Chicks panting but not too hot? Are they ok?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Sarahal88, Mar 4, 2015.

  1. Sarahal88

    Sarahal88 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chicks are in a 3 x 5 brooder box with a 250 watt bulb about 20 inches away from them. They areall resting in a little circle around the hottest part of the light, and several are panting as if too hot. But if they are hot, wouldn't they move away from the light? THere is plenty of space and the room temp is cool. I moved it back a little and they are still panting.

    They are in my mudroom with my washer and dryer and I just started washing and drying some clothes for the first time ince they have been there. My washer dryer are old and very loud. Could this be causing them to pant out of stress WIll they be ok?

    I do have electrolytes in the water and they have a 1 quarter waterer AND a 1 gallon waterer. both clean.

    Thanks.
     
  2. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Overrun With Chickens

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    How old are the chicks? What is the temp in the brooder?

    Mine are about a week old. My brooder is also 3x5 but my light is a 125w I think. I know for sure it is not the 250w and my brooder under the light is 95 with the light at almost 30 inches up.

    I have mine a bit warm for week olds but yes there is room to get out of the heat and mine are running around like mad.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    The best way to tell if your chicks are feeling comfortable is by their behavior. If they are active, running around, falling asleep any old place they happen to be when the urge overtakes them - both under the lamp as well as on the outskirts, then they are good.

    If they are mostly inactive and panting at the same time, something is wrong.

    I think 20 inches @ 250 watts is much too low. If the room is very warm, try a 100 watt ordinary light bulb. You may be roasting them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2015
  4. Sarahal88

    Sarahal88 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the tips. I have a thermometer under there and it usually reads between 90-100 - they are 1 to 2 weeks old so I know I should start decreasing temp. I think the reason it is so low is because the room I keep them in is not heated, so the temp in the room is often 20-30 degrees. In order to get the temp under the bulb to 95ish, I have found I have to keep it about 20 inches away. I tried with a 150 watt bulb but they seemed to get cold.

    THe panting I have only noticed when the washer is running. Many other times they seem happy under the light and run around.

    However, maybe I will try to swtih to the 150 watt bulb and see how they do, since they are getting older. Thanks!
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    On all of the "heat guidelines" for chicks, it should be mandatory that the statement, "A thermometer is no substitute for observing your chicks!".

    First of all, thermometers can give inaccurate readings. Second, all chicks differ in their heat needs. Some can't tolerate it above 85 even at a few days old. Others need it quite warm even into the second week.

    Ditch the thermometer and just watch the chicks! The thermometer is only useful when hanging the lamp before you install the chicks and calibrating the height. After that, you should gauge how low the lamp should be and the wattage of the bulb by the level of activity in the brooder. Chicks that are too hot or too cold won't be tearing around all over the brooder, but lying under the lamp in a pile trying to keep warm or cringing on the outer edges panting and prostrate with overheating.

    Overheating can cause more problems than underheating, so it's always wise to err on the side of having the heat lamp too high.
     
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  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Can you tell us about your brooder? Plastic or cardboard? How many chicks are in it? Is there any way drafts can circulate in the brooder, causing the temperature to fluctuate? It might help to insulate the bottom of the brooder to keep it from absorbing heat from the surface it's resting on and insulate the sides to keep the heat in.

    If the room fluctuates widely in temperature, it can cause problems in the chicks' ability to adjust to it. Just like us humans, we can be acclimated to it being cool and if it suddenly gets very warm, it requires adjustment and we're uncomfortable while we try to adjust.

    For baby chicks, they have very few feathers to regulate their body heat, so temperature fluctuations can be problematic. If the room gets down to below freezing, that's some awfully wild temperature ranges for chicks. I would try to heat the mudroom to keep it at a more moderate range of temperature. Rather than overheating, I think maybe the problem is really too wide a range of temperature fluctuation.
     
  7. Sarahal88

    Sarahal88 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The brooder is cardboard with 18 inch sides 3x 5, 22 chicks, a plastic sheet in the bottom and the covered with pine shavings. I think you are probably right about the temperature fluctuations. That has been a concern of mine all along with having them out there. However, I don't think it is particularly drafty. On cold nights, I have heated the mudroom with a space heater to keep it from dropping too low, but can still see how it may be hard on them. I am going to back their light up a little and try to get the room temperature up. But they look like they are doing fine today.


    Last night the power went out and I had to catch them all and bring them inside by the fire. It was off for a few hours. It's a miracle they are doing ok. That has been my nightmare all along, but glad we survived.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2015
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    In another two weeks, 22 chicks will need double the area they now have, I'm sure you're already aware.

    Do you have a coop ready built to move them into? You could move them outdoors with a bit of heat during the night when they're four weeks if they looked feathered out. Then you're present brooder will probably suffice.

    There are enough chicks that they can generate enough heat to keep warm if the temperature drops a little. If you can employ a space heater to keep the mudroom around 50, then a 150 watt light should be adequate to do the rest of the work. Set it at a height where you see the most activity. Keep in mind that if it's too hot under the light, there may not be enough room in the cooler edges to accommodate 22 chicks trying to cool down, so keep it a bit higher to achieve no higher than 85 F directly under it. If the chicks are in a persistent pile under the light at that temp, lower it just a bit until they disperse. If they're in their second week, that should be plenty warm. Some of us feel the guide lines start much too high, especially with as many chicks as you have.
     
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  9. Sarahal88

    Sarahal88 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, I can tell this space won't last too much longer. 7 of them will be going to a friend in another 2 weeks. The rest will go into their coop/run which will be finshed this week.

    If I move the coop outside at that point, let's say when they are 5-6 weeks, Would I put the heat bulb inside the coop or in the run? RIght now the semi-moveable coop is in the workshop, so I have the option of leaving it in there as well. Not sure how DH would deal with workshop full of chickens.
     
  10. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    DH can deal with the chicks in his space a few more weeks until we get past these severe winter storms. Where are you located? What are the days like right now when you're between storm fronts?

    I highly recommend chicks age two weeks and older begin spending time outside in their run on calm, sunny days when the temp is in the 70s. This alleviates stress caused by brooder crowding and it helps wean chicks off heat. You begin slowly by taking them out at the warmest time of day when it's calm. Leave the carrier in a safe area and let the chicks come out on their own. They will also return when they feel chilled. This signals you need to take them back inside to the brooder.

    Increase outdoor time each day. It's quite possible the chicks can move into the coop with an outdoor run at 4 weeks, just requiring heat at night by that time. BY heat weaning, beginning now, you encourage feather development and you're able to get them moved outside earlier than if you keep them in a heated brooder 24/7.
     

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