As a new chicken mama, I'm amazed at the posts I'm reading about how long everyone seems to be keeping baby chicks in brooders, especially now that it's 1000 degrees outside and then locked up like Fort Knox for the rest of their lives - and how nervous people are and how protective they are because they love their chicks so much. Guess it's good I didn't know what I didn't know. I'd read numeous books on chickens (before I found this site) and most said they could be moved outside as soon as it was warm and I figured in the "ole days" when real mama hens laid and hatched their eggs, they had their babies out running around the farm the next day - in some areas it was still "winter time". So, I put my week old baby chicks out in a pen on back deck during day and brought them in at night because it was April and temps still dropped to very cold. By two weeks, I was leaving them out all night but covering the pen and putting lamp in with them. It was hysterical to watch them all night long chase the bugs and moths that got in pen drawn toward light. The baby chicks were only 2 weeks old and had their own game of chase and catch going on all night. Of course, next day they would sleep a lot - spread out in the sun - since they had been up all night. By 4 weeks they were free ranging and only placed in a larger pen at night because I had gotten another batch of three-day old chicks. They started staying outside from day one since it was now May and warm every day - they too had a light on the cool nights and played the same catch games. My point is: I guess if they are supposed to be in a brooder for 8 weeks (1) either I got really lucky or (2) it's not necessary. Guess what I didn't know didn't hurt me or them. They feathered really fast and grew quickly. Today they are still free-ranging and loving every minute of it. You can see them on my chicken page - there's pics of them outside at 2 weeks old and they lived to tell the tale. I'm not saying anyone else is doing anything wrong, so please don't slam me - there's been enough of that going on in recent posts. I'm just saying that I think about the way it is done in nature and try to raise my chicks as close to that as possible. Hope to be encouraging to those who are posting and asking "when can they go outside" - answer "right now" - their mama hen, if they had been left with her, would have them out the day they were born. I truly believe it is healthier for them than being cooped up in a heated box all day walking around on their own droppings. I know, I know, let the slam dunk begin.