Chickens are a great livestock for homesteads, as they increase self-sufficiency and their needs are cheaply and simply met.
If you’re interested in getting chicks for your homestead, you might be curious to know: When can chicks go outside?
In this article, I will cover some key information about looking after chicks, including when they can go outside, so you have a better idea of chick care.
So, let’s get into it.
Chickens are great for increasing self-sufficiency for many different reasons. These include but are not limited to:
- Chickens provide fresh eggs – It doesn’t get much fresher than eggs from your own chickens, and keeping them means that you don’t need to rely on supermarkets for your morning eggs.
- Chickens help you to control pests – Keeping chickens is an excellent way of controlling pests, especially in your yard. They are great for protecting your homestead from flies, bugs, beetles, grasshoppers, and termites, as they’ll gobble up a lot of the bugs that they come in contact with.
- Chickens provide meat – Not only do chickens provide eggs, but you can also rear them to eventually become free-range meat.
- Chickens provide fertilizer – Chicken manure is a good natural fertilizer for your garden as it is naturally high in nitrogen. That being said, you’ll want to make sure that you compost your chicken manure to give it the time to break down some of the powerful nutrients before you apply it to your plants.
Where Can You Get Chicks For Your Homestead?
If you’re interested in nurturing chicks from young, there are a variety of different methods you can do this.
- You can incubate fertilized chicken eggs in an incubator.
- If you have a rooster to fertilize the chicken eggs in question, you can allow a broody hen to incubate the eggs naturally.
- You can buy newborn chicks from your local feed store.
- You can buy newborn chickens from a local hatchery.
When Can Chicks Go Outside?
When your chicks first hatch, they are vulnerable and need to be kept in a warm environment for the first few weeks.
It is absolutely vital that they are kept at 95 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week of their life and then you can slowly decrease this temperature every week until they are ready to go outside.
You will need to make sure that you are watching the chicks and are staying in tune with their needs by observing their behavior.
For instance, if the chicks seem like they are all huddled together under the heat lamp, then it is likely that they are cold.
If they are spread out on the opposite side of the box from the lamp, then it could be that the temperature is too hot for them.
It is your responsibility to make sure that you’re adjusting the temperature accordingly with the chick’s behavior.
So, when can chicks go outside?
This comes down to a few factors, including the chicks’ age, the temperature outside, and your location.
At around six to eight days old, the chick will start to grow its first feathers. However, you must wait until they are full-feathered, as they won’t be ready to be permanently kept outside until they are.
Once your chicks have fully grown their feathers and have become bigger from around 6 to 10 weeks old, then they could be ready to go outside to the chicken coop.
However, you should be careful not to rush this process, as they need their feathers to be able to withstand the elements and keep warm in the chicken coop.
You should also note that at the age of 6 weeks, they should only be put out if the temperature outside is mild or at least 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
That being said, if the day temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit but the night temperature is lower than 65 degrees, it is still too cold for your chick to be kept outside at night.
Following this rule will ensure that they are safe and warm enough.
Where you live also plays a huge role in when you can put your chicks outside.
For instance, if the climate where you live gets very hot throughout the day, but gets extremely cold during the night time, you will need to sensibly adjust when your chick can go outside in accordance with the climate.
When Should You Bring Chicks Inside?
When you don’t have a mother to guard your chicks with her warmth, it’s important to be mindful of the temperature outside and when to bring your chicks inside.
While it’s important for your chicks to get some fresh air and play time out in the sun, you will need to make sure that the temperature outside is as warm as the brooder.
You will also need to make sure that they have access to water and feed, and take into account any weather conditions that could alter the temperature.
Bringing your chicks inside is a much better alternative than putting a heater in the chicken coop outside.
Although you might think that a heater in your chicken coop is the answer to keeping your chicks warm, you should be aware that they are an extreme fire hazard.
If your coop catches fire because of this, the results will be heartbreaking.
The only reason to add a heater to your coop is if the temperatures regularly drop well below freezing, as chickens grow to be incredibly hardy creatures.
That being said, while they’re still young chicks, you will need to make sure that you are bringing them in during the night or when the temperature drops until they are able to withstand the colder temperatures.
Hopefully after reading this article you have a better idea of what keeping chicks at your homestead entails and when they can go outside.
Your chick’s safety should always be the priority, so you should never rush this process.
Good luck and enjoy rearing your chicks!