New baby chicks with some questions.

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by masonsmom, Jun 19, 2010.

  1. masonsmom

    masonsmom In the Brooder

    Jun 18, 2010
    So I just got my first baby chicks yesterday from the local feed store. There are 7 of them aprox 1 week old. I have been using an old snake cage (well cleaned and free of snakes for months) as their first home. It is about 4 feet long, 2 feet deep and 2.5 feet high with a glass front. (This being the safest place with the cat who hasn't left their side and 3 year old!) I bought a 250 watt red light like the ones at the feed store. The problem is this seems to be making it too hot for them (ranging in the mid 90s on the hot side and low 90s on the cool side) The babies are almost always on the cool side. I just unplugged it to try a 65 watt white light to see if that doesn't help bring the temp down some. My concern is, this is all "air" temp not like a basking area. Exactly how hot should this be? Whats safe, what isn't? I had read that the chicks will let you know. I don't see any signs of them being too hot, except that they are always on the cooler side. (I am considering to open one side of the cage and put up "chicken" wire to allow more air flow and cooler temps as time goes on.

    Also, is it okay to start giving them any kid of treats? Worms, meals worms etc? How about other things? I have them on pine pellets which they are already rolling around in and "crumbling" a bit. Whats the scoop on grits? Should they already have some?

    We are truly loving these little guys. I am already starting to see their individual personalities. How long can they be away from their heated environment (staying inside!) when we begin handling them more? So far we are just sitting next to the cage and allowing them to get used to us, tho a few of them are beginning to slowly venture out to us!

    [​IMG] Heres a picture of our new little ones!

    Thanks so much! I look forward to this adventure and can already tell there is a wealth of information here that I am taking in!
  2. teamr10

    teamr10 In the Brooder

    Jun 13, 2010
    I'm new to this too and don't have answers for you, but your little flock is awfully cute! Congrats, enjoy, and good luck finding the answers you need.
  3. NewHen

    NewHen Songster

    Mar 16, 2010
    Los Angeles
    If they seem to be panting or have their beaks open, it's too hot. If they are bunching away from the lamp, they're too hot. If they are staying bunched up under the heat lamp, they're too cold. They should be fairly dispersed in the brooder.
  4. pkw

    pkw Songster

    May 14, 2010
    North Edwards, CA
    Your chicks are very cute.

    I have some chicks that hatched out last Saturday and all I have in their brooder is a 60W black bulb and they don't have feathers but yet they don't seem cold with that light. I tried using my 250 W red bulb but they stayed as far away from that as they could even though I had it up pretty high from them.

    I think since it is summer and hot in most of the country that you could get by with a smaller bulb for your chicks. I don't use white bulbs because I heard that causes picking so that is why I am using a black bulb (casts a pretty purple light for the chicks).

    I could see using a 250 W red bulb if it was really cold out.

    I don't know about treats. You should be fine to pick them up for a few minutes.
  5. madrona

    madrona In the Brooder

    Dec 3, 2009
    Hi, masonsmom - I'm new to this forum, but not new to chickens. Chicks get by beautifully with WAY less heat than the prescribed brooding temperatures. Think in terms of how you'd handle a very tiny new kitten or puppy: you'd keep it cozy, out of drafts... but you wouldn't feel like it had to be next to a heater every single second. I've successfully raised batches of vigorous chickens, and have never had a brooder or heat light. Chickens are really good at communicating their status: if they get cold, they huddle up together. If that doesn't warm them up enough, they complain, loudly. If they're making happy little noises and running around their pen, they're not cold.

    My latest batch of chicks are 11 days old now, and they get a hot water bottle at night. Otherwise, they're on their own in natural light, either inside at around 65 degrees, or out in the sun at the same temperature. They bounce around like little popcorn kernels, and scratch stuff out of the grass, and take little dust baths, and generally thrive.

    Personally, I've always believed that since chickens are so sensitive to day length and to light, it's best to raise chicks in natural daylight and darkness. The idea of putting them under a light 24 hours a day just seems so wrong to me.
  6. write2caroline

    write2caroline Songster

    Jun 21, 2009
    I let my broody hatch chicks this past May and for most of the day they were running around the yard with her and only climbing in her feathers when they were cold or when she sat down. I have to agree that constant heat is not always necessary. Maybe the first couple of days but they do work together when they are cold.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Being too hot is more dangerous than being too cool. If yours are staying away from the heat source, then it is too hot. The recommended temperature range is between 90 and 95 degrees Fahrenhiet for the first week and drop it 5 degrees a week until they fully feather out, which is probably 4 to 5 weeks of age. That 2' x 4' brooder is a nice size for 7 chicks, but I think it needs a lot more ventilation. That will help a lot.

    I suggest keeping one corner of your brooder in the recommended range but allow the rest to cool off much more. My set-up is different from yours, but I kept mine in a 3'x5' brooder, mostly wire but with a draft guard, in the coop. I kept one area in the recommended temperature range but allowed the rest to cool off. One corner was as low as 70 degrees. They pretty much stayed under the heat source for the first couple of days, but after that they were roaming all over, coming back to warm up when they wanted to.

    If you give them treats they need grit. If all they eat is the starter feed, they don't need grit, but for practically everthing else, they do need it. I like to offer grit free choice from the time they are about 3 days old, although I don't give treats until much later. I think it helps set their digestive system up to work the way it is supposed to and possibly helps prevent pasty butt. Besides, in the coop, I never know when a hard shelled bug, a chicken feather, a wood shaving, or something else will get eaten that they need help digesting to get it through their system. I wait until day three so they know what their main food is. They may pig out on the grit but don't worry. They'll be OK.

    You can sometimes get chick grit at the feed store, but often not. You can get parakeet grit at a pet store, but watch the calcium. Some of theparakeet grit has a lot of calcium which is bad for a growing chick's liver. You can use construction sand, which is a coarse sand with different sizes. The play sand is too fine and rounded to be much good as grit but it is better than nothing. If you have a gravel road or driveway, you can gather sand and tiny pebbles and use that, but if the road or drive was salted for ice, don't do this. They can't handle the extra salt.

    You can start handling them now. As others mentioned, when a hen raises them, they roam all over in very cool temperatures and come back to her to get warm as they need to. They are a lot more adaptable than many people give them credit for. Just keep them out of drafts and give them a warm place to go back to to warm up and they will do fine.
  8. masonsmom

    masonsmom In the Brooder

    Jun 18, 2010
    Thanks guys for all the help! I did remove the 250 watt heat lamp and put in a 65 watt white light, which brought the temp down and the chicks seem much more happy! They are move active now and I feel less worried! I will also be working on a way to leave one side open to allow more air flow. I had not really thought about it getting too hot - I was so worried about keeping them warm!

    I'll be finding them some grit this afternoon! We will also be taking them out of their cage today and handling them. They already seem so eager to be coming out. When we open the doors now a few of them will jump up on the side and say hello. In fact one of them jumped right up into my sons lap last night!

    I'm sure a lot of you have cats. Do most cats calm down and stop harassing them so much? How about when they are grown? Ideally I'd like to allow the chicken to free range when we are outside (tucked away when we are not) but we do have a decent feral cat population out here. My own cat goes outside very rarely and usually only when we are out. The threat of coyotes is high! So how big of a threat do cats become?

    Thanks again for the help!
  9. makin3

    makin3 Hatching

    May 2, 2010
    mimi from new jersey I to am new at this my chicks were born 5/1/10 8 hens 6 rosters it is going to be hard to get rid of my rosters. good luck with your chicks
  10. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    I think your cat concerns depend on the cat and the age of the chickens. If you have a young cat that seems really interested in the chicks, you may have to keep them separate at least until the chickens are fully grown. Chickens can get a really bad infection from a cat scratch and die quickly so you want to avoid that chance. Cats are not really as domesticated as dogs so if you can't keep em separated, the chickens need to be big enough to scare them away or fly away.

    As far as handling, you can go to my page to see what I do. My chicks are 6 wks old and jump up in my lap when I sit outside with them for cuddling. (They also like to snuggle with my collie, too!)

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