When can I put my chicks outside and/or with the adult chickens?
Many times when people buy chicks this question usually doesn't come up until after the chicks are settled into their brooder and start to grow. People then wonder, what next?
How long should I keep them in this brooder?
*Learn more here about caring for new baby chicks in their brooder.
Here is a great guideline for graduating chicks in each stage:
Brooder: Hatch-6 weeks. Don't put all ages together..for example if you have 1 weeks chicks they shouldn't go in with 4 week chicks.
Grow out pen: 6 weeks to 4 months. Chicks should be in grow out pens of same size chicks. If you have multiple sizes/ages chicks, then you'll need multiple grow out pen areas. Chicks can go to grow out pens when fully feathered. Don't confuse this with their feathers on their bodies. I have seen people confuse a 3 week old chick as fully feathered because it has feathers on its body. What you want to look for is full feathers on its head. If it still has chick fluffiness on its head, it is not fully feathered. That's the last place I've noticed to get feathers. Which is why I think people overlook it.
Adult area: 4 months and older.
I highly advise never to put chickens younger than 4 months in with adult chickens. They will most likely kill them. (5-6 months if bantams and/or very small at 4 months if the other chickens are not bantams/very small)
The only exception is if a momma hen is raising chicks. As long as she is protecting them. They'll be fine with the others. If she is not, then the guidelines above apply.
Do brooders need to be indoors?
No, depending on outside temps, their brooder, and the set up for protection brooders can be indoors or outdoors. Just make sure they have access to heat for adequate warmth per age guidelines. Also, be sure it's not too hot for them and they're in shade or they can die from heat exhaust. Never keep their food and water under heated areas. They should be in the coolest spots in the brooder.
What is a brooder, grow out and adult area?
Brooder is like a tote or anything small just intended for chicks up to 6 weeks of age.
Learn more about brooder care here.
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, sectioned off area in the main chickens coop if large enough, or appropriately built and sized chicken cages, chicken tractor, etc...
I actually have multiple brooders and grow outs as I raise chickens every month so must accommodate based on ages/sizes.
But I'm a poultry farmer. For those who simply raise chickens for themselves..usually only one of each is needed.
Adult Area is the main chicken coop and run accommodating the full grown chickens.