New chick questions

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Arkantex, Nov 8, 2011.

  1. Arkantex

    Arkantex Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 17, 2011
    West Texas
    So, I have 10 chicks ordered to show up november 21st or 22nd. The temps are just starting to get colder. We have had a few nights were it got to the freezing point, and high durring the day has been anywhere from 45 deg f to 75 deg f. I was wondering if some of you guys that have had chicks in the colder months could pipe in and kind of help me with a game plan.

    I can tell you this, since this is our first batch of chicks, we are going to brood them out in the coop. Probably put a large appliance box in there with a heat lamp and probably a small space heater.
  2. fiddlebanshee

    fiddlebanshee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 11, 2010
    Frederick, MD
    Í've raised 14 chicks since September in the coop with comparable temps that you mention. Just make sure you keep the temp up for the first week to about 90 degrees, then lower by five degrees every week and then from five weeks on acclimatise them to the cooler temps by lowering the temp every week by an increasing number of degrees. Mine are now 7 weeks and without any heat.

    With a space heater in a coop please be extra careful to avoid fires. I'd be worried about that. Also please fasten the heatlamp in at least two, independent of each other, ways. If one fails, the other will prevent the lamp falling on the chicks and burning them/starting a fire. Use your common sense but don't take anything for granted. The clamp on most heatlamps will NOT adequately keep it from falling. Fasten it with chains and hooks.
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    It is more challenging, but can easily be done. Have multiple heat lamps, with various wattages, on a bar across your brooder or hung above them. This allows you to provide them the proper warmth. You can run as many bulbs and any combination as needed. Temps can and will swing from 20 to 70. Chicks self regulate. If they need more heat, they'll gravitate toward the heat "circle", and away from it if they are too warm.

    Some brooder boxes look similar to large shipping crates, complete with hinged tops. I like these because a top holds the heat in a bit. Use your imagination and creativity. Just make sure the box is huge. Three reasons. The chicks need space to adjust to heat, to and away. Crowding creates boredom and pecking issues, and finally, chicks grow at an astounding rate. They go from day old chicks to full grown size in just 16 weeks.

    Last edited: Nov 8, 2011
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I don't know how you are planning to set it up, but be very careful to not start a fire. Very careful.

    I have not started them in quite those temperatures, but it has been down in the upper 40's not long after I started them and I brood in the coop. I have a fairly large brooder. 3' x 5', and keep only one area in the correct temperature range. The rest is allowed to cool down to ambient. When I hatch chicks and put them in there, I find that they tend to stay around the heat for a day or two, then start running all over. With shipped chicks, they seem to start running all over a lot sooner, probably because they are a day or so older. I don't try to keep the entire brooder the perfect temperature. Outside with the changing temperatures that would drive me crazy trying. I'm sure I could not do it. I do think they are better off with that variety of temperature too, helping them get acclimated. So I heat one area to the "right" temperatures and let the rest cool off. That way they can find their comfort zone in case the heated area gets too warm. You might be surprised how little time they actually spend in the warmer zones.

    One thing you need to be careful of is wind chill. Make sure they are not in a draft. I put a draft guard around the lower 12" or so of mine to make sure. I use a piece of plastic that you would use as a paint drop cloth for mine.

    If yours does cool off away from the heat source, you might want to put a temporary barrier around the heat the first day or two to keep them near it until they learn where the heat is. But make sure it is high enough that they cannot jump out and get stuck away from the heat.

    I also have plenty of ventilation up high in my brooder. I'm a believer in keeping the wind off of them but make sure they have fresh air to breathe.

    I suggest you set it up well ahead of time and try it out. Put a thermometer on the bottom of the brooder and see what temperatures you get in various areas under different conditions. They do need a warm place to go to, but the entire thing does not need to be "warm".

    Depending on what your coop looks like, size and draft free, you might not even need a brooder all that long since you don't have any adults in there. If you coop is pretty well protected against drafts, especially on the ground level, you might consider letting them out of the brooder earlier than we normally do, just heating an area for them to go to.

    Raising them the way I do, I had 5-1/2 week olds in my grow-out pen with no heat but good draft protection when temperatures got down into the mid-20's. They were already acclimated and there were 14 of them, so they could help keep each other warm.

    Here is what my set-up looks like. That top is because I have adults in there and I want to keep them away from the heat lamp. With my first batch, that top was not there, just wire.

  5. GardenState38

    GardenState38 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2011
    You may also want to invest in one of the more safety-conscious methods of providing heat: a Brinsea EcoGlow brooder and/or a waterproof heat pad (typically used for outdoor doghouses in the winter.)
    I can't say enough good things about the EcoGlow--i used one for my chicks and it was perfect.
  6. Arkantex

    Arkantex Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 17, 2011
    West Texas
    Well I was thinking about using a refrigerator box on its side. The space heater I am thinking about using is an electric one with overheat protection and I would hang it from the ceiling from some chain.
  7. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 6, 2011
    Pacific North West
    Well I was thinking about using a refrigerator box on its side. The space heater I am thinking about using is an electric one with overheat protection and I would hang it from the ceiling from some chain.

    [​IMG] PERFECT!! 85 degrees week 1, 80 degrees week 2 and 5 degrees each week there after until fully feathered. After 4 weeks take them outside in the days to play a bit. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011
  8. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Just remember that heat rises. Putting a heater above them won't do much. I've put an oil heater under brooder in the past. They are reasonably safe and having the heater below the brooder means the heat rises and heats the floor of the brooder, right where they sleep. Still, I use heat lamps beaming down from above. I've brooded in 30 degree ambient temperatures. It just costs more due to the electric usage.

    I would NOT use an electric heater with exposed heating elements. Those are too dangerous for me, over-heating device or not. FWIW.
  9. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    I use a watermelon box I got from a grocery store. It works great.


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