Broiler chicks outside? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We are in Western Wisconsin, we have 45 HY-Y chicks that are 1 week old. They are now in a livstock tank and happy. We have arranged to put them in our hay field, in a 16' x 16' are with a tarped cover. It has been mild lately and with cool nights coming, can anyone reccomened any other tips. Should we keep a light on for a while? What if it gets too cold/hot? We plan to butcher @ 8wks. We don't have a predator problem, although plan to chicken wire the cattle panels all the way around the bottom. Is is better for these meat birds to forage around and have grass to eat? Advice please, what a great place to learn about poultry. TM

-- Terry Miller (, August 23, 2001


-- JR (, August 23, 2001.

-- JR (, August 23, 2001.

Terry, The hatcheries say to give chicks supplemental heat until they feather out since the fuzz while so cute does not maintain body heat. The old saying of they will huddle under the light if too cold and scatter out with beaks open and little wings outstretched if too hot still holds true. I have chicks under a plain bulb 40 watt in a box and it is over 100 degrees(days) still here in Kansas. I have the bulb up about 18-20 inches from the floor and they have room to get out from under it in the daytime. so, do not be in too big of a hurry to take away their heat source. Good luck, I love baby chicks!

-- Karen Mauk (, August 23, 2001.

Do you know what your nighttime air temperature is? I just recently transfered my 3-4 week old broiler chicks to a truck pen. They have feathers on their wings, tail feathers, and down the middle of their backs but our nighttime air temperaure is only getting down to the mid 70's. So far I haven't lost any but rain is in the forecast so I may need to add a heat lite in case any of them get wet and the wind blows. I have just calculated the expense of what my birds will cost me by the time I butcher. If everything goes as planned I will be eating cornish hens for .75 cents a bird and fryers for $1.78 a bird. Wow I haven't ate birds at that price range since I was a kid!

-- Russell Hays (, August 23, 2001.

Okay, I am somewhat of a renegade. If someone says, you have to do it this way, I've got to find out why and if it's really true. I got a batch of chicks of a dual-purpose breed developed by Frey's Hatchery near Toronto. The woman at the feed store said they are an extremely hardy bird. I have read about how you're supposed to keep them in the brooder until they're fully feathered out, gradually raising the light to get them used to cooler temperatures. Well, I kept my chicks in the brooders until they were one week old. By that time they had wing and tail feathers and some back feathers. They were also too big for the brooders I had so I decided to see if they would survive outside. The days were warm, in the 80s, and the nights were cool 60s. We had a box with a door so they could be shut up out of drafts at night. They did huddle toqether at night to keep warm, but I did not lose any chicks. They are now six weeks old, doing just fine. A couple of weeks ago we had nighttime temps in the low 40s. They were sleeping with the door open and had no problems. I probably would not do this with a more delicate breed, but then I prefer a breed that doesn't have to be babied too much.

-- Cathy N. (, August 23, 2001.

That reminds me Russell, I need to work out my costs per bird. Doing up 3 tomorrow and the rest maybe next week (some could use a bit more time I think) at the 10- 11 week stage. I am hoping to come out at under $5 bucks a bird. I used organic feed most of the time...sigh......even with the free ranging they ate a pile. Turkeys should be ready in October. As for putting them out..I am inclined to think that during the day in clear weather they will be fine as long as there is shade and ok at night as long as they are well sheltered from wind and rain.

-- Alison in N.S. (, August 23, 2001.

Allison, one thing that has helped me out is that the birds were given to me free. Plus they were already one week old when I got them. Also if I was to add in the money received from selling extra eggs that my laying hens produced then the price would be even cheaper! This homestead stuff is very pleasing!

-- Russell Hays (, August 23, 2001.

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