Heat lamp, pasty butt - new chick instructions for BOYFRIEND

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Sarahal88, Feb 10, 2015.

  1. Sarahal88

    Sarahal88 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So after weeks and weeks of anticipation, during which I have been reading all about raising chickens and starting baby chicks, I just found out that I have a mandatory out of town meeting and will most likely not be able to pick my 20 baby chicks up from the post office when they arrive next week.

    So now I am trying to figure out how to make sure my boyfriend, who kindly agreed to get the chicks, does everything right, given that he is not as much of a "do things exactly by the book" person and is more of a "eh, they'll be fine!" kind of person when it comes to animals. Here are my questions:

    1) Brooder temp
    I have been testing the brooder temp in advance and am having trouble getting the temp right. I have read all about watching the chick behavior to adjust temp, but I want to have it as close to right as possible, since I am relying on my boyfriend to do it and not myself.

    I feel like my lamp has to be very close to the chicks to reach 95 degrees (8-10 inches). I have a thermometer in the air about 2 inches off the ground, But the actual floor of the brooder is MUCH hotter than 95 when it is like that. It is a 250 watt bulb. Maybe the problem is I am using a meat thermometer? Would that have an impact? Should i be looking at the air temp or the surface temp of whatever the thermometer is sitting on?

    Finally, the room I am brooding in has a greenhouse effect and can get very warm in day time even when the outdoor temperatures are very cool. But at night with no sun, it is almost as cold as outside. Am I going to need to adjust the brooder heat lamp a lot between day and night because of this?

    2) How often should he check on the chicks during their first day home? If it were me I would be checking every five minutes but how often would you reccommend?

    3) Also, any other instructions I should give him? I am preparing a list - already telling him to check for pasty butt, dip beaks in water, watch to see if they are too hot/cold. I hope he stays with me after he sees this list, haha.
     
  2. Nupe

    Nupe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just make sure there's plenty of room in the brooder for the chicks to move away from the heat lamp and they'll self regulate. I like to angle the reflector a little outward and test the floor where the light is most intense, aiming for about 100 degrees.

    As far as anything else, I would suggest starting them out with some sugar in their water. It perks them up quick (and it's quite amusing to watch the little critters on their first sugar high.) Also, show them the food as well. You may have to sprinkle a little on the floor around them to get them to start pecking and scratching. They'll catch on quick.
    [​IMG]

    One more thing... I don't know how the floor in your brooder is setup. Newspapers can be slippery with chicky poop and wood chips can be rough and uneven on tender little chicky toes. These can cause leg and foot issues or make existing ones worse. One tip that is highly regarded in this community is laying out paper towels on top of your bedding for the first few days to a week. It soaks down moisture and offers enough traction for the babies to build up some initial leg strength.
     
  3. Sarahal88

    Sarahal88 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the tips!

    My brooder is made of cardboard boxes. The floor is lined with plastic and I plan to put pine shavings on top of that, and paper towels on top of that, as per your advice. I have heard that several places and think it sounds like a good idea.

    My brooder box is 3 feet by 5 feet long with 18 inch sides. Is that big enough for them to have enough space away from the heat?

    And a side question, at what age do you think my 20 will outgrow this 3x5 brooder? I made a chicken wire lid for it.

    Thanks!
     
  4. scflock

    scflock Overrun With Chickens

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    It's not as hard as it sounds. Healthy chicks are pretty hardy. The biggest concern is temperature swings. It sounds like you have the pasty butt and beak dipping covered. Sometimes you don't even have to dip the beaks, or just dip a couple of them. Once one or two learn, they will all figure it out.
    The only thing I read in your post to be concerned about is the heat lamp and greenhouse effect. 8-10" is close for a 250 watt bulb, especially if your brooder is small. That would be fine if they have enough room to get away from the heat if they need to, but if the brooder is small you could end up overheating them and losing them. When I brooded 15-20 chicks inside, before getting a plate warmer, I built a brooder box 3ft long, 2ft wide, and 20 inches tall. I clipped the light to the side of the box and focused the light on one side. This gave them a cooler side to move to if they were getting overheated. Don't try to crowd them all under the light all the time. They will instinctually move closer to, or further from the light depending on what they need. If they are crowded under the brightest spot of the lamp, they are too cold. If they are piled up in a corner trying to get away from the light, they are too hot. If they are milling about comfortably, or sleeping in a circle around the ring of light, then you are in good shape.
     
  5. scflock

    scflock Overrun With Chickens

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    You posted while I was typing. Sounds like you have a good brooder setup that will probably last you for a few weeks
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    One other tid-bit: be sure that reflector is secured by more than just the clamp. If the clamp fails, you want a second method of keeping it secured so it doesn't fall against any thing flammable. Any pets in the home? If so, you'll need to keep them out of that room, unless you're with the chicks. Cats and dogs can wreak havoc even if they're well intentioned. And sometimes, the best of intentions give way to instinct, and become lethal. Have the brooder lamp set up and trial it for a day or two before chicks come. How warm does it get in that room (at it's warmest)?
     
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  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I wouldn't use a meat thermometer...just a typical household indoor outdoor thermometer, put it right on the floor of the brooder cause that's where the chicks will be.
    You might not even need a heat bulb.

    Here's my notes on chick heat, hope something in there might help:
    They need to be pretty warm(~85F on the brooder floor right under the lamp) for the first day or two, especially if they have been shipped, until they get to eating, drinking and moving around well. But after that it's best to keep them as cool as possible for optimal feather growth and quicker integration to outside temps. A lot of chick illnesses are attributed to too warm of a brooder. I do think it's a good idea to use a thermometer on the floor of the brooder to check the temps, especially when new at brooding, later i still use it but more out of curiosity than need.

    The best indicator of heat levels is to watch their behavior:
    If they are huddled/piled up right under the lamp and cheeping very loudly, they are too cold.
    If they are spread out on the absolute edges of the brooder as far from the lamp as possible, panting and/or cheeping very loudly, they are too hot.
    If they sleep around the edge of the lamp calmly just next to each other and spend time running all around the brooder they are juuuust right!

    The lamp is best at one end of the brooder with food/water at the other cooler end of the brooder, so they can get away from the heat or be under it as needed. Wattage of 'heat' bulb depends on size of brooder and ambient temperature of room brooder is in. Regular incandescent bulbs can be used, you might not need a 'heat bulb'. You can get red colored incandescent bulbs at a reptile supply source. A dimmer extension cord is an excellent way to adjust the output of the bulb to change the heat without changing the height of the lamp.
     
  8. Nupe

    Nupe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My brooder for my flock of 18 was about that same size. I pieced it together on a corner in my shop using disassembled tall cardboard boxes so the walls were about 3ft tall and the front was chicken wire that I could strap back when I needed to get in there. I never covered it and only had one escape artist. Anyway, at about 4 weeks, I got to the point I was replacing bedding every day, and they needed to go. Fortunately, it was summer time and their coop was finished. So I moved them into the coop which has a 6x6 footprint with raised nesting boxes and plenty of roosts and here they stayed until the run was finished. The good part of that was, I never had to teach them where to go at night.

    I don't know where you are as far as outside temps, but I hope you have plans already in the works for their next stop or their permanent home. They grow faster than you can believe and they will have you scrambling if you're not ready.
     
  9. Sarahal88

    Sarahal88 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for more tips. To answer some questions here -

    On a sunny day, my mudroom where I plan to brood gets up to maybe 70-75 degrees right now even if it is below freezing outside, but only if it is sunny.

    Where I live, we currently get temps down to the low teens occasionally. Our last frost day is around May first. My plan is when the chicks outgrow the brooder, they will go a 9 x 8 run that connects to the coop. I think I will leave the coop in the workshop where it is currently under construction, that way it will be safer from predators and drafts, and there is electricity so I can keep the heat lamp on them. Eventually the idea is that they will free range outside of the run during the day. Also, we plan to keep only 8 laying hens or so, if we get that many out of the 20 straight run chicks. The rest of the roos will be dinner, except maybe one.

    Thanks for all the thoughts and tips.
     
  10. Sarahal88

    Sarahal88 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am concerned about the temp swings too. The mudroom acts almost like a green house so it can get in the 70s (maybe 80s??) on a sunny day, but plummet below freezing at night. We even keep a space heater behind the washing machine which is out there to keep the pipes from freezing. Should I just plan to move back the lamp before I leave in the morning, and adjust again at night to account for this? The thing is I won't be home all day to check how they are doing and adjust. Boyfriend is home about 4 days a week.

    Or do I need to place my brooder somewhere else? Maybe the mudroom is a bad spot.

    Again - 20 chicks, 3x5 box, 250 watt bulb.

    Also another random question I thought of. I am hoping to eventually move the chicks into their coop in the workshop once they outgrow their box. However, my boyfriend does use power tools out there to the point where he does use hearing protection. Is that going to hurt the chicks ears? They won't be out there until they are at least 4-5 weeks old I think.
     

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