When Can Chicks Go Outside? Crucial Information You Need To Know
When can baby chicks go outside? At what age can chickens go outside in winter? Are there any essential things I should know before letting them come face to face with the out-of-doors?
There are a series of important things you should know about when chicks can go outside. And we are here to explain the most crucial points!
Freeing the Fluff Balls – At What Age Can Chicks Go Outside?
There are a few things to consider in order to answer this question. Let’s take a look at them below.
How old are chicks when they can go outside? When can chicks go outside without a heat lamp?
You’ll see that whenever chicks are brought up by their mother hen, they’ll be roaming outside from day one.
Things work quite differently, however, when chicken keepers take on the role of momma bird – as baby chicks won’t have their mom to give them a warm embrace whenever they feel cold!
So, when can baby chicks go outside to play? ... when can my chicks go outside?
Because hens allow their offspring to spend longer periods of time outside as they grow up, we try to do something similar.
It is often suggested to start taking chicks out for short excursions around 4 weeks of age, just as long as temperatures are in line with those delineated by general temperature guidelines – take a look at the table below.
When they’re 4 weeks old, for example, chicks should be kept at a temperature of 80ºF.
|6||70ºF (or room temp.)|
|7||65ºF (or room temp.)|
These brief outdoor expeditions will allow them to gradually acclimate, get some exercise, and forage for food. Refrain from doing so if your chicks seem sick or debilitated though, and consult with your vet instead.
Make sure to provide them with food and water, as well as with shade and a small sheltered area.
Also remember to always supervise these outings, because at this point chicks are very vulnerable to predators.
If it becomes rainy or windy – or if the younglings don’t seem to be enjoying themselves – bring them back in.
Learn more about how to raise baby chicks by reading our comprehensive guide on What to Feed Them and How to Care for Them.
When can baby chicks go outside in winter?
Normally, chicks fully feather by 6 to 8 weeks of age, though this varies depending on the breed and individual bird.
Fully feathered means that all their down or fluff has been replaced by real feathers – an important stage as down by itself is unable to retain heat.
Feathers, on the other hand, are able to fluff up and trap warm air with the help of underlying down feathers.
Therefore, you should avoid putting your baby chicks outside in winter entirely, as they will be at risk of freezing to death.
Wait until they are fully feathered instead, and when you do decide to bring them out, do it little by little instead of making a sudden switch.
Watch John Suscovich’s 4 minute video, “Do chickens need heat in the winter?” for further information on chickens in chilly temperatures!
When can chicks go outside full time in cold weather?
If you’ve gradually exposed your fully feathered younglings to cold winter temperatures without having any trouble, they are probably ready to go outside full time in cold weather, as long as they have access to a coop that is safe, clean, dry, and well-ventilated.
Note, also, that the more chicks there are in a flock, the more they can group together for warmth.
Remember to do a few rounds during their first couple of nights out to check if they’re alright!
When can chicks go outside full time? And when can chickens sleep outside?
The same rule applies as to when letting chicks outside in winter… wait until their fluff has been replaced by robust plumage.
Keep in mind that most chicks develop their wing feathers first, then their chest feathers, followed by the rest of their bodies.
Therefore, don’t allow them out full time if their entire bodies are not yet covered with feathers.
Again, you want to make a slow transition that goes from a heated environment, to an unheated but comfortable one, to finally placing them in an outdoor and sheltered location.
Go ahead and read Hobby Farms’ article on Letting Chicks Outside, which elaborates on the importance of keeping the chill off your babies… even in summer.
When can chicks go outside with older chickens?
It is usually best to wait for chicks to be more or less the size of your existing flock members – which will occur by about 12 weeks of age – to begin the introduction process.
This way, you can safely integrate them without them being overly threatened by the current pecking order of your settled flock.
Read our guide on How to Introduce New Chickens to The Flock to learn more on the subject.
Bottom Line – When Can My Chicks Go Outside?
Feathers are the most important factor in knowing at what age chicks can go outside and face the world.
As a rule of thumb, know that although temperature guidelines will serve as a reference for understanding your baby chicks’ needs, their physical development and behavior will be what actually provides you with clues as to what’s right for them.
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