Chicks huddling together

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Big_Charlie, Apr 4, 2008.

  1. Big_Charlie

    Big_Charlie Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 27, 2008
    Fulton, KY
    Do chicks normally huddle together in a big ball under the heat lamp, or is this an indication that it's too cold in the brooder? Mine were running around all over the place for a while and now they're all huddled together under the lamps. I can't get a good read on the temp under the lamps because they're all standing right on top of the thermometer, so it's not getting an accurate read. When I put the chicks in this morning, the temp was spot on 95degF, but the outside temp has been dropping slowly all day. I obviously don't want them to be cold, but I also don't want to roast the little suckers by lowering the lamps. The lamps are currently as low as I can reasonably put them, and during testing, this level resulted in almost 110deg, but those were warmer days. Any lower and you're looking at 130deg+. Help!

    Big Charlie
     
  2. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Huddling under the lamp is telling you they are cold. Lower it a bit. When they get too warm they will move to the edges and beyond to cool down. If they get chilled they will have a greater chance of getting sick. Many young chicks do not recover from getting cold. They are more fragile than people realize.
     
  3. twigg

    twigg Cooped up

    Mar 2, 2008
    Tulsa
    Quote:Raise the chicks if you can't lower the lamps, or add a lamp.

    They are too cold. They will, when comfortable, evenly distribute themselves around the brooder. If they flock to the extremities, they are too warm.

    ps .... an easy way to raise the chicks is simply to give them deeper bedding.
     
  4. Leslie In North Pole

    Leslie In North Pole Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 7, 2007
    North Pole, AK
    An easy way to tell if your chicks are warm enough is to watch them. If they are balling up real tight, they are too cold, if they are all purposely laying outside of the area of direct heat, they are too hot.

    You know it is just right when they just pass out all over the place, with no thought to comfort. I see that your brooder is outside, it may have some drafts blowing through it. You may want to wrap the outside with an old blanket or fasten cardboard to it to help regulate the temps more. Definetely make sure the bedding is deep enough as well, so that it will hold and reflect heat back towards the babies.
     
  5. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Overrun With Chickens

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    Oberlin, OH
    What do you have them in? Is it tall enough to cover the top with something to help keep in heat? My chicks were in my basement until I moved them to the garage. The air temp is not the same as my basement, so my chicks started to act cold even with the light at the same height as it was in the basement. I use a window sceen over my box and I placed a piece of plastic to cover half of the screen and it helped a lot to keep in some heat so now they are not all huddling up together. I hope this helps.
     
  6. Big_Charlie

    Big_Charlie Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 27, 2008
    Fulton, KY
    I've thrown a tarp over the top of the brooder to try and hold in some more heat and lowered the lamps as low as they'll go. That seems to have done the trick as they are spread out much more and the thermometer is now reading between 95 and 100 without a pile of chicks sitting on top. There are still a few chicks huddling together here and there, which I assume is normal, but not the big football huddle I saw before posting the original message. I may need to go get one more lamp to put on at night, depending on how soon we start warming back up around here.

    They're currently on top of a 2" or so deep bed of pine shavings. Is that enough, or should I add more for extra insulation? Lord knows I have plenty in that 3cu. ft. tightly packed shavings bale that I bought. I'm going to need to change out the paper towel tonight anyway.

    Thanks for the advice!

    Big Charlie
     
  7. twigg

    twigg Cooped up

    Mar 2, 2008
    Tulsa
    Quote:2" is more than enough .... I only suggested more in the event you needed to raise them up for warmth from the lamps.

    Sounds like you are on top of it .... so to speak [​IMG]
     
  8. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    To me 2" is skimpy. My chicks are on 6 -8 inches of bedding. We are still getting into the low 30's at night here. It is the only way I feel they can snuggle down into the bedding with still plenty underneath to keep warm at night.
     
  9. twigg

    twigg Cooped up

    Mar 2, 2008
    Tulsa
    Quote:lol .... well there you have it .....

    I want breakfast at Miss P's ... coz when I have had enough, she will feed me pancakes [​IMG]
     
  10. Big_Charlie

    Big_Charlie Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 27, 2008
    Fulton, KY
    So I think my $3 Wal-Mart thermometer must be calibrated wrong. Either that or my chicks are calibrated wrong. The thermometer now reads almost 110degF, but the chicks are happy as pigs in slop sleeping under the lamps, not crowding anymore. I went ahead and tacked up some cardboard over my ventilation in the side because they were indicating some draftiness, and the entire top is covered with a tarp and some cardboard to hold in the heat. It's dropping into the low 40's tonight, so they can certainly use the insulation. I guess as long as they're not cold anymore, and they're not showing signs of overheating, the fuzzybutts know best when and where they are comfortable. [​IMG] I'm sure I'll have to adjust things constantly over the next few days as the days will be getting into the low 70's and the nights will only be dropping into the 50's. Next time I raise chicks, I'll figure out some cool way to automate the temperature control so that I don't go pulling my hair out worrying about the little snots. [​IMG]
     

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