In our area we have long, cold winters. I didn't set out to have winter chicks since I knew there would be challenges. When an opportunity presented itself to buy a couple Welsummer chicks, a breed I've wanted for awhile, I decided to give it a try. These chicks were hatched January 22nd. When we purchased them they were already almost a month old. Now they're just about two months old. The chicks we chose were 4 Welsummers, 1 Barred Rock and 1 Australorp.
The first challenge came when we got them home. These chicks were big and they were bored. They'd lived in the farm store brooder for far too long, possibly because many don't think about buying "spring" chicks in January or February. They'd been feather pecking each other out of boredom and all of them had bare backs! That was quickly fixed by giving them treats, a play cage with things to do such as perches and shiny things to explore and making sure they had high protein treats so they could re-grow those feathers.
The second challenge was...they were already big! Chicks grow fast, they were almost too big for the brooder I'd set up so I quickly changed to a larger brooder cage.
Third challenge...winter weather! By four weeks old in summer (By a few days old in fact) I would have chicks outdoors daily getting natural sun, grit from the dirt, grass and bugs. Thankfully we had a warm stretch around their 5th week and I got them outdoors and even on bare ground for awhile but then we had three big snowstorms in a row and the ground was long buried. To get some greens and fresh foods into them with snow on the ground I gave them some chopped up leafy green vegetables, with some chick sized grit for digestion.
Fourth challenge, they're coop ready by 6 weeks but it's so cold out. To combat this challenge I gave them some time in the coop each day then returned them to their indoor brooder at night. After the first few days of this and seeing that they didn't seem cold I moved them out to the coop, in a large dog kennel cage and moved their brooder heat plate with them just in case. They didn't need the heat though and chose to sleep perched on sticks in their cage. Chicks are hardier than we sometimes give them credit for, once they're fully feathered they can live in a safe, insulated, ventilated coop even in cold climate winters.
For the last week the chicks have been exploring the coop with the flock, the flock has accepted them and all is going well. they still sleep in their own cage within the coop at night, until they're a bit bigger. It was a little harder to raise winter chicks but the rewards will be eggs by summer! Can't wait to see those terra cotta and speckled Welsummer eggs!
Photos- big chicks exploring the coop. they love getting on the highest roost bars.