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How do you tell how cold your chicks are?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Lyn862, Apr 20, 2008.

  1. Lyn862

    Lyn862 In the Brooder

    Apr 12, 2008
    Oakley, Idaho
    Temperatures here in Idaho have dropped 30 degrees in the last day or so. The high for today was forecast to be 38 with 25 mph winds. Brrrr. My 10 day old chicks are in a shed with a space heater and in a commercial brooder. It's a tin box thing about 2 feet by 3 feet. I found them today standing under the heat element. Yesterday they were doing all kinds of stuff: jumping off the feeder and flapping their wings, pecking, and wandering around and peeping happily. So obviously they are cold. I put a blanket over the brooder leaving the end open so they could get air and added a heatlamp above the brooder to warm things up. My questions is how to tell how cold they are. I thought when they got cold, they did their upset cheeping noise. These guys were not making any noise at all. So are they okay, a little chilly. gee it is nice here by the heat? Or are they mostly frozen, too cold to make a sound, about to die cold? They were mostly standing under the heat element with a little space between them, not moving or doing anything at all. I'm just a little freeked out is all. I don't know whether to take emergency measures or relax and go to bed.
  2. kodiakchicken

    kodiakchicken Songster

    Apr 18, 2008
    Kodiak, Alaska
    Hopefully someone else will jump on here as I am a newbie waiting on my first chicks. From what I've read though, this is the behaviour of some very cold babies. I would be very careful with all the heat lamps, blankets, etc for fire safety too. Maybe bring them inside until the storm passes? 10 days is pretty little.
  3. chickenannie

    chickenannie Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    You did the right thing by observing their behavior. If they are too hot they will be at the corners of the brooder trying to get away from the heat lamp. If they are standing underneath the heatlamp like that, yes, they are cold.

    I put a thermometer or two in the brooder so I could tell what the temp was -- put one under the lamp and one at the edge. that should tell you the temp.

    I dont' know what you mean when you say a "space heater" but generally people use heat lamps. your space heater may not be providing enough heat on a cold night like this.

    You could add a second heat lamp if you have one. A regular light bulb works fine too. You can also lower the heat lamp closer to them. BUT PLEASE BE VERY CAREFUL as you dont' want to start a fire (check your blanket too) or have the heat source too close to bedding or flammable materials.

    I agree with the above post, it might be easiest just to bring them inside for the night.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2008
  4. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing Premium Member

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    They huddle under the heat when they are cold. They can also begin to pile. Piling is dngerous as usually the chicks ont he bottom are mashed and suffocate and die. With all the heat and blankets I would be very careful about a fire hazard.

    Can you bring them inside and keep them warm with a heat lamp until your weather warms up?

    If they do get chilled they can have a very hard time recovering. Chilling can even be fatal.

    At 10 days old they need 85 - 90 degree temps without drafts.
  5. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

    Jun 10, 2007
    Douglasville GA
    At 10 days old they need to be in 85 degree temps, do you have a thermometer in their brooder?

    Sounds like they are huddling because they are cold.

    Can you move them to a warmer place?
    If they get chilled they will probably die.
  6. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Is it drafty by any chance too? They probably already got over their "cheep cheep I'm cold" stage and resorted to standing in the warmest place possible. If it is so windy, maybe it would be best to bring them in for a few days. Best of luck.
  7. jnjross

    jnjross Songster

    Apr 3, 2008
    edwards, ms
    i'd bring them in, at night at least with temp that low. my 5 wk are sleeping in my tub low are 40s.
  8. jadell

    jadell In the Brooder

    Apr 20, 2008
    North Carolina
    I'm new here, and new to chickens. Just wanted to let you know that I've had my chicks for a month now. I kept them outside in a shed with a heat lamp about 18 inches above them. It was REALLY cold for the first part of their lives. They basically hung out under the lamp all the time. I covered the top of my brooder with a board so the heat was held in, but there was room on the edges to get fresh air. I think as long as there isn't a draft, and you keep the heat in the brooder, they will be fine. All my friends took extra caution with their chicks by keeping them inside and have lost several . . . I still have all 20 of mine, getting big and strong!! Oh yeah, I have since moved the lamp up since the days are warming up.
  9. Lyn862

    Lyn862 In the Brooder

    Apr 12, 2008
    Oakley, Idaho
    I just went and checked them again. They are doing better. The heat lamp and blanket have helped. They came over to see me and started eating and cheeping. They still are hanging out under the heating element in the brooder. I am deciding whether or not to bring them in. I heat my house with a wood stove so the heat is not so regular in here either. My space heater has a thermostat that will kick the heat on and off. I thought it would keep the little shed a more constant temperature than I could provide here in the house. I did have a thermometer, but I stepped on it a couple of days ago. I know I am sounding thoroughly incompetent. It would be a hard thing to bring the chicks in and get the right temp in here. It took me several days to get it right in the shed before they came. I could also turn the temperature up on the space heater. It is set quite low. My space heater kicks out a lot more heat than a heat lamp.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2008
  10. chickenannie

    chickenannie Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    If you could know all the things I've done here to keep my chickens happy and all the problems that have occurred, you'd know that I (and all of us) have learned through each of these experiences... you are not incompetent, you're just learning as you go like the rest of us!

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