My daughters plugged in a tv, a heater and three different game consoles into the SAME outlet which powers the chicken's heat lamps. At seventeen days (give or take a day) they are outside in a greenhouse with a variety of "heat zones" ranging from "cook a nugget" to "warm up for dinner" all the way down to "you could hang a ham in here and it would be fine for days." Most of the time they seem to find where they are comfortable just fine.
Last night it was 38 degrees and I came home to find the breaker tripped, light off. You could see your breath in the green house and I was certain the first thing I'd find with the light and heat restored was a pile of twickens dead.
The buff orp and white rock chicks had in fact roosted, fluffed out the straggly feathers that seem to sprout from everywhere these days and gone to sleep. Everyone else was laying in a pig pile and were more upset that the light was on. I watched them for a while, then started picking them, up, and you know what? They're pretty warm little creatures It appears that the mashup of feathers and fuzz they have going on works better than one would expect against the cold.
According to the chicken book, at 2.5 weeks and decreasing the heat by five degrees each week, these guys should be happy at 82.5 degrees. So I ran a little test. I put a shielded thermometer control in the brooder and let it run the light and checked temperatures. The 80 degree zones might as well be labeled "This way to the nugget factory" as far as the chicks are concerned. They avoid them like crazy. The average temperature at the place where they sprawl out and crash is about 66 degrees for the small ones down to 50 degrees for the buff orps (who really don't have that many more feathers at the same stage, but they are considerably larger). It's pretty cold at the longest end of the brooder, but that doesn't stop chicks from foraging out into that area and then warming up in the slightly warmer zones.
I re-read the chicken book. I read the chicken book to the chicks, and explained about how really they needed to be under the heat lamps getting crispy-fied.
It appears that no one bothered explaining the chicken book to my chickens.
These are the http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/629040/chuggly "twickens" I wrote about. Not exactly itty bitties but just saying, maybe they know what temps work better than we do. I've certainly found that true with my honeybees (that they know more about being bees than I do as a beekeeper) but first time I've seen the chickens illustrate it.
Today they are running around like crazy (like normal) and every bit as ugly as before, so I guess a little fridge time didn't hurt too bad. Not that I'm ready to kill the light entirely yet, but it seems that they are more temperature resistant than one might think.