I just got my first chicks


Dec 26, 2015
Theyre a week old and are sleeping right now :) how long should i wait before i start interacting? I dont want to scare them to death. Also i heard you have to clean their butt how often should i do that? I think they were hot earlier because they started panting so i turned off the heating lamp (theyre space is rlly small) and now theyre huddled up sleeping. They look so cute and peaceful ^~^ once theyre awake ill change them to a tubberware bin. I hope i can do all the right things for them! Do i need to be reducing the heat as they grow? Or will they just adapt when i put them outside?


6 Years
Dec 12, 2013
Lancashire, England
You can begin interacting with them whenever you like, just be gentle, quiet. You won't scare them to death!

Clean their bums if they get poop stuck there because that can become quite serious.

It's better to ease them off heat and not just suddenly change it.

For any more questions, you should check out the Learning Centre Articles on Raising Chicks :


Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
Colorado Rockies
The most important thing for new chick keepers to know is that the brooder needs to be big enough for a warm spot and all the rest should be cool.

Therefore, your heat source needs to be limited to warming just one spot. When you have a small brooder box and you hang a heat lamp over it, the entire box becomes an oven. That's fine for baking a cake, but your chicks aren't baked goods, so they overheat, pant, and if you hadn't caught it in time, they could have become sick and died.

A far better way of warming chicks is with the heating pad system. See "Mama Heating Pad in the Brooder". You take a heating pad that has the ability to remain on indefinitely and attach it to a wire frame to form a cave. The chicks warm up under the heating pad, and then come out and play and eat until they cool down and need to warm up some more.

It's much easier to decrease the heat by selecting a lower setting than it is with a dangerous heat lamp. But if you must use it, make sure it's warming just a small area directly beneath and not the entire brooder.


Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
Colorado Rockies
The chicks will wean themselves off the heat as long as they have plenty of room in the brooder.

Most of us spend quite a lot of time (wasted perhaps?) watching our chicks. If you're careful to observe, the chicks will begin spending more and more time away from the heat source. In the case of a heat lamp, this is a cue to raise it or install a lower wattage bulb.

If you have the heating pad system, likewise the chicks will begin spending more time outside their cave, perhaps on top of it instead of inside. This is the cue to lower the heat setting.

There are tables that try to guide new chick keepers in heat weaning, but I recommend you ignore them. They are prejudiced in favor of way too much heat. In my opinion and experience. The better guide is your own chicks. As they feather out, they need less heat. Depending on whether you brood indoors at a warm ambient temp or outdoors where it could be below freezing, your chicks will feather out at a different rate.

Generally, by the time chicks reach four weeks, they need very little heat. If they're indoors in a heated room, they may need no heat at all. If they're outdoors, where I brooded my chicks this past year, they may be lounging around on top the heating pad cave and even sleeping there at night. I either lower the setting on the pad or turn it off, leaving the cave there for a while longer just in case they act like they need it.

So, the chicks will be your guide as to how much heat they need. If in doubt, always err on the side of making it too cool. It's not nearly so dangerous as it being too hot.


Crossing the Road
13 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
You are getting pretty good advice so far. But I do disagree on one point. I consider chick TV to be more entertaining and more educational than anything on cable or satellite. Wasted time! Not if you are paying attention. :gig

You do not have to clean their butt unless it gets plugged with dried poop. That’s called pasty butt and can be fatal. There are different opinions on what causes it and what can cure it, but it’s normally something that only happens in the first few days after hatch. Yours should be over the highest danger from that but it’s still possible. Some dried poop on the down back there is not a big deal but if the vent looks plugged you should soak it and remove it.

It sounds like you are brooding yours in the house. Lots of people do and in some ways it is easier, but they make dust, can be noisy, and if you don’t keep the brooder clean and especially dry, they can smell. You may get to the point that you want them outside. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you get the coop ready for them. They grow really fast and life can get in the way of building a coop.

We are all unique. Your conditions in Florida will be different than mine. My 3’ x 6’ brooder is built into the main coop. Chicks go in there straight from the incubator or post office whether it is heat of summer of below freezing in winter. In the summer it is pretty open but in the winter I wrap it pretty well. One end stays warm but sometimes the far end has ice in it. Even straight from the incubator the chicks can regulate themselves really well as long as they have a place warm enough and a place cool enough.

I suggest you set up a brooder like that inside the house, where one end is warm enough and other areas are cool enough. Inside a climate controlled house that isn’t that hard to do. It’s more challenging outside with the differences in daily highs and nighttime lows. But you don’t have to keep the entire brooder a perfect temperature. Just keep one area warm enough and let the rest cool down. Let them do the work instead of you worrying about it. Besides there is no perfect temperature. If you put a bunch of people in a room some will be warm, some cool, and some just right. Chicks are like that too. Some prefer it cooler or warmer than others.

Let your chicks tell you how you are doing. If they line up as far from the heat source as they can get, they are too hot. Panting is a bad sign. If they are huddled as close as they can get to the heat, it is too cool. They’ll probably be doing a plaintive peeping too. That is an unmistakable distress peep that is east to recognize, quite different to their normal peeping. Don’t be misled if they sleep in a pile relatively close to the heat source. They are flock animals, they like sleeping together. That does not necessarily mean they are cold.

When can chicks go outside? It’s going to vary. Most chicks fully feather out around 4 to 5 weeks of age. Breed can affect that some. A higher protein feed will help them feather out faster, that’s a big reason Starter is normally a higher percentage protein feed than Grower. Growing up where they experience cooler temperatures helps them feather out faster and they just get acclimated to cooler temperatures. I’ve had chicks that grew up in my brooder in colder weather go through nights with no supplemental heat in the mid 20’s Fahrenheit before they were six weeks old. The coop they were in had good breeze protection and good ventilation up high. There were about 20 of them so there were enough they could huddle up and share body heat.

If it had been mid-teens instead of 20’s I might have been more concerned. If they had not been acclimated I’d have been more nervous. I can’t tell you an exact age where they can go out, it will vary. But they are a lot tougher and able to handle the cold much better than many people realize.

If you have electricity in the coop they can go outside today, but since it sounds like you want to handle them you can do that better in the house than outside. Chickens have an instinctive fear of flying predators. If you can set up your brooder where you pick them up from the side instead of from overhead you should have better success taming them.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom