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Chick Question
May 17, 2013
1:04 pm
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starcatcher
Montana
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Hi am new to the forum so please forgive me if I am asking a question that has already been answered.

I have 8 - 1 week old Rhode Island Red chicks that are currently living in a recycled playpen next to a wood stove in my living room. A few days ago flying lessons began, so I made a cover for the playpen so they could not fly out: It’s not going to last for too long though. These birds are very active and growing in leaps and bounds. My question is can I put them outside in the hen house next week or do I have to keep them toasty warm for a few more weeks? Daytime temps. In my neck of the woods are about 65-70 during the day and mid 30’s at night.

 

May 17, 2013
3:59 pm
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BuckeyeGirl
N.E. Ohio
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Welcome Starcatcher, if we haven't said that yet!!  (and even if we did, welcome anyway!)

So, there are a few questions I need to ask... do you have other chickens?  If so, you need to keep them separate, the grown chickens will mercilessly pester and peck them if they can get to each other.  The new kids need to be close to full size before you mix them together.  Even then there will be some bullying and harassment etc to establish the 'pecking order', but it usually mellows out after a few days, but that will be a couple months from now.

Normal wisdom says that chickens need to be fully feathered before they go outside, but if your coop is very weather-tight and not drafty, they can be out there from day one as long as there is a good source of warmth which they can snuggle under.  So if your coop is nice and 'tight' with just some upper windows which open just a bit for some air circulation, those nighttime temps will be too cold for them, but a 100 watt light bulb will give them enough warmth to get under, although, an infrared bulb tends to be more calming for them especially at night where the nice, calm red glow it provides seems better.   Also, because it provides MORE heat, you can keep it up higher so there's less danger of them bumping it.  Make sure it's hanging by a chain and not just the cord so it can't get knocked down or pulled out etc.  There of course is always some danger, but it's WAY better than chickens in the house!!!  Directly under the lamp should be around 85 or 90 degrees, even when it's 30 at night outside the coop.

It's been said, (and I agree within reason) that chickens develop better and feather out faster if they are outdoors as early as possible... though not in the dead of winter.  This time of year, it's probably still too chilly, but it's getting so close to perfect temps for them in the daytime, I'd go for it as long as they have a light bulb to snuggle underneath for warmth if they need it.  If you saw a hen raising chicks, they come out, run around a bit, then get back under her for warmth, then rush out for more activity.  There should always be room to get out to a cool section, then get back under the warm part.

You may even want to lower the lamp at night, and raise it up a bit during the day but if they have room to move around, they will self regulate and get under it for more warmth or move away from it when they're too warm. 

Also, raccoons and opossums love to snack on chickens, and little ones are extra tasty, so make sure the coop is tight enough to keep predators out overnight!

I don't know how much experience you've had with chickens, so I apologize if I am saying things you already know, but also, feel free to ask anything you want, there's usually someone here who can help you and your questions may help others who might be wondering about things too.

Located in N.E. Ohio

May 17, 2013
4:36 pm
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starcatcher
Montana
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Thank you Buckeye Girl.  You have helped me tremendously. I am new to raising chicks, and although much of it just seems like common sense, I still have questions that I cannot find answers to in chicken books.

My hen house is definitely weather-tight and it is partially insulated. I do have lighting in the center of the ceiling and a 250 watt brooding light, so I am going to take your advice and set them out this weekend.

Thanks again…

 

May 17, 2013
6:21 pm
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BuckeyeGirl
N.E. Ohio
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OK, since you said you're new to this, I'm going to expand a bit.  I'd check on them before I went to bed myself, and if they're out there totally huddled together in a big pile, it is probably too cold for them and the lamp may need lowered.  If they are just snuggled near each other, in a cozy way, that's normal and just fine.  If they are out to the edges of the 'lamp zone', it's probably a bit too warm, but that's ok a lot of the time especially during the warmer part of the day because like I said, they'll self regulate their temps that way.  If they're hugging the wall trying to stay as far away as possible, it's much too warm.

Also, keep the water away from the heat because it will encourage green slime and not be good for em either.

ummm.... if I think of anything else, (or any of you other chicken folks do!!) we'll post it up here!  It's always good to go over this stuff anyway. chicken chicken chicken

 

Located in N.E. Ohio

May 17, 2013
7:02 pm
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starcatcher
Montana
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happy-flowerGo it! Thanks. We will probable be putting them out tomorrow (weather permitting). I let you know how it goes. Thanks again.

 

May 18, 2013
6:56 pm
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Miss Judy
West Central MO
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starcatcher...I visited your blog...now that is a dandy chicken house!

 

May 19, 2013
9:57 am
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starcatcher
Montana
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Thank you Miss Judy happy-flower

May 19, 2013
10:17 am
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starcatcher
Montana
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I put the chicks outside yesterday and with the help of my 250 watt red light, they stayed warm all night. Happy chicks...happy me happy-flower

May 19, 2013
12:53 pm
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Miss Judy
West Central MO
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My dad always said if you kept the light on and the chicks out of a direct draft they could withstand a lot. He was  more concerned about a building that was too tight...causes respiratory problems from ammonia build up in their waste.

May 19, 2013
1:09 pm
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BuckeyeGirl
N.E. Ohio
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Miss Judy said
My dad always said if you kept the light on and the chicks out of a direct draft they could withstand a lot. He was  more concerned about a building that was too tight...causes respiratory problems from ammonia build up in their waste.

That is absolutely true Miss Judy!  Having vents or windows which are high up but able to be opened, even in the absolutely coldest weather is very necessary.  Respiratory problems are some of the worst problems with chickens.  Also, I've heard of people's coops which were TOO tight building up condensation in the winter so bad that it actually rains inside from the dripping.

Once they have their full set of feathers, NO heat is best, even in the worst weather.

I went and looked at starcatcher's coop too.  It looks really nice and they'll be able to stay toasty warm in there once they're grown!

 

Located in N.E. Ohio

May 21, 2013
9:19 am
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starcatcher
Montana
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The hen house is well vented though the ceiling and under the eaves. Plus the hen door is open during the day and I do have a south facing window that will be opened as needed. So ventilation is not a problem, although that is a great point and one that really should be stressed to anyone who is thinking about building a hen house.  happy-flower

Thanks girls!

December 11, 2013
10:20 am
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Linda Goble
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One of my hens that is 1 1/2 years old is going through her first real moult this winter... What do I do?  I don't want to run heat lamp in there this year.  Feathers are every where in the coop...  Looks like she is losing them from her bottom area, afraid she will lose too many and get cold from this.

December 27, 2013
11:15 pm
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CATRAY44
By a lake in S. Michigan
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mine usually do fine in winter, even if they molt, without a heat lamp.  

 

 

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