HEATING THEM. This is big topic around here. Do you need to be careful and diligent if using a heat lamp? Abso-friggen-lutely. Use common sense. Attach it well, dont hang it by the cord, attach it to a stable surface only, . Can you use the heating pad cave technique instead? Sure! I used a heat lamp. Just what I chose. They arent going to suffer psychologically either way. My opinion on HOW MUCH heat is needed that after that first week?..the traditional "formula" for lowering by 5 degrees..is a bit much. Read their behavior from day one and this will tell you exactly what they need. Even as a first time chick parent YOU WILL SEE AND RECOGNIZE IT. I promise you that. In doing so i realized that my flock of ONLY 4 CHICKS wanted to be warm at 90 that first week, were down to 80 by beginning of second week, and by almost 3 weeks old want to be at room temp. I found they regulated more or less by how closely they chose to sleep and where. All that stress over which technique was best, and they only needed it for 3 weeks. Im sure all chicks are different...but please..ditch the formula. Its a great guideline but i hear far too many who INSIST their 3 week olds HAVE to be at 85. Truth is..if you live in a climate of cold winters, and dont feel like brooding for 7 whole weeks, you want these birds to be hardy and ready with the abilty to self regulate and find warmth when needed.
Another HUGE TOPIC around here...where to brood. Again...no hard fast rule. It depends what you want. For me..despite the egg bonus...these chickens are pets. We've never done this before. We wanted to be near them and enjoy all the little daily changes...and my goodness there were many!!! If I brooded them outdoors in the coop I wouldnt have witnessed them all, the weathers been chilly and theres no way we would have sat out there enough. I know which day each of them began trusting their wings, when the pecking order began, who is the bravest, the cuddliest, etc. They have some personality! They are RIDICULOUSLY tame now, we sit by them and handle them, talk to them, they perch on us (whether we are in the mood or not lol), hop up to our shoulders, nap in our hands, its been wonderful. We can approach them from any direction and pick them up in any gentle way and there is no stress reaction at all. The brooder tote is (gasp) in our KITCHEN. The dust level with our 4 buff orp 3-week olds? Non exsitent. Perhaps its the small number. Who knows. The smell? Non existent. I do keep them clean. I throw fresh shavings over old and replace all every few days. I keep an immaculate house...so for me to feel ok with them in my kitchen, trust me... it would have to be clean. But with 4 I will say that at 3 weeks old I find NO dust on brooder walls, adjacent areas in room...nothing. I'm sure this varies.
We've loved having them around us. Now would I keep them here much beyond next week? Nope. Why? Just no need. Coop is just about ready. They are now sufficiency tame, feathers are growing fast, we've bonded with them, they are out growing the box (spend most days with the cover off perched on the edges of the box when I am around), and as long as I can provide supplemental heat in my coop to keep an area comfy in our early spring new england weather. ..they are ready. But as far having to brood them indoors...or having to brood them outdoors...there IS no rule. None. Whatever suits YOU based on what you want.
Im gonna miss them though and I forsee myself and my 2 young children spending alot time out in the run with our babies:) Thankfully we are heading in for some nice mild spring days...brooding them indoors has been a TRUE joy.....an amazing learning exerience for my kids... and a wonderful chance to witness first hand and up close the unbelievable growth and progress of these 4 little bitties for my family:)
Edited by mrv19 - 3/25/16 at 5:12am