    Your weather sounds like it is doing about what mine is doing right now, except it's nice and dry here.

    I suggest that you keep those chicks dry and out of the wind. Can you close in the open side of that addition? Even with just a securely fastened tarp?

    I'd put a "hover" out with the chicks with a 100 watt bulb in it. That's a cover that they can get under. The cover holds the heat down close to the ground. I'd be too worried about moving them directly from a brooder, even a cool-ish brooder out into weather that cold with only moderate shelter.

    Cornish Cross don't get good feather cover, and that's a big temperature difference. I suggest that you make some effort to acclimate them instead of just putting them out there.

    With the weather here, I have to vary the heat source even when the birds (ducks, in my case) are in brooders in the garage. Light is higher, or even off during the day, and then at night it is lowered and a hood is put over the brooder. You might find it works to raise the hood during the day and lower it at night. At 50 degrees, you can turn it off. If it is 35 degrees outside during the day, I'd leave it on.
  3. T-Amy

    T-Amy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 16, 2011
    Woodhull, NY
    Thanks, OB.
    Yes, I forgot to mention that if we put them in the new area, we'd planned to put a roll-down 'curtain' made of a landscape fabric which can be rolled up or down to let sun in or protect from the wind. The inside shed may be a better option b/c we've insulated 2 corner walls & it's ~10' from the small window (which we could shut at night but I wanted to let the layers have ventilation) & we can build a temporary 'wall/roof' above the heat light so it's a 'portable' brooder type set up where they can go in & out as they choose. Do you mean like a lean-to so the heat doesn't escape above it & is trapped in a small area where the birds can go to if they want?

    My main concern was exposing them to the area where the other hens were; given neither my layers or meaties were vaccinated from diseases... It seems like any time I introduce birds from another area, I have one or two die within a few weeks or month.

    I'm not sure if they're Cornish X hens, they were purchased from Meyer's in Ohio & labeled as 'surplus broilers' and since I'm a newbie at this, I don't know the different types of meat birds.

    I'm going to take what you suggest & raise their light during the day so the only heat they get is what they generate themselves as the room they're in is probably 55*-60*. I'll lower the light at night & slowly try to expose them to slightly cooler temps before putting them outside. thanks for your suggestions. Any & all are appreciated.

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