Do Baby Chicks REALLY Need All That Heat?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Barry Natchitoches, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2008
    When I had babies without a mother hen, I've always used a brooder with a heat lamp and followed the standard heating guidelines (95 deg in week 1, 90 deg in week 2, 85 deg in week 3 and so on till they can tolerate room temps).

    But when I have broodies to take care of the chicks, I have the family in the house and they do just fine from hatching day with no heat whatsoever. It is about 72 degrees in my house right now, though at night it goes down to about 65 degrees.

    On hatching day, the babies do seem to spend alot of time underneath their broody mother, sleeping.

    But on day 2 onward, I have watched them most or all of the day outside of Momma's feathered blanket. They play, eat, scratch, poop, interact with each other and with Momma -- all of it in room temperature, with no sign of being too cold.

    Right now, I have three babies that are 10 and 9 days old, and it is 72 degrees in their play room. They are in a large dog wire cage, so there is nothing that is there to help keep them warmer than the ambient room temp.

    And they just playing, lively. They are NOT cold.

    This has got me thinking: do the motherless babies REALLY need as much heat as the guidelines suggest?
  2. gamefowl guy

    gamefowl guy Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 21, 2011
    My computer
    From watching artificially brooded birds and ones with mothers, the chicks seem to use the heat lamp as a warm-up station like the mother. If they have lots of room some of which is not heated by the heat lamp, they will wander around for quite a while and eventually return to the heat lamp to sleep for awhile. The same with a mother hen. I have had young outside where it's been windy and cool and they don't mind at all, but after awhile they need a break and go under the mother.
  3. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Well, it's not like they NEED 90 or 70 (or whatever temp.) all the time, as you've indicated. I've certainly taken young chicks (who, in theory, should be at 85 or 90 degrees) outside to run around in cooler temps for a while...but it's evident when they're ready for a warm-up. I don't think anyone thinks the whole brooder should be (what could be considered unnaturally) hot/warm, but just that there should be a particular area (if mom isn't available - a lamp) to warm up when needed. [​IMG]
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Since baby chicks do hunker down under the broody hen for longer periods, especially at night, the heat "circle" provides them with temps appropriate to mimic the temps under the hen. That is my perspective.

    What small brooder boxes often do not provide are those open areas for them to go exploring. I've noticed that chicks as young as 2 weeks old will spend up to an hour in temperatures that are quite cold, at the farther ends of the 5'x8' brooder I use. When they want to warm up, they return to the heat spot. A large brooding area provides them this contrast, just as life with a broody hen would. The small, confined brooder cannot provide this contrast and keeps the chicks in rather steady heat. Other than increasing the possibility of dehydration and pasty butt, I sure wouldn't know if this creates any particularly horrid issues, judging by their wide spread use by BYCers.
  5. kristip

    kristip Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2010
    New Glarus
    I was wondering this as well as I currently have a new broody ( my first) that just hatched one egg. We set them up in our basement which is near 70 during day time and 65 at night. I keep debating whether I need that heat lamp on at all or just at night? Momma is on nest most of the day because I have more eggs that are due next week and solo baby is just a few days old. What are your thoughts?
  6. justbugged

    justbugged Head of the Night Crew for WA State

    Jan 27, 2009
    Quote:I would bother with a heat lamp in a warmed space like your basement. If the hen is a good mother she should be able to provide all the needs of the chick, or chicks. The hen would rather not be over heated. imho. You maybe able to have the hen accept the new babies, but I would watch the transition very carefully.
  7. Stephanie739

    Stephanie739 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 7, 2011
    Quote:Unless someone tells me I must do otherwise, I will let the mom and babies remain outside without heat (when I have a broody [​IMG] )
    Temps do not usually go lower than the teens even on the coldest winter nights. Still I am not planning on babies again until the winter is past.

    My five week old babies are staying out in the coop (without a heat lamp) now. The temps are in the 50s at night. They have a separate cage within the coop with the big chicks, a well insulated cage. I also place a hot water bottle in the cage with them. They huddle together and seem quite toasty when I go out to check. If it gets much colder I might bring them in but so far they are doing very well, ready to play when morning comes.
  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    I've had chicks running around happily in 40 degree and lower weather....and return to Mom briefly for a warm up, but at night they are all under or on top of her.

    I'd say those constant high temps in small brooders are more detrimental than good but the posts about providing enough space that chicks can come to, or avoid, the warm spot of the lamp are correct.

    I've never measured the temps in my brooder....just raise or lower the lamp after observing the chick's behaviors. I lean towards keeping the chicks on the cool side during the day and a little warmer at night by adjusting the lamp accordingly.
  9. ChickenJay

    ChickenJay New Egg

    Apr 23, 2011
    Wow! Just went to the barn and discovered that our brooding Silkies have hatched a half dozen chicks! The barn is not heated and it is starting to get chilly at night and winter is a short time away. Looking for suggestions on moving the chicks from the barn to a heated garage.

    I am concerned about reintroduction to the flock once they get older as well. We have about 7 hens and a couple of roosters.

    What is the best action to take? I can simply put a brooding lamp in the area where they were hatched and let them free range with the other chickens.

    This is our first hatching and there are several unhatched eggs in the clutch.....HELP!!!!
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    I'd just place your broodies and their chicks in a separate but adjacent place and leave them be. Any unhatched eggs should be removed, as the hens will either leave them anyway or insist on sitting on them to the detriment of the chicks. They shouldn't need a heat lamp at all...they have perfectly warm Moms who know exactly how warm to keep a chick.

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