How do I set up a grow out pen?

Your chicks are getting bigger and ready to graduate to a grow out pen. How chickciting! But, what exactly is a grow out pen and how should one be set up?

A Grow out pen
 is a separate area where chicks 6 weeks up to 4 months, usually outside or in a barn, are able to grow until desired size/age to be introduced to flock.

This can be the only coop and run you have properly secured if these are your first chickens. If you already have adult chickens you can use an outdoor dog kennel properly secured with temporary coop inside wrapped in hardware cloth, sectioned off area in the main chicken coop if large enough, an appropriately built and sized chicken cages, a chicken tractor, etc... 

If you build any grow out pen with flooring we recommend using hardware cloth flooring to make cleaning easier and more affordable to not have to keep replacing straw, hay or pine straw flakes.

In most cases the grow out pens are outside and it can be hard to keep the floor from getting wet from rain, moldy, and other bacteria issues. So having a floor that doesn't absorb moisture or stay full of poop especially because it's larger poops, will help increase your changes of healthy chicks. 

If you have a grow out pen on the ground I highly recommend using construction sand for flooring unless it's a chicken tractor grow out pen. 

You will also need to consider the time of year and weather outside when transferring to grow out in your set up. In hot, humid areas you should be sure there's plenty of ventilation. In cold, winter areas you want to be sure that it's draft free and dry inside. You may even want to consider a way to keep the grow out warm for chicks who need to acclimate from indoor /heat lamp warm brooders straight to the grow out pen. It's very important to consider safety in you want to use a heat lamp in a wooden grow out pen. 

We recommend talking to people in local groups as to what they do for warmth and safety for their grow outs. I do know some people just have tossed 6 week old chicks out into the freezing grow out pen successfully. Just know that is not always going to be the case if you don't acclimate them especially considering they may not have had the same brooder set up and also same breed chicks. Some are way more hardy than others. 

As a poultry farmer raising a lot of chickens we actually have 2 level grow outs. Our first grow out pens are large cages outdoors for chicks ages 6 weeks to 2-3 months and depending on size they will graduate to our second level grow out area between ages 2-4 months. We then place 4 month olds with the older chickens, in which, we have multiple sections for breeders, layers, for sale. 

It's really up to you on what will work best for your needs. Now you can also keep in mind that when the grow out pen is not in use it can be used for many other reasons : A breeding pen, a recovery center, broody chicken pen to make her unbroody or for privacy to hatch eggs, a holding pen: getting ready to cull chickens, aggressive chickens in time out. 

If you want a grow out pen for multi-use then make sure it's not inside the main chicken area. Have it in its own separate location near your chickens.

To see some good examples of grow out pens visit this pinterest link.

Poultry farm photo created by freepik - www.freepik.com
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