Another newbie with a few questions

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by terrapinfarm, Apr 15, 2007.

  1. terrapinfarm

    terrapinfarm Hatching

    Apr 15, 2007
    Person County NC
    This looks like a great website. I've read some of the guides and message board postings. I look forward to participating here as I advance in my new hobby of keeping chickens.

    On Tuesday after work I will pick up 12 RI Red chicks from a local farm supply store. I've borrowed a heat lamp (250 watt) and plan to buy a feeder tray, waterer, bedding material, and feed when I pick up the chicks.

    I've got a few questions that I could not find answers to....

    I plan to keep the chicks on an enclosed (but not heated) porch. I've found a cardboard box to keep them in. It measures 23 inches by 33 inches by 28 inches tall. Will this be enough space? I plan to put a thermometer on the floor of the box and raise/lower the lamp to get the temp right. Should the lamp hang over the middle or at one end to give more room to get further away from it?

    Should I only put newspaper on the floor until I am sure they are eating and then introduce bedding (wood shavings) or can I start using the wood shavings right away?

    One friend said that I should turn the heat lamp off at night and close the box up. Everything else I've heard/read says that the heat lamp should stay on 24/7. I am planning on leaving it on 24/7, and assume that at this stage they don't need a light/darkness cycle.

    At what age will they be able to get out of the box? I assume that at that point I will lay a piece of chicken wire or hardware cloth over the top of the box.

    Thanks for any advice - I'm excited about this new hobby.

    ~Gary in Person Co. NC
  2. Saltiena

    Saltiena Songster

    Mar 30, 2007
    Peach Bottom
    1. it (the box) should be enogh space, but that is the least, and you may need somthing bigger when they start to grow at about 3- 4 weeks

    2.You may want to pick the supplies up BEFORE the chicks so you can make sure the lamp works, the stuff is in stock etc

    3.DO NOT TURN OFF THE LAMP at least not for the first few weeks

    4.DO NOT USE NEWSPAPER it will allow them to slip and cause dammage, use papper towels

    5.i put my lamp to one side so they have options

    6. many people choose to do what your doing and move the lamp, personaly i find it easier to buy a table top lamp dimmer from a hard ware store, just flick the switch anit gets lighter, darker [​IMG]

    7.Yes you only need to use newspaper for the first few days, to first week

    8.You can move the chicks from the box when the temperatue reaches 70/room tempurature, usually between 4&5 weeks

    9.Feel free to not only post on this site, but via email me, i am awiating my first chicks for the 4th of june good luck
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2007
  3. robin416

    robin416 Songster

    Feb 6, 2007
    A cardboard box with chicks in it on an unsecured porch is not a good idea. Even if it is screened a racoon can come through it without any trouble. Most of the posting you read about folks brooding chicks have the brooders in their houses. For me its here in my computer room for others its in the bedrooms or a closet or a seldom used bathroom.

    Paper towels over shavings for the time being until they get a bit stronger, newspaper is too slick for those new baby legs to walk on without injury.

    Your biggerst concern is placement of the light so you do not catch the box on fire but can still maintain an area that is 95 degrees for the chicks. They will need to move away from it if they get too warm and be able to move back if they are chilled.

    Your friend is incorrect about turning the light off, the peeps need heat for the next several weeks until they are least fully feathered.

    The box sounds much too small for that heat source. Your chicks will probably out grow the box very quickly.

    I have my chicks in a similar size cage but I am using an 85 Watt red spot light here in the house which is more than adequate to keep them warm. At the moment it has 8 Silkie chicks and is becoming a bit confining. Time for our weather to straighten up so I can get them out to my coop.
  4. BeckyLa

    BeckyLa Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    N. Louisiana
    Welcome to BYC!!

    It sounds to me like your box will be big enough to start with though you may have to get a bigger one in a couple of weeks. The heat lamp sounds good but, yes, keep it at one end so they can get away if they get too hot. Here's where you keep an eye on their behaviour. If they pile on top of each other like they're trying to keep warm you'll need to lower the light, though I do have concerns about a 250 watt bulb and the cardboard box. If they are staying far away from the light and panting you'll need to cool them off probably by raising the light. If you have trouble keeping them warm enough especially at night, since they're on an unheated porch, you can cover half of the box with aluminium foil with the reflective side down. Works good for me. I think it's the extreme differences in temp between afternoon and night/wee hours of the morning that will give you the most problems. But, yes, they need the heat 24/7. Most folks put down shavings and then a layer of paper towels over it scattering some chick feed on the paper towels for the first few days until the chicks learn what is food. Then you can remove the towels and just leave them on the pine shavings. Newspapers are not a good idea because they are not absorbant and because they can be slippery which can cause a young chick to develop leg problems. As far as getting out of the box, just keep an eye on them. Once they start trying their wings you might want a peice of chicken wire over the top. Welcome to the addiction!!
  5. terrapinfarm

    terrapinfarm Hatching

    Apr 15, 2007
    Person County NC
    Thanks for the replies!

    My porch is secure against anything getting in to bother the chicks. It has a row of storm windows facing south and a slate floor so warms up well during the day and does not get too cold at night. Still, I will consider keeping them in the house instead (where they would have to segregated from the resident cat).

    I already have the heat lamp and have tested it, and am sure that store will have my needed supplies in stock. If not there is another one nearby.

    I have developed some concern that the bulb, at 250 watts, is too much. I may go ahead and spring for a lower wattage one. Then I can use whichever works best.

    I'll use paper towels on the floor to start.

    I may also see if I can find a larger box or "McGyver" another type of enclosure.

    I had guessed that my friend was wrong about turning off the light and y'all have confirmed that.

    Thanks for the advice and making a newbie feel welcomed!
  6. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    Feb 28, 2007
    South Eastern Indiana
    You can always get a few boxes, and cut them at the seams, and tape them back together, makeing a larger box.

    I was very lucky. Where my DH works, they get large machines shipped in, and we can have the pine crates. I currently have 4 large crates...about 4 x 4...and maybe 3 1/2 ft high. They work great.
    I have a Muscovy hen in one outside on a for newbie chicks...and 2 that are holding scrap wood. He iwll be getting more for the baby goats we want to get this summer. WOOHOO!
  7. robin416

    robin416 Songster

    Feb 6, 2007
    Some have gone down to places where they sell appliances and used boxes from frigdes & stoves. If you could get one for a fridge you wouldn't have to worry about them out growing it by next week.

    The porch sounds great since its enclosed like that. It even sounds like a wonderful place to go out with your coffee and just watch the dynamics with the chicks.

    I've read a lot of horror stories about young birds on porches in cages that did not turn out well at all. That's why the first thought was about the security.

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