did I cook my babies?


In the Brooder
9 Years
Jul 3, 2010
Orange County
I lost a few chicks the first week and the guy at the feed store said that it sounded like pneumonia due to getting too cold at night. So I cranked up the heat and they seemed to do better, but a few times I was away for a whole day and left the heat lamp on because it was cold in the garage (where my brooder is) in the morning but then the temp got really hot 90's during the day. They were really lethargic, but then seemed to be ok the next day except one little one who still seems weak. I feel really guilty that I may have "cooked" them. I'm sure the temp was over 100
What kind of long term damage have I done?
I don't know about long term damage. I'm sure someone else knows about that...how big is your brooder box? I use a big (4 foot x 4 foot) box. I hang the heat lamp over one end, near a corner. The heat comes down from the bulb and reflects off the sides, creating a really warm spot if they need it. The rest of the box is cooler. I put the feeder and water in the middle, a bit closer to the heated end of the box. I don't want them to get cold when they eat and drink. If it's really cold I'll lay a baby gate on top of the box and cover it with a towel or blanket. Being careful of course that it's not too close to the heat lamp. The light can be raised or lowered to change the heat as needed. The blanket can be folded back or removed as a further control.

For this batch of chicks, they came earlier than expected, and my usual size box was not available. I had to take a smaller box, about two and a half feet by three and a half. It's been much harder to keep the temp steady.

I have the same worries when noone is here, but I try to anticipate the weather a bit and I'd rather they be a little cool (not cold) than too hot, because they can huddle if they're cold but have no way to cool off if the whole brooder is too hot. On the other hand, a chilled baby doesn't swallow or digest as well. It's never easy...I have the great good fortune that my DH comes home at noon for lunch so he can check them then and make any adjustments needed. Do you have any neighbors who might just check them for you during the day? Offer them eggs in the spring in exchange!

The other thing to remember is that the recommended temps are only a guideline. This is my third batch of chicks, and none of them have wanted 95 degree temps once they were warmed up after shipment. I've never used a thermometer, I go by the chicks. If they're huddled tight under the lamp, they're cold. If they're as far away as they can get, they're hot. They do tend to flock together when I come in, and more when they see me looming over the box, but in general they should be fairly quiet, and looking comfortable - digging, pecking, exploring and sleeping.

I hope your babies recover and do well for you. Good luck

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