Hen Raising Chicks, How Cold is Too Cold?

Enchanted Sunrise Farms

12 Years
Apr 26, 2007
Fair Oaks, California
i have a Showgirl, Lt. Ohura, raising 6 baby silkies and showgirls. They will be 2 weeks old this coming Saturday. Our weather had been quite warm, into the hundreds, so i had them in a hutch on our back patio. Now the weather has turned suddenly cold. It's in the 70's during the day and then down to 50 or so at night.

i moved the hutch into our shed so they wouldn't have to deal with cold winds. But the shed isn't insulated so not substantially warmer than outside. This morning the thermometer showed 50 degrees inside the shed. i think we may be dipping into the high forties sometime this week.

The chicks don't seem in any distress, but i'm wondering if i need to be putting a heat lamp on the hutch. They have mom to snuggle under, but they can't do it when she's up and scratching around. Just wondered what others would do. Normally i have my babies in a back room under a heat lamp until they're 6-8 weeks. Just not sure if they need the heat when they have mom.
I had a bantie that raised half a dozen babies in January with temps in the 20s in the daytime. They did fine. The mama can keep those babies as high as 85 degrees under her warm little self.
Ha, our warmest nights here in NY are MAYBE in the 50's!!
70's is the weather I have my chickens in all summer long without any fan running. When it gets into the 80's I turn the fan on
They will be fine without a heat lamp. I have two silkies co- parenting 8 showgirl/cochin mix chicks. It is low 40's at night and 60's during the day and they are fine. In fact they can't figure out how to get them in the coop at night and leave them in a pile underneath the coop(bad mamas) I go rescue them every night and they are still fine in their little chick pile. ( I don't think they would be fine all night)

These chicks are about 2-3 weeks old.

I am more worried about them on a day like today when it is pouring rain and is cold.
Thanks! i know i fret too much. i kept one batch of chicks in the house until they were laying eggs (and my husband started complaining about the cackling).

i've noticed that when my hens hatch out chicks (it's only been three batches so far), they seem much healthier than the ones i've raised in a brooder inside.
Heat lamp would mess with mama's plans, she's got feathers enough for all. I had a brood hatch in very early spring, temps well below freezing, all did super well. You DO fret too much!
Putting them in the shed was prolly a good idea to keep drafts down a bit, but let mama manage the temperature.
Awww, so cute! I have a buff Ameraucana broody with 11 two-week-old Ameraucana chicks and the little boogers are running around as healthy and happy as can be - and we're getting frost at night. When they start to get chilled they make a sad sort of chirp and mama gathers them together for a warming session, then off they go again.
I live in Citrus Heights and was wondering the same thing. That's cold to a Californian! I have a Maran raising 11 chicks she hatched 3 weeks ago from eggs I got the eggs from a lady I met on Craigslist. I have them inside the main coop in a wire cage at night. During the day they are with the rest of the flock of 13 free ranging. I am not really worried except that I went down to the coop last night and saw her trying to tuck all those big babies under her wings. My plan for the winter is to get one of those timers that turns on at 35 degrees and off again at 45 degrees and plug in a heat lamp. Last winter our hens huddled together in a small playhouse coop. This year we have a bigger coop, added hens, some don't get along and cuddling is not an option.

Good luck neighbor!


Hi Mary - Cluckawalla Valley State Prison, that is so funny! i've never heard of timers that you can set by temperature. That's a great idea. Last year i only had the one pen of silkies that i was concerned about. i had my big girls, but wasn't too worried about them, and then my showgirls got to sleep in our shed.

The silkies all huddled in a small coop at night, but mornings were mighty frosty. So i rigged up a sun tanning both for them with a heat lamp covered in hardware cloth and secured to the side of a hutch. They all took turns sitting in the warmth. But now i have 6 more silkie coops, so not sure if i feel comfortable running extension cords all over the place. i do wrap the pens partially in plastic sheeting on the windy sides, but that doesn't seem like enough on the super cold days.

Here is the tanning booth. You can also see the pen half-wrapped in plastic, and then i also wrap blankets around the coop. Not very attractive, but . . . oh well, it's only during the winter months.


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