Do chicks really need heat?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by BaileyBoy, Feb 8, 2014.

  1. BaileyBoy

    BaileyBoy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 8, 2014
    I understand they need a confined space without draft but when you think about it, the momma chicks don't sit on the chicks once they have hatched. they wonder around and after the first few days or so they are out and about… right? Also is my brooder big enough for 4 chicks if its only 22 square inches. And last thing, do they need a piece of wood to perch on within the first 3 weeks?
  2. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    The first few weeks the mama hen spends a great deal of time stuffing all of the chicks under her feathers to keep them warm. When she thinks they might be hungry and thirsty she gets up and tells the chicks they must eat and drink.

    It is very cute, she goes to the food and calls them, and scratches up a storm. Then she goes to the water and calls them.

    She she thinks they have had enough to eat and drink she tells them they have to hide back under her skirts. Any little chick that doesn't get under her she will fuss over and then force under her skirts and even tuck them in if little chicks try to peak out when she doesn't think they should.

    So, with a mama hen they do stay very nicely warm.

    So, yes, they definitely need heat for the first few weeks.

    They do not need a perch though.

    As to enough space, I have no idea, I have always just "eyeballed" space requirements for my chicks.

    They do need enough space so that there is one area with the heat lamp that is pretty warm, and there needs to be enough space so the chicks can go cool off if the heat lamp is too warm. But it can't be so large that the chick can get lost and not find the heat lamp again.

    And the water has to be far enough away from the heat lamp so that the heat lamp doesn't melt it. [​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    That’s a good post! :goodpost:

    That is exactly what heat chicks need, one area warm enough but other areas cool enough. My brooder is built into the coop and fits that description well. By having some of it warm and some of it cool or even cold, I was able to put my 5 week old chicks out when the overnight lows were in the mid 40’s. If they had been kept at a tropical temperature in the entire brooder, they could have had real trouble. When you can take the heat away depends on what temperatures you have and how well they have been acclimated.

    It doesn’t hurt to have a perch, they may even use the feeder or waterer depending on what kinds you use, but doing without a perch will not harm them physically, mentally, or emotionally.

    There is no magic number of how many square feet each chick needs. That’s going to depend on the age of the chick, the breed, and the sex ratio. Cockerels grow faster than pullets and are usually more active. At hatch it doesn’t matter but in a few weeks it does. The more chicks you have the less square feet per chick you need, but they grow awfully fast.

    Is a 22” x 22” big enough for four chicks? If you can get around the problem of heating one area and having a cooler area so they can get away from the heat, it should work for a while. That’s more area per chick than I have in my brooder. But my brooder is 3’ x 6’. They have room to run and play. There is always a lot of unoccupied space for them to explore. If you get a bully, mine have room to get away from the bully.

    I don’t know how long you plan to keep yours in the brooder, but I think you’ll find that with the way they grow, in just a few weeks it’s going to be pretty crowded in there. Be thinking what you will do if you get to that point so you can be prepared.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    You got excellent advice above, I really can't improve on it, so I'll just second it.

    Heat plates like the ecoglow by brinsea are becoming more popular, they simulate a broody hen much better than a heat lamp. Course, for the price, I can feed all my broody hens, plus get the joy of watching her raise them.....
  5. MrsBachbach

    MrsBachbach Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 6, 2013

    Yes they need heat. They also need the space to get out from under the heat. If you observe mom and the chicks, when the chicks get chilled, they get back under her. At night, they always get under her, her wings, etc. Up until about six weeks old they do this. Very cute to see the little heads poking out from under mom.
  6. Sagetown

    Sagetown Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 1, 2014
    S E Oklahoma
    They scurry about for short periods, then duck back under mamma for a quick warm up, and out again. When the hen is foraging, she'll pause occasionally, and squat down to let the little chicks dry out from the dew, and warm up. A careless hen will lose her chicks because she forgets to take care of them in this manner.
  7. melroseladi

    melroseladi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2011
    Melrose, Florida
    My mama brings her chick out first thing in the morning and they start scratching for food. They have a hutch that has chick feed and water that they have free access to but I have yet to see her take the chick in the hutch during the day. Even on the coldest days the chick would be out with the mom. When the chick needs to get warm it runs up under the mom then comes back out. Mom never goes back on the nest with the chick until it is bed time.

    Based on that I suggest a warm spot as well as cool spot. I have eggs going into lockdown tonight and this time around I am using a heat plate instead of a heat lamp. The chicks go in and out from under it as they need to to get warm, more like they would do with a mom.

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