Acclimating chicks to colder weather...?

Veggan

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Welp my six baby chicks are now just about 4 weeks old & 3 weeks old! They've started to create a lovely little mess around their brooder and make the living room & dining room smell** (and I guess some people want to use the dining room table that the brooder was sitting on, or whatever, pshhh) ... so my DH and I moved them to our entryway area. I'm thinking we need to finish that coop by next weekend and get them out there!!

Several BYC members have been encouraging me to start exposing them to outdoors to get them ready for their coop and encourage their little bodies to grow those feathers out. They went on a fantastic outing all afternoon the other day when it was in the low 70s and had a blast, no problems at all. But the past couple of days, it's gotten colder and rainy. :-(

It's dipped down to about 50 degrees F tonight. On the floor of the entryway now, they've still got their EcoGlow heater on and seem to be mighty comfortable, but I thought (in lieu of being able to take them on afternoon outings because of the rain and wind) that I would leave the entryway windows open a little to let some colder air seep in.

Does anyone see any issues with this, given their current age and their access to their heater? Should I take the fact that they're quietly snoozing under (or, as with a couple of them, sticking out from under) the heater panel as a sign that they're comfortable?

Thanks!

** P.S. I replace half the brooder shavings about every other day, so I don't think the smell is indicative of unsanitary brooder conditions. It's just that weird, earthy, sweet'n'sour smell from their cecal poops. Oy!
 
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Bogtown Chick

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Do you have a car garage? Thats where my 1 week and 5 day olds are. As long as you have a heater or lamp for them, I'd say move their dusty fluff buns out.

Edited to add the new place should be predator proof. Maybe a needless point to make. And 50 might be cool for 3-4 week olds. 5-6 weeks. No problem with full body of feathers.
 

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Veggan

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Do you have a car garage? Thats where my 1 week and 5 day olds are. As long as you have a heater or lamp for them, I'd say move their dusty fluff buns out.

Edited to add the new place should be predator proof. Maybe a needless point to make. And 50 might be cool for 3-4 week olds. 5-6 weeks. No problem with full body of feathers.

I have a garage, but it's not predator proof. :-( The garage doors are not traditional garage doors, but rather old barn-type doors. I know there are rodents that wander through as well as an outdoor cat that sometimes sneaks in. I figure if a cat can get in, so can a raccoon or skunk. My entryway (which has doors that close it off to the rest of the house) is the closest thing I have to your garage.:)

You think 50 degrees is too cold even if the heater is there?
 

Bogtown Chick

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Is the coop close to being done? I think 50 is alright if they have a heat source to get under if they are a bit chilled. They are getting close to not needing it.
 

Bogtown Chick

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Apple cider vinegar in the water helps get those proteins in the feed absorb efficiently in the chick which means more efficient/quicker feathering out. I do just a half capful in the one quart baby waterer.
 

Veggan

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Apple cider vinegar in the water helps get those proteins in the feed absorb efficiently in the chick which means more efficient/quicker feathering out. I do just a half capful in the one quart baby waterer.

Oh AWESOME advice! Thanks!!
 

mustangrooster

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Regarding the 4 week old chicks, my chicks are usually outside by then (or at 5 weeks old, depends). If I have a predator proof area for them then they are usually out. Not really for my sake, but more for the chicks, I don't think they like being in a brooder at that age, I think they would prefer being outside and scratching around----Heck, my 2-week old chicks want to be out with the 8-week old chicks now!


When they are outside, I never use a heat lamp. If there is more than 4, then by that age they can huddle and keep each other warm if they really need too. How feathered out are they? Mine go out when they are feathered out, or just have a tad of baby fluff left.


If there is less than 4 chicks, and/or the chicks are a smaller breed (Like a Bantam, Silkie, Frizzle, etc) then that’s a different story -----I keep them in longer.


I don’t think I would leave 3-week old chicks out at night. But I certainly would give them time outside during the day, and bring them in at night. My 2-week old chicks are getting regular visits outside now, if you have other flock members, this is a good point for them to see the chicks, but no touching yet! Some chickens can be very mean and hurt chicks badly. I recently had a 7-week old chick kill and eat a 1-day old chick, so be careful.


But however, this is for my climate. It never snows, so that makes me on the safe side in regards to the chicks not freezing too death. It has been getting cold at night, but all the chicks that are outside stay cozy because there is plenty of them. You mentioned it’s been rainy, will your coop have a roof?


Really it all comes down to how long you want them in the brooder for if you have a predator proof area if there are enough chicks to huddle to keep warm (or a heat lamp) and if they are feathered out.


And yes, if they are snoozing under the lamp, they are comfortable.



Good luck :)
 

CTKen

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You have some good advice already. Do bear in mind that the chicks will instinctively snooze under the brooder plate whether its turned on or not. I brood indoors (average temp I'd say 75F) and by day 10 they are already weaned off the brooder plate (but I leave it in the brooder, for them to sleep under). You can try turning off the brooder plate and observing the chicks - if they chirp and huddle together, then they are cold, so turn the brooder plate back on. If they do their usual chick stuff, then they are fine.
 

Bogtown Chick

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Great advice given here as well from other fine folks. For sure if there are nice days 70 degree temps I put my 3-4 week olds out in a flower garden to explore and scratch. Listen for distress peeping if cold. That age and that temp, I doubt you'll hear it.

I have a little nesting hut for them to run under for safety. Or I'm supervising. We call it field trips. If any kind of bird flies over I also trill a warning call so they learn eyes to the sky readiness-wariness. It's all learning for sure.
 
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aart

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It's dipped down to about 50 degrees F tonight. On the floor of the entryway now, they've still got their EcoGlow heater on and seem to be mighty comfortable, but I thought (in lieu of being able to take them on afternoon outings because of the rain and wind) that I would leave the entryway windows open a little to let some colder air seep in.

Does anyone see any issues with this, given their current age and their access to their heater? Should I take the fact that they're quietly snoozing under (or, as with a couple of them, sticking out from under) the heater panel as a sign that they're comfortable?
Excellent way to 'harden them off' to the cooler temps!

My entryway (which has doors that close it off to the rest of the house) is the closest thing I have to your garage.
You think 50 degrees is too cold even if the heater is there?
Entryway sounds perfect to me...50F is not too cold for 3-4 week olds with access to heater.
Could start turning the heater temp down too......I turn the temp down, and/or raise the heater up a bit, until they start to complain then turn the temp back up a notch till they are quiet again.
 
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