If you’re planning on raising backyard chickens I am in the middle of a series on how to do just that. Be sure and catch up with the first post in the series: Getting Started. Today we are going to talk about what to do with your baby chicks when moving chickens outside from their brooding box. It’s a big step for your chickens and it’s very important to introduce them to their new home with as little stress as possible!
Moving Chickens Outside
When your chickens are fully feathered (about 7 weeks) moving chickens outside is the next step. Let’s discuss some chicken coop options.
Choosing the Right Chicken Coop
There are a few options when choosing the right chicken coop. You have to take into account several different factors. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a Chicken Coop:
- How many chickens will you have?
- You want to make sure you have appropriate space for each chicken
- What climate do you live in?
- Colder climates require more hardy coops to keep your chickens safe from harsh weather
- Are you concerned about predators?
- Make sure you chickens have a safe place to range
- How many nesting boxes do you need?
- You need to make sure you have the appropriate number of nesting boxes for the size of your flock so they have somewhere to lay eggs.
DIY Shed Style Chicken Coop:
These coops are great if you live in extremely cold climates. This allows the chickens to have a fully insulated home that keeps them safe during this harsh winter days! I haven’t run across any of these for sale, though I’m sure you could convert a shed from your local hardware store. Doing that would be quite pricey, so you might want to consider a DIY project! Here are a few great examples with links to the free plans below each image.
Pros: Warmth, large size, great for free range chickens
Cons: No secure area for chickens (if your concerned about predators), can be time consuming to build, doesn’t work well in small yards
Large DIY Chicken Coop:
If you don’t necessarily need the large shed but still want to keep your chickens warm, I would suggest building your own coop to include what is called a chicken run. A chicken run is a safe place for your chickens to roam. This is definitely the way you want to go if you have a problem with predators in your area.
Pros: Safe range area, large, able to keep insulated and warm
Cons: Can be time consuming to build, doesn’t work well in small yards
Buy a Chicken Coop:
And of course we have the final option of purchasing a chicken coop. While most still require assembly, it greatly reduces the amount of time preparing for your chickens coop. We ended up buying a coop because remember how I said we weren’t prepared? Well… that’s why. I had every intention of building our own, but time was a serious factor. Here are a few options that you can purchase:
Pros: Quick Set up, affordable, great for smaller yards
Cons: Not as durable, limited on how many chickens will fit, can be more difficult to clean out
What to Feed Your Growing Chickens
Once chickens are about 16 weeks old (or start laying eggs) you will want to move them to layer pellets. They also have a crumble feed type, but I’m not personally a fan because it leaves you with more wasted feed. Again if you are wanting organic chickens, make sure you stick with an organic brand of chicken feed.
You will also need larger containers for their food and water. These are my favorite
Moving Chickens Outside to Their New Coop
I know it sounds easy, but you really can’t just throw them outside and expect them to know what to do. Chickens are highly sensitive to stressful situations so you will want to make the transition as easy as possible.
Once your chickens are acclimated to their new home they will automatically start going up into their coop at sun down. It’s just that wonderful animal instinct. And then every night you will go close their door, and then let them out in the morning. In order to get them to this point you have to teach them that this is their new home. Here’s how to do that.
- When you are ready to take them outside put them in the enclosed portion of their coop and leave the door shut keeping them from going outside. This allows them time to feel safe and realize that this is where they will be sleeping. Make sure keep their food and water fully available to them as it is likely to get messy from the pine shavings.
- Let them stay inside the coop (with no access to outside) for about 3 days. Obviously you will need to check on them and clean as necessary, but they need the consistency.
- After 3 days, open the door in the morning and move their food outside of the coop. I moved mine outside, but still really close to the coop so they knew that this was their new home.
- See if they go back in at sundown. If they don’t, you will need to pick them up and put them in their coop and close the door and then let them out in the morning.
- If after a few days they are still staying outside after sundown, put them back in the coop and let them stay in there for 3 more nights. Repeat until they get it. Mine took about two weeks to fully grasp the concept.
Now that you have finished moving chickens outside all that’s left to do is feed and water them, clean out their coop, and make sure all goes well while you patiently wait for your very first egg!!
Don’t forget to catch up on the very first installment of our Backyard Chicken series ; )