When to Move Chicks to the Chicken House
Kevin Felts 03.29.18
Chances are someone reading this article bought some chicks. They were brought home, put in something like a rabbit cage, also called a brooder, and that is where they have been for the past few weeks.
Some people have the cage in the main chicken house, and all they do is open the door. Chicks, being the curious creatures they are, will leave the cage and join the main flock.
Then there are people such as myself who have a separate brooder house for chicks. The house has a heat lamp, measures six feet wide and eight feet long, plywood walls, and a screened in floor. The new chicks are kept in the brooder house until they are ready to join the main flock.
Eventually, the chicks will be ready to go to the big chicken house, but when?
A lot of it has to do with outside temperatures. For example, my chicks stay in the brooder house until they are fully feathered and are able to maintain their own body heat.
Some people may have a heated chicken house, while mine has no power going to it. I would not put my chicks in the main chicken house until the weather has warmed up a little bit.
There is a big difference between someone who lives in the north, and temperatures being around 40 degrees on Easter Day, and in the south where it may be 80 degrees on Easter. People who have chicks should take temperatures into consideration.
Unlike chicks who were raised by a mama hen, store bought chicks have nobody to warm them up. If the store bought chicks get cold, they may bunch together, or may need a heat lamp.
One of the biggest dangers to new chicks are full grown chickens and guineas. If a chick gets in the way of a grown chicken, the chicken may peck the chick on the head.
The best way to avoid being pecked is for the chicks to be able to run, or move fast.
Usually, full grown chickens will not chase a chick. However, if the chick is in the way of the chicken, it will probably get pecked.
Chicks should also be able to get up on the roost.
When chicks start roosting at night in the brooder house, they are probably ready to go out to the main chicken house. This shows they have reached a certain level of age and their instincts are kicking in.
Before they start roosting, chicks will bunch up together. If there are a lot of chicks, and they get scared, the smaller ones may be crushed when they bunch together.
In the brooder house with a heat lamp, the chicks see, stay warm, are safe, so they may not panic and bunch together too bad.
In the main chicken house, no lights, strange sounds, they get scared, bunch together, and may crush those at the bottom of the pile.
Food and Water
Some people have a watering system that the chicken pushes on to get water, such as a nipple. The young chicks should be provided with water until they can use the nipple watering system.
I have a stainless steel water bowl the chickens drink out of. If the chicks are too small, they jump into the bowl, are unable to get out, and drown. So when my chicks are moved to the new house, they have to be tall enough to get out of the water bowl.
In 2017 I had a chicken snake get into the brooder house and eat some chicks. Unfortunately, chicks make an easy meal for stuff like rats and snakes.
So keep the above list in mind. Will the chicks be safe, will they have food and water, and will they be warm when they are moved to the big chicken house?