Baby temperatures... is the common knowledge accurate?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by my sunwolf, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    So I've had people say that day-old chicks need a constant 95˚F for the first few days in order to stay healthy and warm, as well as active enough to be eating and drinking.

    I have a batch of 25 three-day-olds who spent the night in the shed. They have two 250W heat lamps maybe 1.75-2ft above them. It got down to 27˚F last night, 34˚F in the shed, and 75˚F under the lamps. So far, the babies are doing what they usually do... faceplants into the shavings, lined up next to each other, conked out. A few will decide they're hungry or thirsty and go to grab food or water, wander around the brooder pecking at things, and then go sleep again. No excess huddling.

    What gives? Are my thermometers off or are these babies okay at 75˚F?

    I'm waiting to see if their health declines because of the cold. There are no drafts where they are. I had 2 sickly chicks yesterday when they first arrived in the mail that I nursed in 90˚F temperatures until they could walk around, then stuck them back with the others. Everyone so far is doing okay. During the day, the temp under the heat lamp gets to 95˚F.

    They slowed down at night more than I'm used to chicks doing, but if they were with a broody mamma wouldn't they do the same thing?

    Just interested in people's thoughts about "correct" temperatures for brooding chicks.
     
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Guidelines are just that. Guidelines.

    In the real world, chicks determine their own sense of comfort by moving toward the heat source, or away from it. Both areas are important. The chick both needs a spot to warm up (mimicking coming under a broody hen's feathers) and cooler spots to exercise in.

    The only problem with going too low a temperature in the hot zone is this. Chicks can and will pile up on each other if they get altogether too cold. This can create a smothering risk that is real. As long as the temperature of the warm up spot is adequate to keep them from piling on, you're fine. If they pile? The warm spot isn't warm enough. If they avoid the warm spot altogether? It is too hot for their comfort. It's really that simple. The precise temperature isn't all that complicated and people over think things.

    Remember though, with no guidelines to go by, people don't know where to start when they are new to the whole thing.
     
  3. maidenwolfx80

    maidenwolfx80 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is never set in stone in my opinion. Just like every indivdual bird has a different personality. As long as the chicks are not huddled under the light in a tight ball they are fine. I always watch how they react and dont even use a thermomator. If they are spread out some eating and some drinking and some sleeping they are fine. They will chirp a loud sharp cry when they are not right and chirp a lovely little sound when all is well. I would check on them at night when the temp gets the lowest that is when you run the risk of them smothering each other to death. They will suffocate one another tryint to get warm. Dont forget to check for drafts and if they need more heat at night try putting something ontop of what ever they are living in to keep more heat in.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    First there is a difference in guidelines and laws of nature. Guidelines are suggestions to go by for people that don't have experience. Laws of nature determine what really happens.

    We all keep chickens in different circumstances. Those guidelines are intended to keep everybody out of trouble no matter what circumstances they keep their chicks in. How well the brooder is ventilated, how good a draft guard you have, do they have warm bedding to snuggle in, even how many there are to keep each other warm makes a big difference.

    If they were with a broody Mama they could go to an area that is at 100 degrees. They can come and go as they wish. I don't know if that 75 degrees will hurt them or not. Personally I'd get it a bit warmer for the first few days as long as they have room to get away from the heat if they want to.

    I keep one area in my brooder warm. I don't even use a thermometer anymore. I let the chicks behavior tell me if that is warm enough or not and I adjust by raising or lowering. I let the rest of the brooder cool off as it will. That brooder is in the coop and sometimes the far reaches get pretty cool or what we would consider cold. Many people would be surprised at how much time the chicks spend in those cooler areas, just going back to the heat to warm up as necessary.

    One advantage to keeping only one area warm (even if it is too warm) and letting the rest of the brooder cool off quite a bit is that they will find where they are comfortable. Plus I’d go bonkers trying to keep the entire brooder one constant perfect temperature. All I have to do is to keep one area warm enough and let them do the work.

    I do think they feather out faster and grow up healthier if they are allowed to play in various temperatures. Last fall I put mine in the unheated grow-out coop when they were five weeks old and the overnight lows were in the mid 40’s Fahrenheit. A few days later the overnight low hit the mid-20’s. That grow-out coop had really good draft protection and there were about 20 of them to keep each other warm. They were fine. But they had been acclimated in the brooder.

    More to your situation. Last summer during our heat wave I turned the daytime heat off at 2 days. They were lined up as far as they could get from that heat source. There were 17 in this batch. I turned the nighttime heat off at 5 days. Days, not weeks. I don’t know how cool it got in that brooder overnight, but the air temperature outside was in the upper 70’s. I suspect the lowest temperature they saw was the lower 80’s but I did not measure it. I let them tell me how they were and they were fine.

    If they are cold, you will hear a plaintive distress peep. Once you hear it, you can easily recognize the difference between it and their normal chirping.

    So my thoughts on the recommended guidelines as far as temperatures go is that they are overkill for the majority of us but will keep people that do a lousy job in setting up a brooder out of trouble most of the time. Chicks don’t need those temperatures nearly as much as they need some protection from some people. I think that is true of most of the guidelines you see on here.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I agree, a hen doesn't keep the ambient air temp at 90. A brooder that is a constant temp gives the chicks no place to escape the heat.

    I just posted a long message on this if anyone wants to read it.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/729137/how-old-to-stay-outside#post_10073052
     
  6. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Love the responses!!

    Just went out to check on them again and found the problem with 75˚F: have quite a few that started to paste up this morning. Had to do warm butt soaking and pulling poop for about 8 of the birds. I assume it's the chilly temp and not the stress from yesterdays travel. One of the sickly ones pasted up pretty bad and is even worse off, it's smaller than the others. I don't think it's very strong and I'm really not sure if it's going to make it. I've got it separated and under more heat. The others are up and at em, racing around like crazy chicks.

    Ridgerunner, I'm not actually sure that I would be able to distinguish the stress peep! I know that sometimes the whole brooder will go quiet and then a few will start a very loud insistent call.

    My last batch was too hot and I didn't realize it... it was 75 outside and must have been really hot under the heat lamp, and they were 2-3 weeks old (mixed ages). For a few days they were feather picking so bad. Finally got the hint when even the young ones were plastered to side of the brooder that was furthest from the lamp [​IMG] Sometimes I can be stupid. Turned the light off and moved the oldest ones to the pasture coop and they were very happy.

    Guess maybe I went too far the other way on the heat issue... will try to lower the lamps for tonight (though I can't lower them much or I'll torch the chickies!).

    Do you think putting a thick blanket even on the cool end of the brooder would help the heat situation? Can't put it too close to the heat lamps, but could cover the cooler half.
     
  7. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hmm, and just read something that says too much sugar water can give them pasty butt!! Wish I had known that sooner...

    Would any of you say that it is the sugar water (left with them for a few hours, then switched to fresh), the stress of travel, or the cold that led to a good number of chicks pasting up? All three?

    Does brooding chicks get any easier or intuitive? Yeesh
     
  8. maidenwolfx80

    maidenwolfx80 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would say it is more the travel and stress causing the pasting up. Dont worry , no one is perfect, we all learn as we go. Even the most experienced chicken people learn things every time they do it. It will get easier, experience is the best teacher.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Yes it gets easier if you pay attention. Sounds like you will.

    I don't know what causes pasty butt and I don't really trust anything I read on the internet about the cause. You get so many different theories and usually these are backed by opinion. My guess is that it could be caused by many dfferent things. I've never had a problen with chicks I've hatched myself but i have seen it in a very few shipped chicks, which leads me to believe it might have something to do with shipping. Mayve dehydration?

    But that may be an unfair comparison. I had it with my very first batch of shipped chicks, then I changed the way I raised them. Now I give my chicks sandy dirt from the run that contains fairly fresh poop from the older birds. This gets any probiotics the older ones have into their system. It introduces any diseases or parasites the older ones might have so they can start to work on their immunities. They are going to face those anyway when they hit the ground and they can usually buiild up immuties easer when they are very young. And it introduces grit into their system. I know they don't NEED grit if all they eat is chick feed, but I like to introduce it early. I don't know if this had anything to do with it or not, but later shipped chicks did not have a problem with pasty butt.

    This is what I mean by opinion. I sure can't prove that this works. It's just something that I do that might help and in my opinion does not hurt.

    What you might consider is a hover. Basically hang a shallow inverted box over them with just enough room for them to get under the edges. The idea is warm air rises. Their body heat warms it up under there. You can provide a little heat if you wish but be careful not to get it too hot. I haven't used one but you can probably do a search and get some details.
     

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