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Help for newbie with baby chicks please!!!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Abelle27, Nov 19, 2015.

  1. Abelle27

    Abelle27 New Egg

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    Hi everyone,

    My sons kinder has just done a Hatchlings program and we have agreed to adopt 6 baby chicks all 1-3 weeks old with only a couple of feathers.
    Can someone please tell me whether I need to use a red heat globe or whether a normal desk lamp is okay and what wattage I need? They will be inside and it is generally about 20ish degrees celsius inside the house. Thank you!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    20 C = 68 F. That might help some people with this.

    You can use any heat source you wish. People will often tell you many reasons why you can’t do something while others do it quite successfully. There are a lot of different ways you can provide heat, not all of them involve bulbs. You might want to check out this thread to see an alternative that is becoming popular with many people. A hover, an inverted shallow box a couple of inches off the floor to trap heat, is another option.

    Mama heating pad
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/956958/mama-heating-pad-in-the-brooder-picture-heavy-update

    You are not trying to warm their entire universe to some perfect temperature. That perfect temperature doesn’t exist anyway. Just like people, different chicks prefer different temperatures but can operate in a fairly wide range. To me the perfect brooder is one that is big enough that you can heat one area warm enough yet let the rest cool off quite a bit so he chicks can self-regulate. That way they will find the temperature they want to be.

    Let the chicks tell you how you are doing. If they all crowd in the heat you need to increase the heat. If they are as far away from the heat source as they can get, it is too hot. If they are scattered a bit and wandering from one zone to another, you are doing great. They tend to sleep in a group, often pretty close to the heat source. Don’t let that fool you, they are not cold, they just like company when they sleep. If they are cold you will hear a plaintive peeping. Just listening to it you know something is wrong, it’s that sad.

    How are you set up for outside? They will grow really fast, they will create a lot of dust, can be loud, and if you don’t keep the brooder pretty dry and cleaned out, they can stink. You might want them out of your house a lot sooner than you think. Most chicks feather out at four to five weeks and can keep themselves warm after that in fairly cold temperatures, but I don’t know how cold your temps will be then.

    I’ve had chicks less than six weeks old go through nights at -5C with no supplemental heat with no problems, but mine are raised outside in a large brooder where one end is kept toasty while the other is allowed to cool off as it will. I’ve put chicks in that brooder straight from the incubator. While one end has to remain warm the far end sometimes has ice in it. Mine are acclimated to the cold. Once they get a little age on them they wander all around, including the cold end. Then coop they are in has good ventilation up high so good air is exchanged for bad, but they have good wind protection down on the floor where they are.

    If you have electricity in your coop you might want to consider rigging up a brooder out there. They do need an area they can go to so they can warm up when they need to, but they will spend a surprising amount of time in cooler areas.

    Good luck with it.
     
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  3. Abelle27

    Abelle27 New Egg

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    Nov 19, 2015
    Thank you so kuch for the info! We picked them up this morning and they are currently in a box with wood shavings and a ht water bottle on one side to keep warm.
    I have purchased a red halogen globe and a light fitting for it which we will clamp on to an old indoor rabbit cage. The cage will be disinfected so as not to cross contaminate. I am thinking once they are 5-6 weeks old they would be okay outside as it is likely to be 25-35 degrees celsius then. What is the maximum heat they can withstand? They will have some shade but it can getup to 40 degrees celsius in January/February.... [​IMG]
     
  4. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Like @Ridgerunner I also brood chicks outdoors in a pen in the run. Not enough space in my coop for the brooder, so I set it up out there. I don't know how to convert temps, but it was in the teens and twenties (F) and I raised 3 groups using a heating pad cave. Works great!

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yes-you-certainly-can-brood-chicks-outdoors

    As he said, chicks do very well when they can regulate their own comfort level rather than having one box with every spot in it heated to within a degree or two throughout. Yep, they do put out a lot of dust - very fine, powdery, insidious dust that gets into every nook and crevice around. And they peep - a lot! With a heat lamp that peeping goes on 24/7.Seems they never all sleep at the same time, silly things!

    Good luck with them regardless of what you decide to do!
     
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  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    25C = 77F
    35C = 95F
    40C = 104F

    Blooie, go to Google and type in “temperature conversion”. I can easily do these in my head since they are divisible by 5 but there’s nothing wrong with cheating in this case. It’s morally and ethically acceptable.

    Heat is a different issue and even more dangerous than cold in many respects. Once they have feathered out more chickens die from heat than cold. Many more. It sounds like you are a little south of the equator, maybe northern Australia, but there are many other places that could match those temperatures. If you decide to hang around this forum it helps to put your rough location in your profile to help with some of these questions.

    When can yours go outside? The important temperature for that is the overnight low, not the daytime high. I very much doubt will need to wait until they are 5 to 6 weeks old. In what we considered a ridiculous heat wave a few years back, probably fairly normal for you, our highs hit around 45C with our lows just below 30C. I turned the daytime heat off at 2 days and the nighttime heat off at 5 days in my outdoor brooder. Their body language told me they did not need it and they did not.

    I’ve had a broody hen wean her chicks and leave them totally on their own at three weeks. Overnight lows were in the low to mid 20’s C. I’ve seen a broody hen take her chicks to the roosts at two weeks. Not all of them made it and a couple slept on their own with the lows around the mid to upper 20’s.

    I don’t know how much you cool off at night, but you might be looking at them going outside at three to four weeks, not five to six. I’m generally more cautious about that than my broody hens are.

    For heat like that, they need shade. Sunlight and heat can come in from the sides too, not just from above. Mine are generally OK up to about 35C (95F) but after that sick or weak ones can be in trouble. The healthy ones can and do handle quite a bit more. If you can give them different options of where to go, (under trees, inside outbuildings, various options) they are pretty good at regulating this, but if they are contained where they don’t have many options it can get rougher. My area is pretty wide open, not much shade, and water is plentiful here so when the temperatures top 35C I water down a part of the run to cool it off. Some people in really hot climates set up misters or swamp coolers. I imagine many people around you keep chickens. Maybe you can chat with some of them and see what they do, but pay attention to how much freedom their chickens have to self-regulate. That can make a big difference. I imagine most people around you with a small flock of chickens don’t do a lot about the heat. Mine are pretty restricted as far as shade and ability to self-regulate goes so I do more.

    I don’t know how cold your winters get but with very little help (mostly keep direct cold winds from hitting them when they are on the roost) they can handle what we would consider very cold quite well. You probably don’t need a lot of shelter for them in the winter.

    In your climate you have probably been in outbuildings that are really hot in the summer but also some that are pretty cool considering the conditions. I don’t know what your outside facilities look like or if they are already ready, but there are a few things to consider. A lot of people in your heat build pretty wide open coops, with some or even all walls wire to let air through instead of solid. If yours are more solid having openings high and low, lots of openings, can get a reasonable flow of air through there just because warm air rises. It helps to have your down low inlet on the shaded side so the air is cooler. Also, don’t put nests on a sunny wall. Those can become ovens. Put your nests on a cool wall. Of course, if you are converting something that stays fairly cool, ignore what I just said.

    You have some challenges in your climate but those hatching eggs came from somewhere. There should be someone around to help you with local conditions. Good luck!
     
  6. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Um, I was told there'd be no mathththth! [​IMG]
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    There doesn't have to be any math, just keyboarding. :tongue
     
  8. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Okay, I can do the googling but as soon as you said 'divisible by 5" visions of mean old Mr. Graves, my 9th grade math teacher, smacked right back into my brain!
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2015
  9. Free Spirit

    Free Spirit The Chiarian

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    Here is a site with an auto conversion table. Just type in the number you know and choose to convert to Fahrenheit or Celsius and it will do all the work for you. It also provides the formula so you know how that answer was derived.

    http://manuelsweb.com/temp.htm
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Here's my notes on chick heat, hope something in there might help:
    They need to be pretty warm(~85-90F on the brooder floor right under the lamp and 10-20 degrees cooler at the other end of brooder) 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.


    Or you could go with a heat plate, commercially made or DIY: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/pseudo-brooder-heater-plate
     

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