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Heat lamp On or Off

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ODchickens, Feb 19, 2015.

  1. ODchickens

    ODchickens Chirping

    Oct 7, 2014
    Chicks are two weeks old. We have the brooder heat lamp on constantly. In the day we add another room light to make it look different that just the red light.

    When can we start to train the chicks to sleep at night with no light at all?

    They all seem to be very happy but definitely play and sleep on and off throughout the day and night. I'd like to get them to roost at night so they will be ready for the coop with the automatic door. They love the roost that I have in the brooder. Always hopping on and off.
    Thanks for some replies.
    Owen and Debbie

  2. blondiebee181

    blondiebee181 Songster

    Mar 21, 2012
    Boise, ID
    #1. You do not need any additional light than your heat lamp, so you can axe the additional light.
    #2. You need to decrease the temperature in the brooder by about 5 degrees each week after your first additional week. This is accomplished by raising the heat lamp a little each week.

    #3 Training roosts are always a good idea! Chickens are pretty much natural at roosting, so don't worry about them putting themselves to bed at night. They will do this on their own, it's an instinct. DO make sure that when you do put them out in their permanent coop (approx. 2 mos.) that they are roosting and not sleeping in the nest boxes! Sometimes they like to try to sleep in the boxes because it's warm and comfy....bad habit! Block the nests off with a little wire until their 16-18th week [​IMG].
  3. ODchickens

    ODchickens Chirping

    Oct 7, 2014
    Thank you for the info. The nest boxes will be blocked off when they go on coop. I will make adjustments to the light each week.
  4. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Let your chicks determine how much heat they need, first and foremost. It's far, far better for feather development and overall health to err on the side of too little than too much heat.

    Chicks will chirp madly when they are uncomfortable, especially too cool, and they will be huddling together crowded under the lamp. Just lower the lamp a bit if that happens.

    What I do is to simulate night and day rhythms by draping a shade cloth between the lamp and the chicks come nightfall, and removing it at daybreak. It's important the chicks get into this rhythm as egg laying depends upon it. I do it from day one.

    The advantage of providing "night" for chicks, in addition to the above, is they will not likely be afraid of the dark when they go to live in the coop.
  5. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Depending on weather and how fast the chicks feather I've had them outside in 4 weeks. Though I usually brood them at Easter and temps can hit 50F with lows of 20F when I put them out at 4 weeks. Currently I'm in a deep freeze and couldn't imagine them outside that soon but once they are completely feathered they are good to go and that may take 6 weeks.

    They'll actually feather faster with decreasing the heat. I start raising the light after three days, by end of 2nd week turn off the light for few hours at a time and for 4 days prior to outdoors they have no heat in a 65F house.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    We all raise them in different conditions and using different methods so you are going to get a lot of different and often conflicting suggestions. Personally I don’t believe in magic numbers for chickens in much of anything because we are all so unique. I very much believe in letting the chicks tell me what they need. But someone without experience may not be able to read the chicks that well and generally lack confidence that they are understanding them properly. You are dealing with living animals so you are nervous. That’s normal. A thermometer in the brooder may help give you confidence.

    My 3’ x 6’ brooder is in the coop. I heat one end and keep it toasty while the far end cools off quite a bit. I’ve got chicks in it now that are barely over a week old that have been through nights where the overnight low was in single digits Fahrenheit. I even found some frost in the far end one morning. The chicks stayed on the toasty end and were fine. They do roam some in the cooler end when it is not that cold but stay mostly on the warm end for now. That will soon change.

    I’ve had 5 week olds go through nights in an unheated grow-out coop when the overnight lows hit the mid 40’s. I’ve had some less than 6 weeks old go through nights in that same unheated coop when the lows hit the mid 20’s F. That grow out coop has good draft protection and good ventilation up high. My chicks had no problems with that, but I think part of that was that they were acclimated by living in that brooder where they could play in cooler temperatures. Another factor is that there were enough of them so they could help keep each other warm.

    In that same brooder during a ridiculous heat spell a few years back I turned the daytime heat off at 2 days and the overnight heat off at 5 days. Even at night they were sleeping as far away from the heat source as they could get. They simply did not need it. Most of the time I’m somewhere in between these extremes. The chicks tell me what they need.

    I don’t know how many chicks you have, how big your brooder is, how warm you keep the room, any of that, but to me the best brooder is one where you heat one end warm enough and let the rest cool off so they can find their own comfort zone. You are getting it right when they don’t spend all the time huddled at the heat source or as far from the heat as they can get. The chicks don’t care if that is in the house or outside as long as one spot is warm enough and they can get some place that is not too hot. The more they are exposed to different temperatures the sooner they can go without any heat at all.

    I’ve never worried about setting up a day and night cycle for them, but then mine are not raised in the house. With the dust, noise, and potential smell, I like to stay married so mine are outside from Day 1. We are all unique.

    I have had a broody hen take her chicks to the roosts at about 2 weeks of age. I’ve had broodies wait until about 5 weeks to do that. I have had brooder raised chicks go to the roosts immediately in that grow-out coop at 5 weeks, but what is more normal is that somewhere between 10 to 12 weeks is when they make the transition from sleeping on the floor to roosting. Some have gone several weeks longer. There is no magic number when every chick in the world will or should start roosting. They are all unique. I do have a practice roost in the brooder. During the day they will play on the roosts in that grow out coop, but that is just perching. Roosting is when they sleep there.

    I hope you get something useful out of all this. The good thing is that they are pretty tough. A whole lot of different things can work. Good luck!

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