I hope I'm not duplicating a previous discussion--I did check the past forums first, promise!
I have 8 chicks that will be 4 weeks old tomorrow (*sniff*), and I'm trying to think through the logistics of getting them out into their coop without killing them with the cold. I know, it was probably just stupid and irresponsible for me to have gotten chicks so late in the season, but something snapped in me, and I just couldn't NOT get them, ya know?
Anyway, here are the details of my situation:
I have a fully-enclosed coop & run set on the ground. The coop itself is raised 3 ft. off the ground, has closeable windows and two ventilation openings in the top that can be closed as well. The coop is not insulated, nor does it currently have any heating. I would like to avoid using heat if possible, but I'm prepared to use a heat lamp out there if necessary, especially if a transition period becomes necessary.
I have two speckled sussexes, three buff orpingtons, and three rhode island reds. All of these breeds are rated as hardy for winter. All of the chicks are either fully, or nearly fully, feathered now.
The chicks brooders are now down to 75*-80*F during the day; I need to get a better idea of how cool it gets at night, though.
The room the brooders are in can easily go down in temperature--they're actually in the cold-porch on the side of our house. It's the heat lamps that have been keeping the room sauna-like lately. I can open windows and such to bring the room in line with outside temperatures.
I live in Indiana, zone 5b. Forecast for my area for the upcoming week has highs in the mid-70's, and lows in the mid-40's, with a couple of days dropping down to high 30's. The daytime temps don't phase me at all--the chicks will be totally fine with those temps. It's the nights that worry me most.
Thank you for reading! Anyone have any experience here? Suggestions? Thoughts? Chiding for getting chicks so late in the season? All input is appreciated (except maybe from the last point, although I'm sure I deserve it). On the plus side, if I can pull this off, the chicks should start laying right at the beginning of spring, which would rock....