Chicks too hot or too cold??

Jake H

In the Brooder
Jan 23, 2018
Baltimore County, MD
I got 5 baby chicks in the mail yesterday (first time chicken raiser) and have been trouble getting the temp of the brooder right. The chicks keep huddling up in a ball, but on the outside edge of the brooder not close to the heat lamp. Originally when I brought them home I had the heat lamp lower to the ground but over time they started to slow down and get lethargic. I moved it up higher and they started moving around again but then plopped back down into a ball together.

I have a pic here, can anyone tell if they think they're too hot or too cold?


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I would say too hot. Since they are on the fringe of the heat.

Raise light some more and see if the move toward the middle.
Your chicks are over heated. The behavior you describe is troubling. Do you have a thermometer? What is the wattage of your bulb? If it's in your house, you should use a bulb of less than 100W. If it's outside, you can use the 250W if you have a huge brooder. The temp under the bulb, in a very tiny foot print should be around 90*. Outside that footprint of heated space, the temp should be what ever the ambient temp is. If in your house, the temp at opposite end of the brooder should be 70*.

Chicks being brooded by heat lamp, imo should gather under the lamp to rest. If they are resting away from the lamp, chances are great that the brooder is too warm.

I much prefer brooding with a MHP system. The chances of overheating chicks are not as likely. There should be a warning on the 250W bulbs that they SHOULD NOT BE USED IN THE HOME due to risk of overheating chicks. Any time you have a chick panting, you have an overheating crisis on your hands. Any time you have chicks congregating away from the heat source to rest, you have an over heated brooder.
Ok great thank you for the advice! It's a 250 watt red heat bulb with heat lamp. Being my first time, I ordered a chick brooder starter kit from My Pet Chicken. I guess it's intended for outdoor brooders. The only thermomter I have is a meat thermometer and it was reading 82 at the floor level. Since everything I read is they need to be around 90/95 and anything less than 85 they could die of being too cold I wasn't sure what was going on! The room I have them in is very warm, probably in the 80's as an ambient temperature since it's a small utility room in the basement. I thought that would be best for keeping the warmth in but maybe I'm roasting them out. As of right now that heat lamp is the only thing I have, will it still be effective if it's around 5 feet off the ground, or should I try to find a way to hang a regular light bulb in there?

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