My first chicks!! ... got some questions

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Delilahiris, Nov 12, 2011.

  1. Delilahiris

    Delilahiris New Egg

    Nov 1, 2011
    Brockton, MA
    Hi everyone!

    I brought home my new girls 4 days ago! I'm in LOVE!! They are just so cute and my kids are over the moon about them.

    We got three 3 week old red star hens. We named them Flower, Lou Lou, and Agnes. [​IMG]

    I decided to get the chicks for eggs in the spring, not to mention how I read they make great pets, and well... my gardening skills are lacking. I don't have the best green thumb so I'm hoping they will help my organic vegetable garden explode!

    I knew I always wanted chickens but OMG I had no idea I would love them THIS MUCH!! I can't stop checking on them! I found myself waking up at 2 AM or so and feeling compelled to get out of bed and go see them! [​IMG]

    So we are keeping them out in our shed in a large wire dog crate. I have the sides lined with cardboard boxes to keep the heat in and any drafts out. I also put a towel over side (over the top) to also help keep the heat in. The temp has been pretty consistent at about 80 degrees. For the first few days they have been fine and seemed really happy in there. But last night it got really, really cold out. Each time I went in they were all huddled together under the lamp on their perch. I'm not sure of the exact temps but it had to be maybe 20s-30s. We are in Massachussets.

    Anyway, I'm kind of freaking out! I'm super worried about them! How worried should I be about the heat and temp at 3-4 weeks? I know I'm supposed lower the temp each week but should I still be doing that if they seem cold? Should the plan be to wean them off of the heat or make sure and keep them warm?
    During the days it's been high 50's and low 60's. Mostly sunny but yesterday got really rainy and cloudy so in came the cold. I did leave a space heater going for a lil while but that thing heats up the shed TOO MUCH, so I don't like to leave it on.

    Also, is it OK to let them roam around outside in the day in this kind of weather? It's been semi warm but there's definitely a chill to the air and breeze.

    Am I completely freaking out and over thinking this?? I'm sooooo afraid of something happening to them! I love them so much. [​IMG]

    Thanks in advance!


    P.S. Here's the girls!

  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Put a thermometer in there. Basic cheapo outside thermometer type. If they are cold they will chirp to no end.

    Many start chicks at 95 F and reduce temp by 5 degrees per week. At 4 weeks your chicks are fine with 75 F under the lamp. It's best to not have the lamp over entire area. If you set up the lamp to cover half the brooder/cage it leaves area for them to escape the heat if things really heat up. They feather super quick so require less and less supplemental heat.

    To lower heat from lamp you can raise it up or change the wattage of bulb. It's not necessary to use a heat lamp, you can reduce to 100 W bulb or even lower if needed. Being near winter you may want to wait until 5 or 6 weeks before stopping daytime heat, heat at night only. They'll acclimate and feather out to handle a coop with no heat before you know it.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2011
  3. Delilahiris

    Delilahiris New Egg

    Nov 1, 2011
    Brockton, MA
    Thank you so much!

    I do have the lamp positioned in one corner. The crate they are in is HUGE. It's for an extra large dog. So plenty of room to get away/run around. [​IMG] And I got thermometer to go in there a couple days ago. The temp has been around 80-85 most of the time. I noticed that they like to be right under the heat a lot of the time so I've been afraid to decrease it.

    I guess I'm just afraid of doing something wrong and losing them. [​IMG]

  4. I-Have-Happy-Hens

    I-Have-Happy-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 16, 2010
    Carrboro, NC
    Are you sure they are 3 weeks? They look yunger, maybe 2 wks?

  5. ScottyHOMEy

    ScottyHOMEy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 21, 2011
    Waldo County, Maine
    You might try lowering your heat lamp a couple of inches or more for the moment. That will heat things up enough under it that you should see them disperse and break up the huddle. From there, go back to the program of decreasing the heat a little every few days, and on to providing heat only at night or during a cold snap to wean them off of it. You'll find a lot of threads on the subject that will basically advise doing just what you're already doing . . . Don't be a slave to the thermometer, their behavior is a much more reliable indicator.
  6. CarolJ

    CarolJ Dogwood Trace Farm

    Jun 3, 2011
    Middle Tennessee
    As long as they have a warm place to return to (under the lamp) and a cool place to go to (away from the lamp), they should be okay. If they huddle under the heat lamp all the time, then they're too cold - lower the lamp or increase the wattage. Chicks are amazingly adaptable - but they do need enough warmth until they are completely feathered. Good luck! I was the same way (checking on them constantly) when I first had chicks. They are funny creatures! Just wait until they get older - I could sit outside and just watch them for hours! It's fascinating to watch their interactions and behaviors. As I said - funny creatures.
  7. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 6, 2011
    Pacific North West
    How Exciting!! [​IMG]
    85 degrees this week 80 degrees week 2 75 degrees week 3 and drop by 5 degrees until week 7 and they will be ready to go out and you will be ready for them to go out. smile [​IMG]

    Put a little sand and DE food grade diatomaceous earth 10 lbs of sand 2 lbs of DE in a tub or a box cut down or turkey pan or? They will love it!!


    [​IMG] to the BYC
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2011
  8. Delilahiris

    Delilahiris New Egg

    Nov 1, 2011
    Brockton, MA
    @ Happy Hens - yes definitely 3 weeks. They are exactly 3 weeks old today in fact. [​IMG]

    @ Steve - Are they ready to have a dust bath now? As in putting it in the brooder? Do you know if the DE is sold in the regular feed store? I have been wondering about that.

    Thank so much for your help, everyone! Greatly appreciated [​IMG]
  9. hcppam

    hcppam Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:Agree with CarolJ [​IMG]
  10. hollyk

    hollyk Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 21, 2008
    Canton, Texas
    If you are going to be with them, I would take them outside. I take my chicks out so they can scratch and such, but I never leave them as they will be food for something too quick. The chicks are the best thing ever! Good luck on the gardening, that is why I got mine to begin with. Started with 3 and soon grew to several dozen. I have 25 EE's in the brooder now along with 10 Polish and 17 hens in the hen house. Be careful, the chicken bug may run amuck with you also![​IMG]

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