Our nights are above 40 degrees now. My 17 chicks are five and six weeks old and outgrowing their brooder pen in the barn. I'd like to move them outside to a tractor and could put one or two heat lamps on the tractor.
So I guess my questions are minimum temperatures and ages of chicks to live outdoors?
We have chicks that age and there's no way they're ready to be outside even during the day when it's warm. I know that because we got far more chicks than we expected our chicks will also soon outgrow their brooder. I'm going to have to build a bigger pen for the babies where we can keep them with their heat lamps.
Moms don't look at things like normal people.
5 & 6 week old chicks already have most of their feathers and are ok to let outside during the day. A heat lamp in a tractor should be alright for them at that age. It would be best if you had a "coop" or enclosure in the tractor to keep the heat contained in a certain area and they would go into/under the heat at night.
I'm a believer in not coddling my chicks and I actually had my 6 day old chicks outside all afternoon without any heat and they are all sleeping under a 60W bulb right now. They are spaced out instead of piled up on top of each other because they're getting "climatized" already to the cooler temperatures.
We've always done what our friends have done. They have hundreds of chickens that they show around the midwest. They wait until they are fully feathered and a bit bigger. We're going to build a small pen for our young ones as they outgrow their brooder. We've got 30 babies right now. My hubby really loves me!
Moms don't look at things like normal people.
I put mine out in outdoor cages to "harden off" during the day, and bring them in at night for three or four days. This is when they are about a month old. As long as their bodies are covered with feathers they do fine. You don't want to leave them out in really cold conditions, but if it's no lower than 40ºF at night, after those days of hardening off they should be pretty good. Make sure, however, they aren't in a breezy location once they are out permanently, as this would probably be too much exposure for them. It's kind of a balance that you have to do.
Consider that in nature, birds above a month old really can't snuggle underneath Mom anymore, so they have to be ready to make it on their own pretty fast. Just don't dump them out without giving them time to get used to it (just like those tomato plants!).
I'm in MI - we've had some nights down into the 20's this past week - chilly all the time and near constant rain the past week or more. I've had my now 5 week old chicks outside for at least a week now; possibly a little longer. I haven't lost even one. I always put my chicks outside between the ages of 4-6 weeks old, usually closer to 5 weeks; Once they have body feathers, out they go - no transitioning necessary. I've never lost any this way.
Heh, I have ducks, so I can't help you. My duck babies are about 3-4 weeks old and they have free run of a house and fenced yard. They have a heat lamp in the house. When it is 40, they lay down in the straw and seem entirely uninterested in going inside. I do remove their wading water when it gets cold. I only kept three of them this time too! Silly ducklings - they are doing fine.
Yes, show some commen sense when you put the chicks out at first - pick sunny calm days and they'll be fine. How about a broodie hen with her chicks? They are out running around and scratching and pecking for most of the time and just go under her to rest a bit and then they're back out.
I really think if you're still using the heat lamp on chicks over 2 weeks old when it's warm out then you're wasting money. We forget that chickens have a good "heater" and they can survive temperatures as low as -30 -40 without any extra heat.
This year I put my meat birds out at 3 weeks and my layer chicks out at 4 weeks. They are in pasture pens with tarps over the top and two sides, making a warmer corner. We have had several frosts, and a low of 28 F since they have been out, and we have had no losses. When It gets cold, I throw an extra tarp over the pens to block the open sides.
At four weeks, my Leghorns and Barred Rocks were fully feathered. Both the meat chicks and layers had been off of the heat lamps for a week before I put them out.
Move your chicks out, they'll be fine. Take pics and post them, I love chicken pics.
I am picking up my 7 new, 6 week old chicks on Monday. I've always raised them from day olds in the past and put them outside around 5 to 6 weeks old, depending on the weather.
Mine will go into a coop though, it's 4'wide, 6' long and 4' high. I have electric, with a heat lamp to help on cool damp days, or cold nights. We have a small animal cage that we hook to one of the outside door, we take the ladder off and attach this so they can get out to the fresh air on nice days, and can still close the door in the evenings or on cooler days if need be.
They also have a run, which is 1x2 welded wire, and normally some of them can slip through it until they are 8 to 10 weeks old, so I don't open the door to the run until that time, which is why we have the little "porch" for them.
In the past, if we had a 70 degree day, and my chicks were around 4 weeks old and mostly feathered, I'd take them outside for a bit, in a sunny area. It helps them to acclimated. By 4 weeks old, if you are following the standard, starting out at 95 degrees, dropping the temp 5 degrees a week, they should be used to about 75 degrees, by 6 weeks old they should be used to 65 degrees. You have to watch out for those cold nights, or cool damp days.
I'm in Michigan, and we typically don't go below 40 at night, though it could happen. It was 27 here a week ago, and I was really glad I hadn't picked the chicks up yet.