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3 wk chicks moved to new outdoor coop today

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3 wk chicks moved to new outdoor coop today

Post Number:#1  Unread postby Rainey » Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:38 pm


Zach finished the new coop with compost yard under a little after 9 this morning and even though it was only in the 40's F we moved them out. They were getting very active in their 3'x4' 18" deep box and a couple had flown out when I opened the top to put in food or water. They hadn't been using their warmer--a gallon jug filled with hot water with scraps of fleece hanging down around it. I put a newly hot one into the new coop with them but they ignored it. They also ignored or more like avoided the opening giving access to the ground underneath the coop and just kept scratching around in the bedding, kicking it into their food. I tried thinking like a chicken and realized that their instinct seems to be to go up--not down. So we put a couple down the hatch and others followed, soon scratching happily in the wormy pile of compost Joanna had dumped there for them. Put another warm jug in a corner but they didn't seem to want it. Now I just hope they will find their way back up into the coop before dark or one of us is going to have to crawl into that 6'x6'x3' high compost area and put them up and into the coop.
Am attaching photos to prove we really built it and they are really outside :D And just want to say that they were all scattered around pecking happily until they saw me coming and ran to the other side--not to happy with being picked up and moved earlier ;)
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building the coop
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IMG_3811.jpg
new coop ready for occupants
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IMG_3815.jpg
chicks in their compost yard
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Re: 3 wk chicks moved to new outdoor coop today

Post Number:#2  Unread postby MaggieJ » Thu Apr 12, 2018 4:48 pm


Nice job, Zach! :goodjob:

Rainey, they may need a hot water jug last thing at night, depending on your nighttime temperatures. I wish I could remember more about temperatures from our last set of chicks, but the five remaining hens are senior citizens now.

If they don't go in on their own, one trick that sometimes works is to put a light in the coop. As it gets dark, the lighted area attracts them. Even a flashlight or camping lantern may be enough. Once they're up there, shut the hatch and remove the light.
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Re: 3 wk chicks moved to new outdoor coop today

Post Number:#3  Unread postby Rainey » Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:16 pm


I'm planning to take them out a warm jug when it gets a bit darker. They didn't go up and in on their own--Joanna took the crawl and grab duty for me. I thought of a light and tried hanging the one we used the first time we had chicks when I was doing them 'by the book'. I hoped if it the light and warmth were coming down through the hatch they'd go up. Might have worked if I'd waited until it got darker but the rain is getting heavier and the volunteer to crawl in wanted to get it over and done with. So may try again tomorrow and see if waiting until later would work. I really don't want to leave them down overnight--it isn't as warm and dry and isn't predator proof so hope they learn fast. Don't know why they flew out of their indoor box but wouldn't even use the steps or the branch (they loved flying up onto the one in their indoor space) to get up into this coop.
I really think this set-up will be easy to manage once they learn to go in on their own for the night. As soon as the grass starts to grow we'll have a lightweight 5'x8' run that can be moved around to 8 different doors on the compost yard.

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Re: 3 wk chicks moved to new outdoor coop today

Post Number:#4  Unread postby MaggieJ » Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:30 pm


They'll learn . . . and probably faster than you think! :D
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Re: 3 wk chicks moved to new outdoor coop today

Post Number:#5  Unread postby Marinea » Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:47 pm


When moving chicks outdoors into the coop/run, we always partition off a part of the coop and keep them inside for a week or so before giving them access to the run. It seems to give them enough time to learn that the coop is their safe night place. I think over the years, we have wrangled two slow learners with this plan.
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Re: 3 wk chicks moved to new outdoor coop today

Post Number:#6  Unread postby Rainey » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:28 am


Thanks, Marinea, I thought about keeping them inside for a day or two, but then didn't even wait for them to find their own way out--'helped' a couple out and the others followed. They were so obviously ready to be on the ground and frustrated with the bedding (wood shavings) which they scratched in vigorously but there was nothing there for them to find. They seemed much happier once they were on the ground. I still don't know what they find as cold as it is and nothing really growing yet. But watching them, I see that they scratch and peck, scratch and peck and they spread out (except when I drop in something for them). They just act more content and I figure the earlier they learn that scratching is productive the better. Guess I'm not very patient. I do hope they take themselves up into the coop tonight--will try the light again and wait for it to get darker.

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Re: 3 wk chicks moved to new outdoor coop today

Post Number:#7  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:14 am


i like it...
meat-mutt rabbits, a few laying hens.

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Re: 3 wk chicks moved to new outdoor coop today

Post Number:#8  Unread postby Shea » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:48 pm


:yeahthat: That is a nice design! Any chance we could see a picture of how you layed out the inside?

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Re: 3 wk chicks moved to new outdoor coop today

Post Number:#9  Unread postby Rainey » Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:20 pm


I'm not good at taking pics of insides of buildings and this was harder because it is so small, but I gave it a try. Think I said before that the coop is 4'x6' and has a shed roof--4' high in front where the door is in the middle of the wall, 3' high in back. There are windows in the 2 end walls, a roost along the back wall (they won't use that for a bit), and a 12"x18" hole in the floor in the back corner giving access to the compost yard underneath. In the photo you can see their 'warm jug'--a gallon milk jug filled with hot water with fleece scraps hung over it. I set it near the hole they go down hoping if they got cold they would see it and come up. Food and water are hung on either side of the door. We'll add a nest box when they near laying age--that will have a hole cut out from the coop and the box will be on the outside so we can get eggs without opening the door. The hole in the floor has a piece of sheet metal that slides in from the outside to close it off at night.
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waterer--really like the nipple system
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chicks eating worms on 2nd day out
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Re: 3 wk chicks moved to new outdoor coop today

Post Number:#10  Unread postby Shea » Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:42 pm


:clap2: :clap2: Very nice! And it looks like you will be able to clean out the bedding from the outside with just a rake! That ought to help save the back some. :D

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Re: 3 wk chicks moved to new outdoor coop today

Post Number:#11  Unread postby Rainey » Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:22 pm


We designed and built it to save our backs--and to give the chicks access to compost and a movable run.
This evening I'm very pleased--all 8 chicks found their way upstairs into the coop before it really got dark so we didn't even have to put a light out there. They had been going up and down the stairs all day but not really going inside to get to the feeder or the warm jug. They spent all day scratching and eating whatever it is they find in compost and turf. Then they all went up inside, ate some from their feeder and gathered around the newly filled warm jug. I thought it might take them longer to learn--Joanna is delighted not to have to crawl in under the coop again.
Good night, chicks.

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Re: 3 wk chicks moved to new outdoor coop today

Post Number:#12  Unread postby MaggieJ » Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:12 pm


Smart chickies! Glad they turned out to be quick learners.

You have a really well-designed and practical set up for them. Looking forward to hearing how it's working once they mature and start laying. :)
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Re: 3 wk chicks moved to new outdoor coop today

Post Number:#13  Unread postby Marinea » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:53 pm


Great looking coop!
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Re: 3 wk chicks moved to new outdoor coop today

Post Number:#14  Unread postby Rainey » Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:36 pm


Here the temp was falling through the 30's during the day and even I would have hesitated to put the chicks out if I'd known it would be that cold so soon after moving them. But they headed down into the yard by 8 and stayed down (at least whenever I checked) until about 6:30. I changed their warming jug a couple times so they could get warm if they needed to and put out the more insulated brooder box they spent the nights in when they were in the indoor pen. But they weren't staying in it the last couple days indoors--seemed not to need the warmth. I think they'll recognize the box and go in it tonight if they are cold. Still surprised at how hardy they are.

__________ Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:36 pm __________

Just a quick update to admit that I've found a temperature that is too cold for 3-4 week old chicks. On Sunday there was a coating of ice on everything and the high was about 34 F. The chicks just stayed in the coop. Monday was a bit warmer--just over 40, but with winds 25-35 mph and gusting to 50, they stayed inside. Stayed cold and windy Monday and Tuesday and they showed no interest in going out. Today the wind has moderated and when it got up over 40 this afternoon, they ventured out. They're 4 weeks old today.
While they were staying in the coop, we gave them wormy compost in a pan as well as grain and fresh greens in their feeders. Also filled their hot water jug through the day as last thing at night and first thing in the morning.
Now I'll stop about the chicks and stick to rabbits. Just thought I ought to say there is a limit to what they'll go out in after advocating for getting them out sooner instead of waiting for full feathering.

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Re: 3 wk chicks moved to new outdoor coop today

Post Number:#15  Unread postby MaggieJ » Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:52 pm


Please! Don't stop talking about your poultry!

It's important that people know that chickens can be raised without all the modern bells and whistles. If the worst that happened is that the chicks chose to stay in their house during those unseasonably cold days, then I'd count that as a success. They showed good sense. I admit, I was wondering how they fared. Glad to hear that the hot water jugs helped.

You might want to make sure they have access to good grit. They get most of what they need from the ground, but a large bag of fine grit from the feed store will cost only about $5 and it will last for years. They sell all different sizes of grit.
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