If you have enough chicks do you need a heat lamp?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Delmar, May 21, 2011.

  1. Delmar

    Delmar Chillin' With My Peeps

    I was thinking that since they are able to ship day old chicks by putting enough of them in there, it should be possible to safely brood chicks without a heat lamp if you have more than a dozen or so. Am I wrong?
  2. Nicole01

    Nicole01 Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 28, 2011
    Yes, they need a lamp for at least the first 4 weeks until they are mostly feathered. They get chilled very easily.
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    The hatcheries pack them just so, with little room to move around between the straw, the bottom of the box and the top. There's a reason for that; less chance of a pile up because they can't move around much and less chance of the ones on the bottom being smothered to death. Still happens, just less chance. Also, it keeps them close together for warmth.

    Unless you could raise chicks in a brooder the size and shape of a hatchery shipping box - which you couldn't of course - you couldn't expect to duplicate the same conditions.

    Edited for clarity, but it IS 7 o'clock in the morning! [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Surviving a two day shipping is one thing. A brooder is another altogether.

    Yes, you'll have to maintain an environment of near 90F for a week or two, followed by an environment of 80F for a week or two. Of course, being too cold is bad, but being too hot is potentially deadly as well. The weather this time of year works for you, not against you.
  5. chickensbythesea

    chickensbythesea Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 1, 2011
    Gritsar nailed it. Don't try it, there's not really any way I see that ending well. Even if it's in the 90s where you are, it won't be consistent, especially day/night fluctuations. You could probably achieve the right temp with a much lower wattage though.

    I think the best way to think about it is that even if a hen hatched out a dozen plus, she'd still keep them under her/allow them under her when they want extra warmth.
  6. Delmar

    Delmar Chillin' With My Peeps

    but it seems like, even under the heat lamp, they regulate their own temp to some degree. I have the heat lamp on a dimmer switch. If I turn it up a bit to high they go to the other end of the brooder and spread out. If I set it lower, they crowd together under the lamp.
  7. Delmar

    Delmar Chillin' With My Peeps

    Fred's Hens :

    ...but being too hot is potentially deadly as well...

    That is the thing I was worried about. When Mrs Delmar first hooked up the heat lamp, it wasn't long before they were panting and looking hot. So I got out the dimmer switch. I think it works pretty well.​
  8. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:The key is to find the right balance. You want them comfortably spread out around the brooder, sometimes under the heat lamp, sometimes not; running in and out of it's range. You do this by adjusting your heat lamp set-up, not by expecting the chicks to adjust to it.

    I have very young chicks out with broodies. They rarely go under her during the day. The run around and play, in the shade, in the sun; but buddy when they need that heat, they do a dive under mama.
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
  9. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2011
    I had noticed that my broody hatched chicks were never under her during the day. We've had temps ranging from the high 50s to near 90 and they're out scratching around in all kinds of weather, nasty and nice. About the only time they actually are under her is at night. At 2 weeks old they started roosting with the big birds, which is saying something because my roosts are about 8 feet high. So- I decided to try to raise my hatchery chicks in a more "natural" way. I put them in an outside hutch at 2.5 weeks. They have a heat lamp with a 60 watt bulb to simulate their broody. During the day, I turn the lamp off. Then I turn it back on at night, just as my broody is doing with her chicks (they hatched 2 days earlier than my hatchery chicks). The hatchery chicks are doing fabulous outside. They are 4 weeks old today and are turning into beautiful little birds. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is, they will need some heat. However, chicks are alot stronger than us humans give them credit for. My chicks that are with my broody scratch around in the pouring rain all day, and yes they do need mama to keep them warm at night. They are some tough little suckers, and this may be a great alternative for you instead of brooding them in your house. I think the only thing I would have done differently was I would have moved the hatchery chicks outside earlier. Good luck!
  10. epeloquin

    epeloquin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 11, 2011
    Western Massachusetts
    I had my brooder set up with the heat lamp toward one corner. The way I set it up the light did not heat the entire box. This enabled the chicks to get as warm/cool as they wanted to. After about 3 - 3 1/2 weeks we began to turn the light off at night and last night (they are now 4 1/2 weeks) was their first night in their coop. The fact is they'll let you know if they're too hot or too cool.

    But I would definitely not go completely w/o the heat lamp.

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