How can you tell when it is the right time for your baby chicks to go outside? Raising chicks comes with many challenges.
For instance, you will have to decide where to keep them and how to keep them warm and safe.
It can also be rewarding to watch your cute and fluffy baby chicks grow up, especially when they grow into mature hens and lay fresh eggs.
Chicks will always give you various signs to let you know when it is the right time to let them go outside.
This article will take you through some things that will help you know when to let your chicks outside and everything you need to know about raising them. Keep reading to learn more.
When Should Your Chicks Go Outside?
As mentioned earlier, there are a few things you need to consider before considering letting your chicks out with other grown chickens in your flock. Some of them include:
- Time of the year
The time of the year is one of the major things to consider. If you are moving your baby chicks in the summer, then they will need extra care for about two weeks.
If you are taking them outside in the winter, the chicks will need longer supplemental care.
You should also observe how hens manage their chicks. After the chicks hatch, the hen will keep them warm underneath her from time to time.
With time, the chicks will venture out here and there and explore. They will also drink and eat, and whenever they get cold, they will return to their mother to be warmed up.
It will not take your baby chicks long to spend most of their time out in a pen instead of being under their mother hen.
Some hens tend to keep a distance from their baby chicks when they are around five weeks old.
Therefore, you can start assessing your chicks to see if they are ready for the coop when they are about six weeks old.
Assess How Feathered The Chicks Are
In most cases, chicks of different breeds of chicken will be completely feathered by the age of six weeks.
This means that they will have lost their down and grown actual feathers. The growth of feathers will help chicks to manage their body temperatures.
The time taken by chicks to grow real feathers will vary depending on the chicken breed.
You will need to make sure that the chicks have grown actual feathers before sending them to live in the coop.
Chicks without feathers are more likely to develop various health issues because of the coldness in the coop.
Consider the Season
Temperature considerations for baby chicks usually start immediately after hatching.
Your breeder should be kept at a temperature between 90 degrees Fahrenheit and 96 degrees Fahrenheit.
This should be done in the first week after the chicks have hatched. After the first week, you can decrease the brooder temperature by about 5 or 6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Repeat it every week until the temperature in the brooder is the same as the temperatures in the surrounding space.
To keep the chicks safe and healthy, you can assess how they act. You can decrease the heat if the chicks start to spend most of their time away from the source of heat.
If they start to spend very little time close to the heat source, you can remove it entirely.
The best time to move your chicks to the coop is when they no longer require a source of heat.
If the chicks are about six weeks old and the temperature outside the brooder is 65 degrees, they will not necessarily need supplemental heat.
Once you move your baby chicks outside, you will need to keep a close eye on them. If the chicks are noisy most of the time, they are unhappy.
You should know that a chicken that is uncomfortable in a new place and a chilly one will make different sounds.
Once the young chickens adapt to the new environment, they will start to explore. They will scratch and eat and become quiet and contented.
If your birds are making a lot of noise and are squished up together, it could be a sign of a cold. You can offer them an outdoor heat source.
Assess the Coop Situation
You should remember to assess the coop, especially if you are moving your chicks inside during a cooler time of the year. You can check:
- How safe and secure the coop is
- Check on the heat source
- If you have older birds
- The number of chicks you have
Be sure with an electrical source to heat an area of the coop. You should also be able to add heat in a way that is safe.
If that is not possible, you should not move your baby chickens outside until it is warmer or they are older.
Ensure that the coop is safe and secure to protect your birds from predators. Some of the common predators include cats, dogs, raccoons, coyotes, and foxes.
Keep in mind that your birds will not just be at risk from domestic pets but also from other neighboring animals.
The smell and noise of your birds will easily attract predators. You should make sure that your chickens do not escape the coop.
The number of baby chickens you are moving to the coop will play a major role in determining the time you can move your chicks outside.
Since every chicken produces, it will be easier for them to stay warm if you are moving several of them. They will share the heat to keep one another toasty and comfortable.
You should also consider older chickens in your coop. If you have mature birds who have already claimed a space in the coop, then you will have to wait until the baby chickens are big enough.
It will be good if you wait until they get the same size as the current flock in the coop. Mature chickens can seriously injure small ones through the pecking order.
Integration of baby chickens with the existing flock should be a slow process.
Work to Make the Coop a Home for Your Chicks
It can be confusing to your baby chicks when you move them from the brooder to the coop.
You can make transitioning an easy task and reduce their stress by giving them enough time to acclimate.
In addition, you will have to enforce that the coop is now their new and permanent home where they should go in the evening.
Be sure to keep your young birds inside the coop for several weeks before finally letting them out in the run.
If they do not get enough time to adjust to their new home, they might not come back in the evening.
This can be deadly to your birds and very frustrating to you. It is easier and more effective to coop train your chickens when they are still young.
When coop training your chicks, be sure to remove all nest boxes from the coop as stressed-out baby chicks are likely to hide in them.
Generally, the coop should be clean all the time for your birds to be comfortable and safe from various health issues.
Take Time to Bond with Your Birds
When introducing your baby chicken to the coop, you should make sure that you bond with them by spending time with them in the run.
You can even bring something that will keep you busy as you enjoy the warm weather. Besides, you should make sure that you know the personalities of your birds.
If you have other animals on your farm, you will need to keep them separate from your baby chickens. Most chicken breeds tend to exist with other pets on the farm easily.
However, you will have to slowly introduce your young chickens to other pets or animals. If your chickens are stressed, you can decrease that with slow and careful introductions.
Children may also be a cause of stress in backyard chickens. They may want to hold the young birds even when they are not ready.
If this is allowed, it can be difficult for you to bond with the birds. Once you know their temperament, it will be easy to know the ones you can let your kids handle.
You should also remove any noisy disruptions near your coop. Be sure to contain your baby chickens in exterior spaces or a peaceful area of your backyard.
One of the best places to bond with your chickens is a quiet shade. You should always be kind to your chickens and treat them well.
This way, they will trust you and even be comfortable and relaxed when around you.
Raising chickens from a young age can be challenging but very rewarding. You can let your chicks outside at the age of 6 weeks when they are ready.
However, you will have to consider other things such as feather growth, exterior temperatures, and the number of your baby chickens before letting them outside.