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Q: How do I transition my juvenile chicks to their outdoor coop when it's cold outside?

A:

There is no perfect age to transition your chicks to their outdoor coop, but generally by the time they are 5 or 6 weeks old, they're getting large for an indoor brooder and will want more space. Plus, they will be mostly feathered and able to maintain their body temperatures on their own.

But just because you've adjusted the heat gradually down to the ambient temperature of your home doesn't mean they can go from 68 F inside to 15 F outside in the dead of winter!Sudden temperature changes are a real danger to your birds. You'll need to take steps to make sure their transition outside doesn't shock them. Although chickens bear cold weather quite well, they'll need to slowly acclimate themselves to the new conditions. For that reason, you may want to provide some sort of additional heat source in the coop, and slowly lower the temperature every few days until it is about equal to your outdoor ambient local temperatures.

Remember, coops and brooders are very dusty, so double and triple check to make sure you're not creating a chicken coop fire hazard with your heat source. Heat lamps that get covered in dust or get too close to bedding can be a real danger!

Alternatively, you could consider transitioning them by using a garage, 3-season porch or the like. We don't recommend providing a heated coop long term, for for short term use in the transition to the "big girl" coop, it is sometimes essential!