Apr 2, 2013

When to Move Chicks from Brooder to Chicken Coop

Many factors play a role in determining when the time is right to move chicks from the brooder to the coop and we'll take a look at them here.
I am often asked when chicks can stop using a heat source and move from the brooder to the chicken coop. The short answer is...it depends. Many factors play a role in determining when the time is right to move chicks from the brooder to the coop and we'll take a look at them here. In the heat of summer, chicks may require supplemental heat for only a few weeks, in very cold weather, chicks may need supplemental heat for much longer.
Broody hens co-parenting chicks
I have learned more about chick comfort from observing mother hens with their chicks than I have from anything I have ever read. The first few days after hatching, chicks spend most of their time underneath the mother hen, venturing out occasionally to explore, eat and drink. When they get chilly, they simply return to the hen for warmth. Before long, they spend more time away from her than underneath her.  My Silkie, Freida, begins to distance herself completely from her chicks at approximately five weeks old. Six weeks is a good age to begin assessing whether chicks are ready to leave the brooder for the coop. The following factors also play a role in the determination.
 Silkie mother hen with three week old chicks in 29 degree temperatures
AGE/FEATHERING
In general, most chicks are fully-feathered by 6 weeks of age. That means that their chick down is gone and they have grown real feathers, which allow them to regulate their body temperature by trapping warm air against their bodies when cold. Not all breeds or individual chickens will be fully feathered at the same age, the actual feathering should be considered, not merely the age of the chick. 

This  chick is a cross between a Buff Orpington and a Black Copper Marans.
Day old chick
One week old chick
2 week old chick
3 week old chick
 week old chick next to day old chick
5 week old chick
6 week old chick dreaming of the big kid coop
7 week old chick
8 week old chicken
9 week old chicken
10 week old chicken
11 week old chicken
12 week old chicken with a day old chick
TEMPERATURES/TIME OF YEAR
“The Formula:” is what I call the usual temperature guidelines commonly suggested for day old chicks. The Formula holds that brooder temperatures should be kept between 90-95° F for the first week after hatching, and reduced by five degrees each week thereafter until the brooder temperature equals the ambient room temperature.

The Formula
Week 1= 90-95°F
Week 2= 85°F
Week 3= 80° F
Week 4= 75° F
Week 5= 70° F
Week 6=65°F

The Formula is a general guideline; the behavior of chicks is a much better indicator of their actual comfort level. The truth about The Formula is that while 90°F is critical in the first week, chicks do not need as much constant heat as heat lamps deliver for as long as it is ordinarily recommended. When chicks are observed spending very little time near the heat source, it can ordinarily be eliminated.
Speckled Sussex chick
Ideally, chicks will not require a heat source when moving from brooder to coop. If the temperatures outside remain above 65°F and the chicks are at least 5 weeks old, they can move into the coop without supplemental heat. 
Chicken coop

COOP CONSIDERATIONS
1. If a heat source is required, is there electricity to the coop and if so, can heat be safely supplied? If not, the move should wait until outside temperatures are warmer.
The chicken coop must be predator-proof before moving chicks into it.
2.  Is the coop predator proof?  Chicks need to be protected from predators getting into the coop as well as from escaping from the safety of the coop themselves. Hardware cloth should be used to keep predators out and chicks in the coop. 

NUMBER OF CHICKS
Each chick generates body heat and the more chicks there are, the better able they are to keep each other warm when necessary.
 
OLDER FLOCK MEMBERS
If older flock members are already living in the coop, it’s best to wait until the chicks are closer in size to the mature birds before beginning the process of integration into the flock. Smaller birds can be seriously hurt by normal pecking-order behavior from older, bigger birds.
 
The integration process should be slow and deliberate to minimize conflict and stress for both groups of birds. I use The Playpen Method, which is a tried-and-true recipe for a low-stress, low-conflict merger. 

STRESS OF THE MOVE
Transition from one housing unit to another is extremely stressful for chickens of all ages. The behavioral problems that can result from this stress can be managed when knowing what to expect.  

Keeping chicks confined to the chicken coop for a period of time after moving into it gives them the chance to adjust to the stress of the move and identify the coop as home.
1. Instill the Concept of Home
When chicks are moved, they will be confused and will require time to acclimate to the coop. They need time to adjust to the idea that the coop is their permanent home and the place to which they should return at night. For this reason, I recommend keeping them inside the coop for several weeks prior to allowing them access to the run. Chicks that are not given this initial time to decompress often fail to return to the safety of the coop at dusk independently, which can be frustrating for the chicken-keeper and dangerous for the birds. While it is possible to "coop train" older birds, it's better to do it at the time of the big move.
Egg cartons stacked inside nest boxes prevent chickens from sleeping in them
2. Deny Access to Nest Boxes
Upon arrival in the coop, the initial inclination of stressed chicks is to hide and nest boxes provide a natural refuge for scared chicks. Sleeping chickens are pooping chickens and while the habit of sleeping in nest boxes may not be a problem initially, when they begin egg-laying, it will be. Droppings soil freshly laid eggs and increase the risk of illness from their consumption even if they are washed. Blocking physical access to the nest boxes prior to the move prevents the chicks from getting into the habit of sleeping in them. Avoiding the behavior is much easier than trying to break the habit. By 17-18 weeks of age, the boxes can be opened for business.  

176 comments :

  1. Thank you so much for this info. I was worried about when and how to move my babies.

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  2. Karen Bates4/2/13, 11:08 AM

    Great post, I needed to hear so much of this as I am receiving three little new chicks this month! Thanks, I read this and another post...great info.

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  3. Thanks, Kathy. That's super informative. I can't wait till I can get chickens! Just have to get the coop built. :-/ Your pictures of their growth really puts in perspective how quickly it happens.

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  4. when you have a hen raise the babies, do you seperate her from the flock with the babies or does she protect them?

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  5. TheChickenChick4/2/13, 2:03 PM

    It really depends on the hen, Jessica. Most of the time I let hens raise the chicks in the coop with the rest of the flock.

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  6. Great article. Since I get my chicks next week, I'm gleaning all info I can for knowing what to do when. I have a Brinsea 20 for heat and will use plastic totes tunnelled together for 3 wks. Then MIL gets here and she will be in the room so they will ahve to go out to the pen in the barn but I will keep them in the brooder if possible so they'll be safer. Love all this info and I print it off as I like a hard copy to refer to. Thanks for posting. Deb

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  7. I have my new flock of banty chicks and they are all tiny and fluffy still, but when would it be ideal for bantam chicks to go out side since they are smaller.

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  8. Wow. Read this too late. I've had my four hens almost two weeks now and they will not roost in the box. They choose to roost on a perch i the run. I have a chick in a box in the house and will introduce her to the flock in a few weeks. Should i put her in a large cage within the coop until the older hens get acquainted with her?

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  9. bethany.dopp4/3/13, 1:50 PM

    This may be a silly question, but I am new to this so I'll ask:
    When you block the nesting boxes what about older chickens who are laying? Where do they go?

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  10. TheChickenChick4/3/13, 10:45 PM

    The same rules apply for bantams, Laura.

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  11. TheChickenChick4/3/13, 10:48 PM

    I don't close off the nest boxes when laying hens are in the coop. The older hens tend to keep the babies out of the nest boxes since they're busy using them for egg-laying.

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  12. bethany.dopp4/4/13, 9:47 PM

    Thanks!

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  13. This was great information as this is our first batch of chicks (4 weeks old) and we are about a week from completing our coop. Since it is still cold here in Michigan, we plan to move them into the coop at 6 weeks. Thanks for the tips, Kathy! We are really hooked!!

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  14. Thanks for that information, Kathy!
    This is our first batch of chicks ever (4 weeks old) and we are about 1-2 to weeks out from completing their coop. It is still cold here, so we hope to move them into the coop by mid April. We are totally hooked, what a great experience raising chickens...we cannot wait until the eggs get here!

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  15. This was great information as this is our first batch of chicks (4 weeks old) and we are about a week from completing our coop. Since it is still cold here in Michigan, we plan to move them into the coop at 6 weeks. Thanks for the tips, Kathy! We are really hooked!!

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  16. TheChickenChick4/7/13, 11:32 PM

    As long as your brooder is kept clean and dry, that's the best you can do.

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  17. Winona Thompson4/11/13, 12:53 PM

    I have a barred rock hen who has gone broody. Her eggs should hatch on April 15th. I would like to know if nothing hatches or it is a small hatch, can I buy some day old chicks and put them under her? Will she accept them if I just stick them under her? My dh doesn't think so, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask you. I have raised chickens for many years, but never tried this. Thanks.

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  18. TheChickenChick4/11/13, 10:12 PM

    She should, Winona. I only qualify it with "should" because I have had a few broodies who have sat on eggs for three weeks only to kill them when they hatch, so there is no guarantee, but most broodies don't know the difference between chicks that they hatched and ones they didn't. I have done it successfully many times.

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  19. Melanie Christopherson4/30/13, 10:41 AM

    Just now looking at my 4 week old chicks and wondering about all of this. Thank you, I am now fairly confident when to move them into their awesome new pullet condo.

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  20. This was prefect timing for me! I have 6 ~ 5 week old chicks that we are getting ready to move to the coop. We thought we had plenty of time to build our coop before they were ready ~ little did we know how fast they grow! I have 2 questions ~ do I need to introduce sand to them before putting them in the coop? We have not taken our chicks outside (they are in a large box in the basement) do we allow them to go in the yard first or is it okay to move them from their current home directly to the coop and keep them inside for a couple weeks?

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  21. TheChickenChick4/30/13, 9:51 PM

    It's fine to introduce them to the sand for the first time when you move them to the coop. You can take them on field trips prior to this weekend outside, but once they move to the coop, I'd keep them confined as described for at least a week, if not longer, before letting them out into the run.

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  22. And my broody last year did take some chicks that were a few days old....I gave her five. I was scared so when she took the five I tried to give her four more....nope....found them hiding behind the nest box. She did not hurt them but she was having no part of them.

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  23. I just lost 3 of my young Black Copper Marans hens keeping them in the playpen method cage (dog cage) due to I believe a rat getting to them during the night. It is now payback time for those "F'n" Rats!

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  24. I kept our 15 chicks and 4 keets inside the brooder room (converted children's playhouse) until 8 weeks old, the first week of May. Temps had been too cold at night to move them to the large 10x10x6 dog kennel with roof, roosts, hay bales. We had a sudden cold snap and I hung their brooder lamp over the roost they favor, tacked up shade cloth and plastic to block the wind, and they were fine. Also had positioned two wood pallets, boards on top, covered with plastic and two roosts propped inside. Put hay bale in front and loose hay inside. They cozy down in there, too. They will be in the kennel at least until June 1, adjacent to the big girls' run and coop so they can get acquainted. The big girls free range during the day and there is a lot of peeking through at each other.

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  25. I also use apple cider vinegar with the mother. Stress from expanding the original coop and enclosed run (noise, etc.), plus molting created a brief spate of loose droppings and lack of egg laying. I gave them plain, active culture Greek yogurt, which they absolutely love! Everybody's in good shape and egg production is getting back to normal.

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  26. My uncles had great success with saving the shells of the hen hatched chicks, cracking in hand and rubbing shells over bought chicks, this trick often worked up to a week to 10 days and the hens NEVER turned the babies away...

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  27. I have so much to learn....

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  28. Hello, Kathy. I'm a newbie. I have my first ever chickens, 8 week old Barred Rocks. I adore being a chicklet mama. They seem to be thriving and are in our Coop + Run combo. (All one unit) I wanted to know when I'll be able to tell if I have a rooster in the flock. They were sold as pullets, but I was told there could be a mistake. So far they all seem to match. Any indicators?

    I just joined your blog. I love the info and pictures.

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  29. TheChickenChick5/26/13, 7:09 PM

    Generally, roosters will begin growing bigger, redder combs and wattles than pullets, but that's just one indicator.

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  30. Tammy Townsend5/27/13, 7:33 AM

    I also bought what I thought were 6 pullets. However, I have 2 Easter Eggers and 1 of them I have heard starting to make what sounds like a rooster crow. I am honestly a little freaked out by the thoughts of having a rooster. It wasn't what I had sign up for....and I am taken totally by surprise at the prospect of what to do if I have a rooster!!

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  31. I have 5 - 8month old hens and 4- 2month old chicks. When should I integrate them together.

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  32. TheChickenChick6/1/13, 10:27 PM

    I would wait until the younger birds are approximately the same size as the older flock members- generally by 12 weeks they can hold their own.

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  33. I gave into my broody hen, and got her some chicks! She is the best chicken mommy :) I currently have them in a rabbit cage inside the housing part of the coop. It is getting ready to hit over 100* here, and I feel like they should be moved to the outdoor enclosure of the coop. The mom and babies are together,and the other 5 hens are in the coop as well. When do you feel it would be safe to integrate them without the safety of the pen? Will mom be able to protect them? They are 2 weeks old.

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  34. TheChickenChick6/5/13, 10:45 PM

    They should be fine now.

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  35. Jody Hale Rivett7/3/13, 11:39 AM

    Thank you so much for making this information available to those of us who are new to raising chickens. I would never have imagined the need to seclude them to the coop initially or the need to block the nesting boxes. All great info.

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  36. Purplemaddie7/20/13, 9:39 AM

    Hi There! Love your blog!

    My chicks are six weeks old on this coming Wednesday. They look pretty feathered out although this is my first time so I am not 100% sure. Anyhow, we had the heatwave too so I have had them inside. Tomorrow it will be 77 (finally) and I am planning a move to the coop, but at night the forecast said it will be 57 degrees. Without any heat in my basement it has been around 70 degrees. They all seem fine. Do you think it will be OK to keep them at 57? I have a light socket in the coop but it is too close to the side to use a heat lamp. I could put a smaller bulb in for supplental heat but there is no room for the light guard. Any help is deeply appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Madeline Goodman

    Portland, Maine

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  37. Janine Jarrell8/25/13, 11:58 PM

    I am so happy to have found you on Facebook and access your blogs. I have been raising chickens for four years, but I am new to incubating chicks. Although I ordered chicks four years ago, incubating them is very different. I have found myself more attached to the little guys.Your posts have helped me and coached me through questionable periods. I thought for a while that I was alone with my new obsession--chicks. My daughter has dubbed me as "the chicken lady," of which I wear that badge with honor. Thank you for your wonderful info and encouraging words. I feel that I have made a friend in the world of chickens.

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  38. Middle of texas 100 days 75 night. What is earliest they can go in outside tractor

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  39. Do your roosters share the hen house at night, or do they go into a different enclosure?

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  40. TheChickenChick9/18/13, 10:15 PM

    They stay in the same coop by choice.

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  41. So helpful, thanks

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  42. Love your website! Thank you for taking time to share your insights and experience. I have a question I can't seem to find an answer to... We have 7-8 week old silkie chicks (older than we planned on getting) and the temperature outside ranges from high 30s to the teens during the day and teens or lower at night (and will continue to do so for the next 4 months). Is there a process to acclimate these young birds to the cold at this age and this weather? These are our first chicks, so we have never been through a harsh inland NW winter with them *and* they are at that transition stage during our coldest times. Being silkies, I am not sure if they are 'fully feathered' or not! Can we keep them in a large brooder box through winter in the garage, if they have 2 sq feet per bird, good ventilation and such?

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  43. TheChickenChick11/25/13, 1:27 AM

    Those birds are much too young AND the wrong breed to try to put outside this winter. Silkies are not cold hardy and Silkie chicks are very vulnerable to the cold.

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  44. I have 8 week old Rhode Island reds and we live in Florida they have been inside and without a heat lamp for 2 weeks now. Are they old enough to go outside without a heat lamp now? They temp should be the low of 37 degrees and the high of 50 degrees for a day or so.

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  45. I am ordering chicks for the first time and am having a hard time deciding what date to have the shipped. Before putting them out fulltime, does the nighttime tempurature need to remain above 65 degrees?

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  46. Kevin Jones2/8/14, 9:07 AM

    Any advice on how to integrate the new chicks into a coop with older chickens and deny them access to the nesting boxes while still allowing the mature hens access for egg laying?

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  47. TheChickenChick2/9/14, 9:18 PM

    You're not going to be able to deny the babies access to the nest boxes during the day- the older birds should be deterrent enough for them though. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/06/integrating-new-flock-members-playpen.html

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  48. Greetings from New Zealand.
    I have a mother bantam and 3 10 week old chicks,over the last couple of days for the first time mother is wandering off from her chicks when they are out of their run,today she went over the back fence and spent the day at the daycare centre behind our house.She finally came home but I think the high fence may have been a problem.Just wondering is this a sign she is ready to start laying and how do I help encourage this. I am a new bantam dad....
    Thanks
    Clint

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  49. Great website. I've had chickens for years and still need advice about many things - all of which I have found my answers here.

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  50. Brandi Moore2/18/14, 6:21 PM

    I want to win

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  51. TheChickenChick2/18/14, 7:40 PM

    There is nothing you can do to encourage her to begin laying. She'll get there when her body is ready.

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  52. Pamela Marko2/22/14, 10:44 AM

    What type of brooder do you recommend for 15 chicks from day old until they are coop ready? I've seen all sorts - from storage bins to clickable panels - and would like your recommendation. Thanks!

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  53. TheChickenChick2/22/14, 7:49 PM

    I recommend (and use) cardboard boxes. They're easy to expand as the chicks grow.

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  54. temp in northern maine is now around 20-30 highs and drops too 0-10 ant night. My chicks will get here on the 21st. I will have a large brooder for the 55 chicks, knowing they will be in there around 8 weeks. Average temp in 8 weeks will be 40-50. will they be ok in that temp?

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  55. TheChickenChick3/6/14, 7:52 PM

    Will they be out in the coop? What will your heat source be?

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  56. boiled eggs is a probiotic and yogurt helps settle the stomach also helps with the loose stool

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  57. Where can I find you on fb

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  58. TheChickenChick3/13/14, 9:31 AM

    I'm on Facebook at http://www.Egg.Carton.Labels.by.ADozenGirlz

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  59. Sonja Cribb3/13/14, 9:37 AM

    For some reason it said the page doesn't exist :(

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  60. What is the best bedding to put in with baby chicks who are about three weeks old. I have pine shavings now. I am wondering if that needs to change as they get older before I put them in a permanent home. Am a new chicken mom and want to make sure I am doing what is best for them. Thank you for all your information.

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  61. Tracey Pounds3/17/14, 9:37 AM

    Try this Sonja: https://www.facebook.com/Egg.Carton.Labels.by.ADozenGirlz

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  62. Stacy L Hanlon3/17/14, 10:48 AM

    You have rather quickly become my go to for all my chick questions, and I always find answers...Thank You.

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  63. Angel Fogle Jack3/17/14, 11:41 AM

    https://www.facebook.com/Egg.Carton.Labels.by.ADozenGirlz

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  64. Renee Bonneau Sturgis3/17/14, 12:14 PM

    Excellent guide. Thanks! I have always worried about when to move them how much heat, etc.

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  65. I will likely need to move my chicks to the coop while they still need a heat source. Probably when they are 5-6 weeks old. Do you think a flat panel heater on the wall would be sufficient for them then? Our coop is well insulated but we are in Indiana, Im guessing we will have temps in the 40s-50s by then.

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  66. Denise Allison Magil3/17/14, 2:08 PM

    thank you what information you give is awesome

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  67. Cindi Smith3/17/14, 7:00 PM

    Thanks you for the wonderful info. I was wondering when to move my babies. They are 2 weeks old today and live in my house. I'll keep them in here till they are at least 5-6 weeks old. Should be in the 60's by then here in Okla. Thanks Kathy!

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  68. TheChickenChick3/17/14, 8:41 PM

    You bet!

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  69. TheChickenChick3/17/14, 8:58 PM

    Thanks Stacy!

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  70. I just bought 3 chicks that are about 2 weeks old from the store. Today my sebright bantam is showing being broody. Should I introduce her to my babies?

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  71. Laura Browning Bales3/18/14, 2:35 PM

    Thanks as always!! My last batch that hatched from the incubator was only 3 days behind our hen hatched group. I gave them to mama and she adopted them straight in with her others. So nice when that happens ;)

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  72. TheChickenChick3/18/14, 9:01 PM

    They're too old to give to a broody now.

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  73. Krystal Milosek3/21/14, 12:21 PM

    If I am bringing new chicks into the coop and my other chickens are ready to have the nesting boxes opened what should I do to keep the chicks from going into the nests?

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  74. Could you please tell me if i buy 2 or 3 silkies from one hatchery and 2 or 3 Easter Eggers from another hatchery, will they get along. i have heard that the silkies are very gentle and the Easter Eggers can be rather dominating and for this to work they must be the same age and come from the same hatchery.

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  75. TheChickenChick3/22/14, 1:29 AM

    Where you buy the birds has NOTHING to do with how they get along. How you introduce them has EVERYTHING to do with flock harmony. This is what I suggest regardless of breed, age or hatchery: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/06/integrating-new-flock-members-playpen.html

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  76. If my coop has the ability to be brooder like, meaning it can be kept warm, they don't have access outside yet, and it is safe, if kept at the right temps, can my 4 1/2 week chicks move out of the brooder?

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  77. Krystal Milosek3/22/14, 11:20 AM

    If we have hens that are ready to lay, how do we keep our younger chicks out of the nesting boxes?

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  78. TheChickenChick3/24/14, 11:31 PM

    Absolutely! Be sure it's predator-proof, warm enough and shut the nest boxes so they cannot get into them for a few more months. You don't want them sleeping in the nest boxes.

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  79. TheChickenChick3/24/14, 11:34 PM

    The only thing you can do is to close the nest boxes after eggs have been laid for the day so that the babies don't sleep in the nest boxes.

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  80. TheChickenChick3/24/14, 11:34 PM

    You will have to go out early in the morning to open the nest boxes for the hens though.

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  81. This was very helpful!

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  82. I learn something new on a daily basis. This newbie to the chicken world thanks you. You are a blessing.

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  83. This was great thank you for all of the good info!!

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  84. the chick girl4/1/14, 4:20 PM

    I won't be able to hide the nest boxes, I have other chickens who lay eggs. Is this ok?

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  85. I moved my (6) 6 week old chicks into their coop last weekend and they are doing great! Thanks to your advice :) I wanted a few more chicks than I got but they weren't available at the time. One is a roo, already crowing at 6 weeks :) Very cute! So that leaves me with 5 hens (maybe, if I don't get surprised.) Now some baby chicks are available, but my husband says no to the brooder in the house or in his workshop. Too much dust for him. I have a green house and was wondering if that would be an option. There are windows in the roof which can be opened so that the humidity would not build up and I have a secure wood and hardware cloth cover for the brooder. If the weather changes and it gets warm during the day I can move them outside with me. Any concerns I am not thinking of before I make this decision?

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  86. I'm a first time chick owner. Just bought 8. I've read & researched alot. This is the first I've heard anything about training them not to sleep in the nesting box. Also the first I've heard about training them to know the coop is home & where to settle at night.
    I believe you may have saved me from a big headache & loads of grief.
    Thank you so much for the info. ;-D

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  87. charla tatom4/4/14, 4:41 PM

    You have two "week 3s" in your temperature list with two different degrees. Just wondering what the numbers should be. Also, I live in Florida and my chicks are in our barn. They are 2 weeks old. During the day, the temp in the barn is 85. So would I just turn off the heat lamp during the day, but put it on at night when temps drop to 65 or 70? Also, Once they are 4 weeks old and the temp chart says 70. That means they would do fine without a heat source as long as it never drops below 70? Just wanting to make sure I understand the chart. Your blog is great, btw. I've read so many articles and have learned a lot. Thanks!

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  88. TheChickenChick4/4/14, 9:45 PM

    It's not a precise thing, Charla. Watch the chickens and see how they act at night. If they seem cold, huddled together, put the heater on. If they look comfortable, they probably don't need it.

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  89. TheChickenChick4/4/14, 10:05 PM

    Predator proofing is the main concern

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  90. Tamelyn Job4/4/14, 11:34 PM

    I love this site. I have found your blog very informational

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  91. i have 6 5 1/2 week chicks. they are getting antsy in their brooder and have actually started to peck at one (which i have had to separate til her hiney heals a bit). you said in this that if the temp is 65 and above....that includes at night? i live in nj, do you think they would be okay at 6 weeks to go to the coop? no run access of course for a while...

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  92. TheChickenChick4/8/14, 12:38 AM

    It's hard to know. They may, but they may not.

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  93. Hey joe here. Just want to drop a quick note. This chick is off the hook love her site. I have a 231 acre homestead in TN and enjoy my chickens, they bring a lot of joy and laughter to the homestead.

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  94. This was super helpful. Thank you! I have 6 week old chicks that I moved into a coop yesterday. Temps are dropping to the low 50's at night and the low 70's during the day. I've been challenged with how to position a heat lamp on the coop at night. The roosting area is above an open area and right now it's setup to heat the lower area which I'm hoping (heat rises) warms the roosting area up as well. They were chirping like mad last night so I added a second heat lamp and they were down below hopping around and happy this morning. The roosting area is completely enclosed except the ladder door area, but we've got 25+ MPH winds tonight. Tonight the second lamp hasn't solved the chirping issue and they seem very distressed. I'm wondering if it's the howling wind that they may be scared of vs. being cold? Any ideas?

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  95. TheChickenChick4/15/14, 1:51 AM

    They are too young to be outside in 50 degrees with a drafty coop on a very windy night. You are correct to be concerned about their noisy chirping. Noisy chicks are unhappy chicks. Get them to some place warmer. The stress from their discomfort alone can cause chickens to die.

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  96. Tasha Thornhill4/15/14, 7:13 AM

    Thank you so much, this was extremely helpful. I appreciate you taking the time to help me.

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  97. TheChickenChick4/16/14, 12:41 AM

    Thanks for stopping by, Joe!

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  98. This was great information! I have 8 day old chicks and it's like being a new mom all over again. The helpful tips you offered for putting them in a coupe is just what I was looking for. Thank you!

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  99. I ended up putting a board over the most open portion of the coop. Kept the wind out and they were quiet and happy. Thanks!

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  100. Hi my husband and I have 4 chicks they are 6 weeks old and have all there feathers and we bought a coop that holds 4 to 6 chickens. do we keep there food and water in the coop or out in the run. do they need to have there water and food at night or just in the day . As you can tell we are new to this so any help would be great thanks

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  101. Gregory Harris4/21/14, 11:34 AM

    My wife and I are having a bit of a disagreement on how to move our 11 chicks to their tractor. I have a lot of predators in my area so I have made a tractor with a roosting/nesting box. I am also building a run to give them a little more space. I don't plan on free ranging except later in the evening when I am home to keep an eye on them.

    Back to the original question, do the chicks need to be in the roosting box ONLY, or simply kept in the tractor to get them 'homed'?

    By the way, I saw the nipple systems on your blog and ordered one from QC supply. Had it in 3 days and pretty cheap too. Works like a dream! Thanks for the blog and ideas!

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  102. Hi we are first time chick owners we have 6 pullets. They will be a week old on weds. I might be a day off. Seem to be doing good. I don't have a big brooder. Its a big plastic storage container 32 gallon. How will I know when to give more room for them what do you suggest? The workers @ tractor supply gave us a crash course and I've read alot but still very nervous. I just found out about paste butt. Thank goodness the one had it bad for a day, at first I thought it was normal , then I was reading and found out No. So she is cleaned up. My other question is can we take them out at all and let them walk around on the floor? Do you have any special tips you can give us? I want to know all I can to give them a happy healthy life and home. Thank you in advance for your help. Btw we live in western NY.

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  103. Hi - thanks for the information. We've had chickens for several years however we have started a new flock of 12 chicks. They are 6-8 weeks old with their adult feathers. We put them outside earlier this week in a separate space (an enclosed rabbit hutch with three solid sides) from the adult chicken. Tonight is predicted to be in the 30's and they won't have a heat lamp. We live in NW Nevada so think high dry desert environment. Do I need a heat lamp and if so when can I remove the lamp?

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  104. TheChickenChick4/23/14, 9:13 AM

    My strong preference is to keep the food and water out in the run since they only need it when they are awake and they are given access to the food and water first thing every morning.

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  105. Very interesting! My chicks are 8 weeks old and I just put them in their coop and let them out in the run during the day. I hope I didn't mess them up. :(

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  106. TheChickenChick4/24/14, 12:09 AM

    Give them more space than you think they need. Keep the brooder as clean as humanly possible. If it seems you cannot keep up with it, it's probably too small and they have outgrown it. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/03/baby-chick-basics-what-you-need-to-know.html

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  107. TheChickenChick4/24/14, 12:13 AM

    I'm not sure what you're asking b/c chickens should not sleep in a box, they should perch on a roost. Nest boxes are for laying eggs. Is the tractor their house/coop/home?

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  108. Gregory Harris4/24/14, 7:04 AM

    The tractor will be their home but since we ended up with more chicks than what I had originally built the tractor for, I am adding an enclosed run. The tractor has a completely open floor (kind if a run) but has a box (about 3x4') for roosting. It is almost completely closed in. I will also be adding nesting boxes there after a while. I want them to sleep in the box for safety. So, back to the original question, should they be kept solely in the roosting box or the tractor?

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  109. TheCrookedCoop4/24/14, 3:47 PM

    I have a question about integrating my chicks into my existing flock. We have different chicks and different stages...meat birds and a few layers are about 6 weeks old now, and most layers are around 5 weeks. Our meat birds are significantly larger than the layer chicks (nearly double the size), even though I got a mixed batch of australorps, orpingtons (in other words, no commercial meat birds). Our meat birds (also all roos) are currently living in a dog crate in the chicken coop with our current chickens (RIR, red sex link, white leghorns, one black Australorp, and two ducks...all layers). The adult layers are interested in the chicks, but they don't try to peck at them, even when the chicks stick their heads out between the bars. The chicks are VERY interested in the adult layers...every time the adults leave the coop for the day, the chicks plaster themselves to the bars like little kids on a bus or something. It's comical. My question is...when do you think it would be safe to mix the two? The meat birds are roos, and they have the typical chest-bumping roo attitude. We were thinking about having supervised time together at first when we can be out there with them all in the run. That way, any squabbles over food or water are put to rest quickly. Would now be too soon? The meat birds are probably a third of the size of our adult layers, but fully feathered, except for two boys who are missing some feathers on their back and one Turken.
    Also, I was hoping that the adult layers might "teach" the meat birds the way of things. You know, out of the coop via pop door in the morning when they hear me out there filling the waterers and the feed dishes. Into the coop when the sun goes down. Run across the yard to the funny looking featherless chicken who is calling "Heeeeeere, chick chick chick!" because that means treats or food. Scratching, looking for worms, dust baths....
    Your advice would be appreciated (and sorry for the length!).

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  110. just hatched my first they were born on Easter we are so excited they are so cute ty for the advise

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  111. TheChickenChick4/24/14, 10:36 PM

    Meat birds should be kept separate from laying hens. They're going to be processed in a couple of weeks, aren't they??

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  112. Mary Clendenin4/25/14, 9:21 AM

    My 4 BA chickies are now 4-5 weeks old and outgrowing their brooder box which is 28" x 30" x 28" tall. I live in a large RV and cannot put anything bigger inside. I can't put them out on the enclosed porch yet as our temps are running around low 30's at night with highs in the 50's to low 60's (even found a few snowflakes on the ground this morning!). They are not really "fighting" but are bumping each other, squawking and squabbling off and on throughout the day..very quiet at night though. If I go over to the brooder when I hear them carrying on they all just look up at me with this innocent 'look' on their faces..silly things. I'm kind of caught between a rock and a hard spot..don't know what to do to give these girls more room....any ideas?

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  113. We have 2, year old hens and 4, 8 week old chicks. Our coop and run are completely enclosed with the coop raised. The girls free range and go back to run and up ramp to bed on their own at night. The door closes automatically and opens in the morning . They come down and stay in run till we let them out. The chicks are play penned off under the coop section with a temp. Coop of their own. They go in by themselves at night. We eventually will let them out and hopefully they will roost with others. Do we still need to keep them in permanent coop for a week? Problem is, nesting boxes are in there. The girls don't lay the same time everyday so I'm not sure how to block it off? Any suggestions?

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  114. TheChickenChick4/25/14, 10:37 PM

    See if you can find a friend with more room than you have to house them properly until you can put them in the coop.

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  115. Tammy Kessler4/26/14, 9:03 AM

    Thank you so much for the info.. It's been so helpful!! I have a list of questions and it seems you always seem to hit on what I'm really questioning!!

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  116. Kimmie's Country Kitchen4/26/14, 10:11 AM

    Thank you for this VERY helpful information!!!

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  117. Very helpful information on moving chick out to the coop. Thank you!

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  118. Esther widgren4/26/14, 12:01 PM

    Thanks for the article! My "middles" (about 5.5 weeks) are gonna come through the cardboard walls of their brooder box any day now!

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  119. EXACTLY what I've been wondering. Thanks for always reading my mind.

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  120. Nikki Johnston4/26/14, 3:51 PM

    Newbies, take note of just how big they get before they're out of the brooder! My first chicks outgrew their brooder before I could take them outside, so they spent 2 weeks in our master bathtub on puppy pads!

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  121. Rachel Davis4/26/14, 4:05 PM

    Perfect post! My husband was just talking about moving the chicks and I thought it was still too early. I feel like a pro with chicks after reading your articles here, they're so helpful.

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  122. Thank you, excellent info!

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  123. Lynnie Bat-Abba4/26/14, 9:57 PM

    Thank you for the info!!!! I sure do appreciate your blogs. ;-)

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  124. Rebecca Cahill4/26/14, 11:13 PM

    Great tips thanks!!!

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  125. TheChickenChick4/27/14, 3:49 PM

    Thanks Lynnie, I hope they help. :)

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  126. TheChickenChick4/27/14, 4:45 PM

    Happy to help, but it's eggshausting. LOL!

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  127. TheChickenChick4/27/14, 9:41 PM

    If you can keep the little ones in a closed off section of the coop that will prevent them from leaving it while the bigger birds do their thing during the day, that would be ideal. If not, the hope is that the older birds train the little ones to return to the coop at night.

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  128. I did thank you they are happy. now they are trying to fly a little. :)

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  129. I can't tell you how much I appreciate all your great information you share! I have a rooster and 3 hens around a year old and now have 3, 5 week old babies. So far all is well and I follow your guidelines like the best parent book ever! THANK YOU KATHY!

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  130. Lynnie Bat-Abba4/28/14, 10:22 PM

    Oh my YES! I find all the info I need right here.

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  131. I am trying to find out when I can get the girls out of the garage. We've not had the best weather and right now the evenings are going as low as 50 degrees so they have a heat lamp and an enclosed oil heater to help. I have 3 spotted sussex, buff rocks, 2 Ameraucanas and 1 Australorp, they are going on six weeks this coming Friday May 2nd. When can I safely keep the outside 24/7 without the heat lamp. Once it goes outside there is no electricity.

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  132. It appears my question from last night was deleted, thanks....I'll go elsewhere now.....

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  133. I am planning on moving my 6 chicks out to our coop in about 4 weeks. They are about 2 weeks old now. You recommend keeping them only in the coop for quite a while. I do not want to keep them "cooped up" in the coop (although it is large--maybe 24 sq ft.) without access to the run. Can you clarify what you mean by keeping them in the coop? No access to run at all? That feels cruel not to allow them out into the grass and sunshine until they are 5 mos. old. Thx. Love your website.

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  134. My four 11 week old chickens, just moved tonight from a brooder with about 25 other chicks to my backyard coop. What temp should the coop be, they are used to being with a lot of other body heat and now it is just the 4 of them. It's getting down to mid 40s here tonight. Just don't want them to be cold! :) Thanks!

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  135. Chicken Chick first I must say I enjoy your pages they are beautiful as well as informative. Thanks. I am a first time chicken care taker and I am ready to put my chickens outside they are now 5 weeks and I live in Southern Texas so I believe the weather is just right, however my property does receive much gusty wind so I have incorporated my garage and carport as the initial coop staging place hopefully to keep in a little heat as well as shield from the wind..........so if I start like this and then build them something better than my store bought rinky dink coop can I move them again? Will I have to retrain them to the new location...even if it might be the same coop? Thanks again!! :)

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  136. Thanks Reese. You may need to retrain them. Chickens are very wary of change.

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  137. Love, love, love your site! we have 16 chicks that are now 5 weeks old
    and appear to be almost fully feathered. We moved them from a bin
    brooder to a portion of the coop with heat lamp at about 2 1/2 weeks.
    We then gave them access to the whole coop (with the nesting boxes
    closed off). The covered run is now ready and the daytime temps are
    between 55-80 degrees. Can we let them out in the run and if so, how
    long can we have them out and will we have trouble getting them back
    into the coup when it is time?

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  138. Jo Wollenberg5/10/14, 10:06 PM

    I have a 2 year old hen who just started to go broody (did it last year too) and I have 4 new chicks in the garage- almost 2 weeks old now. I don't have a space for a Broody Breaker, because my chicks are in the garage.


    Is it possible that with a few supervised and protected (fenced) introductions, my broody hen may want to raise the chicks? Could keep her in with them and possibly resolve her motherly need? Are the chicks too old for her to accept?


    I've never mixed the chicks and hens, waited until mostly grown before entering the coop.

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  139. Those temps would be fine. I'd confine them to a specific area, however.

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  140. Can 2 week old chicks be allowed to roam in some grass outside if temps are in the mid 80's for a little while each day? They would be supervised so predators would not be a concern. I guess my question would be how long can a chick be away from the brooder for? Thanks in advance and thank you for a great site with must-know advice.

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  141. I would not attempt it. They are too old at this point.

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  142. You'll know when they are unhappy/cold/ready to go back in.

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  143. Hello, I have a chicks that will be hatching any day now!!! I am so excited! It is just their mom and 1 rooster about 9 months old...do I need to separate him from the mom and chicks?

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  144. Hello! I have 4 chicks that are almost 5 weeks old. Our days have been in the upper 80s so I have been letting them outside every day and I'm wondering when they can stay out all night? Lowest temp on the forecast is 52 in the early morning. I have an Eco Glow 20 have electrical access for the coop. Thanks!

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  145. Hello, I have a chicks that will be hatching any day now!!! I am so excited! It is just their mom and 1 rooster about 9 months old...do I need to separate him from the mom and chicks?

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  146. The EcoGlow requires an ambient room temp no lower than 50°.

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  147. thank you for the advice! I couldnt remember the temp specs

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  148. A fox took my broody mother yesterday leaving me with 7 chicks, they are in a coup and went to bed o.k last night but keep calling for their mum. They Re 5 weeks old now and growing so fast. I also hVe 9 grown chickens, who come around to their coup and they get on ok with them. Will the chicks survive without their mum or should I find a saragate mum from my flock?

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  149. I'm sorry to hear it, Val. The chicks do not need a hen anymore. In fact, many broody hens begin to distance themselves from their chicks around 6 weeks.

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  150. Alexandra Danielle French5/20/14, 11:58 AM

    I have four three week old chicks in a separate small coop with a brooder and I'm trying to figure out when I can remove the brooder. I still plan to keep the chicks separate until they are six weeks old, but I NEED to remove the brooder... she is a complete and epic hag and I can barely even get the food and water out to clean and refill without her going psycho b*tch on me and trying to kill me.

    I WANT to handle the chicks and get them acclimated to people so that they don't fear them--or me, especially--but I can't do that while they have the brooder with them.

    Please help!

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  151. Just open the coop and let her take them outside. She is supposed to protect them. Let her do her job.

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  152. If it's upper 80s-lower 90s when you move the chicks out to the coop.. Is it still safe to coop train with no access to the outside fresh air breeze etc? It feels hot to me inside the coop during the day. Even with a window open (I don't have electricity out there. Though I suppose temporarily I could run an extension cord out)

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  153. I might have made a big mistake. My chicks are 3 weeks old. They spent the weekend out in the sun and on the porch at night. It gets to about 55 at night. We had to move them to the coop where there is no electricity. It's too cold isn't it? I just went out there and covered them with a copy paper box with a little door cut into it. There are 6 chicks. Plenty of bedding and an insulated floo

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  154. You will know if they are too cold because they will be cheeping. Three weeks sounds like it would be too soon for those temps.

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  155. Have just a question, off topic but, at about what age will a chicken molt for its first time?

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  156. esperanza valdiviezo5/31/14, 12:47 PM

    Hello I have a 5 week old chicken & was just put outside right now I went to check on him when he was laying & couldn't move what do I do ? We try spraying very little water because we felt him hot. And then he started to react. He is very weak! But he try to stand up and he falls.

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  157. Thanks for the good info. I have a small, mobile coop and I fenced a small run around it inside the large chicken run. I have 3 chicks that are 6 weeks old in the small coop. How would you recommend I move them into the big coop when they are ready to be integrated with my older chickens?

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  158. This is what I suggest, Sara: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/06/integrating-new-flock-members-playpen.html

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  159. Serena Anderson6/1/14, 11:39 AM

    Why should meat birds be separate?

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  160. Thank you for so much great info! I always come here when I have questions. Our first flock is about 2 years old so we brought in the next group of girls. They are 6 weeks old. We've kept them in the garage but I'm beginning to think about integration with the 4 older chickens. One perhaps silly question. After the play pen method, which I'll start shortly, then I move the newer chicks into the coop for some time for them to acclimate and block off the nesting boxes. This is where I'm confused, how are the older girls then going to be able to access the nesting boxes to lay their eggs? And access the coop to sleep at night?

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  161. I was wondering why my chicks wouldn't go back in the coop at night. This is such a big help thanks!

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  162. Kathleen Smith6/8/14, 4:46 PM

    I have two hens who hatched chicks. One hatched two chicks about a week and a half ago; the other hatched four chicks around June 1-2. All are in my garage--each mother with her chicks in separate pens. When can I move a mother and her chicks to a separate pen in the yard?

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  163. Hello, i have one 2 week old chick. ( only one that hatched from the first batch of eggs in the incubator). now i have placed more eggs in the incubator and they should hatch within 3 weeks. the chick that i have now will be 5 weeks old by then and i am wondering how to place the new chicks a couple weeks weeks after they hatch in the coop with this already hatched chick? And introduce them so they the older one does not kill the way younger ones? I want her to have a friend which is why i put another batch of eggs in to see if i can get at lease one more chick.

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  164. Patricia A Johnson6/14/14, 10:43 AM

    I just started out with these babies myself, my husband and I got 34 of them on May 21, that is when they hatched. We lost 3 so far from that day but the rest where doing fine until now. we just lost one on friday the 13, she was going to the bathroom and blood was coming out with her mess. Why is this happening do you know ? Please help me so I can understand I check the every day all day, I clean there food dishes and water every day all day. They are getting big and I don't want to lose any more. It seems to be the new ones that are sick, because the ones we got on May 21 are fine we lost only one, we picked up more 2 weeks age and they are the same size as the ones we got in may. We got them all from the same farmer, my mother in law got 43 of them and with the new ones she just got like we did, one of them too is bleeding when they got to the bathroom as well. I need to do some thing before I lose them all. My e-mail is Trshkb@aol.com, Thank you.

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  165. chickensRus3236/19/14, 2:02 AM

    I have a question .. recently my son found 4 bby chicks by looking at ur page I figured that theyre about 2 weeks .. ive lost 1chick was acting lazy and just had no movement w its mouth open panting ..?? Id like to know why it did that .. and if I can use a heater instead of a heat lamp. And what can they eat at 2 weeks ?
    Pliz help♡

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  166. My coop is up and my girls are sooooooo ready to get out there. Although I understand the concept of coop training I worry that it will be too hot for them shut up in the coop with only a couple vents open up top. It is suppose to be in the 89-94 degree range the next week. I will be putting a thermometer in the coop that will send me readings to the house monitor but I still worry. That seems to be the theme the last 5 weeks.....worry. I worried less with my four human babies!

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  167. I have a repeat question. I'm new to chickens and have 2 flocks. 16wk ee's (1 roo) and 6 wk australorps (1 8wk roo) they have seen each other from day 1 and have a sperate run inside the larger run. So, my question is can I try to intergrate them yet? The australorps are getting a little big for the run area. Can I try to distract with treats or would that cause more fighting? Thank you for any advice.

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  168. I would wait until they are bigger.

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  169. Rob Costello6/27/14, 1:52 PM

    I've got 4 pullets, about three and a half weeks old. Two RIR, one Aracauna, and a Barred Rock. Right now they're in a storage bin, probably 4.5ft long and 2ft wide. The chickens are starting to get quite big and will jump out when we remove the cover for cleaning. Is this too small of a brooder for them? We are almost done with their coop and would like to get them outside as soon as we are done.

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  170. Hi. I am planning on getting 2 chicks this week. I live in Las Vegas and temps have been averaging 110 during the day. I am wondering if I still need a heat lamp in the brooder(which will be in the garage). I am planning on keeping a thermometer in the brooder even without the heat lamp to check the temperature and make sure it will be warm enough for the chicks. Does that sound like a good idea? Also, I want to "coop train" them when ready but it will probably be over 110 degrees by then. Do you have any suggestions on how I can still train them to go to coop at dusk? Thank you.

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  171. I have two thousand native(local) pullets, they will be crossed with the exotic breed in two months, we plan to produce about 10,000 chicks after 4 and a half weeks of introduction of the Cockerels. We will like our chicks to stay in the brooder for 8 weeks before they go on the pasture for another two months before they are sold off....can you recommend the size of the brooder to be built?

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  172. I have a first time momma hen. She hatched 7 chicks and left nest. Of the 5 eggs she left, One was hatching so I put it in incubator and 4 hours later it hatched. Will put it under her at dark today. I have 9 day old chicks that are in a brooder. Can I put some of them under her tonight as well?

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  173. Good Morning... I had 3 - 20 week old chicks (RIR, Red Sex link and a Sicilian buttercup) Well the buttercup was grabbed off the fence this morning by the neighbors evil dog... I would like to get another chick, but not sure how the other 2 - 20 week old ones would react. Any suggestions? Just very sad today :-( She was our favorite!

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  174. My 3 chicks are 5 weeks and I put them outside for the entire night today at 55 F. Was that too cold for them? I felt terrible when I checked up on them and they were all cuddled up. Is that normal? :o

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