Moving Your Chicks Outside
If you're raising chicks, you're probably wondering when you can move them from the brooder box to their permanent home outside. Your local climate and availability of outdoor heating should influence your decision, but the most basic rule of thumb is that your chicks need to be fully feathered before you put them outside full time without supplemental heat.
Chickens of different breeds get their full feathers at different stages, so research your breed to determine when you should expect to be able to move them outdoors permanently.
Moving Out: A Gradual Approach
Some people use a graduated approach to moving their chicks outside. When your indoor chicks no longer need a heat lamp, move the brooder to a colder part of your house. During warm days, chickens that have most of their feathers (sometime between 2 and 4 weeks old) can spend the afternoon outside and return to the brooder at night. Try the indoor/outdoor routine for several days in a row to get your chicks used to being outdoors.
If the chicks show signs of distress by huddling together or cheeping loudly and persistently, they may be too cold and should be brought back inside or provided a heat lamp. Depending on the breed, chickens will have all of their feathers sometime after 4 to 5 weeks old and will be ready to be outside full time without a heat source.
Moving Out: A Faster Method
Another approach is to harden off your chicks more quickly by putting them out early without any transition period, usually after two weeks in the brooder. If your chicks show signs of distress, bring them back inside or provide them with an outdoor heat source.
Whether your approach is gradual or quick, have your chickens' outdoor space ready for them. Make sure their feeder and water source are set up and functioning correctly and that their coop is elevated 6 to 12 inches off the ground. If you are going to have a run for them, make sure it is attached and secured.
Once Outside: Finding Home
When you are ready to move your chickens outside full time, teach them where "home" is by keeping them in their coop for three to four days. Even if your birds are always in an enclosed area, training them to go into the coop at night will be helpful predation prevention. (See "Protecting Chickens from Predators.")
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SKU 10030669Perfect for baby chicks or small birds, the Little Giant Plastic Screw-On Feeder/Waterer Jar is molded from durable, transparent polyethylene, making it easy to monitor water levels. This screw-on replacement jar fits the Little Giant Mason Jar Screw-On Waterer Base.
SKU 11402652Keep chicks healthy with the Sav-A-Chick Electrolyte and Vitamin Supplement. This supplement is appropriate for all domestic poultry and waterfowl. Electrolytes help prevent dehydration, promoting proper blood pH, normal nerve and muscle function, and overall health.
SKU 11402821Formulated specially for poultry, Sav-A-Chick Probiotic Supplement provides beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract to help the bird maintain a healthy digestive system. Convenient, premeasured packet mixes into one gallon of drinking water.
SKU 11402505Help chicks get off to a great start with Manna Pro Non-Medicated Chick Starter. These complete crumbles for chicks, ducklings and goslings contain 18% protein for weight gain and muscle development. Fortified with vitamins and minerals for healthy growth and sound development, Manna Pro Non-Medicated Chick Starter is great for mixed flocks.
SKU 10030665The Little Giant Screw-On Poultry Waterer Base combines with the Little Giant 1-Gallon Screw-On Waterer Jar (Item No. 666, sold separately) to make a gravity-feed waterer. Made of heavy-duty polystyrene.
SKU 10002013The Duraflex Mason Jar Poultry Waterer Base makes hydration easy. Constructed of heavy-duty polyethylene, combine with the Little Giant 1-Quart Screw-On Feeder/Waterer Jar (sold separately) to make a gravity-feed waterer for baby chicks and small birds.