New Chicks --

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by CrotonChickens, Oct 19, 2011.

  1. CrotonChickens

    CrotonChickens Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 23, 2011
    Okay, so we just got 16 baby chicks delivered to us this morning. They are unbelievably adorable but want to make sure we are taking proper care. They are currently in an extra-large dog crage with wire on the bottom (so they can't slip out), hay, some old soft towels and the requisite feeder and waterer. For heat we have a 100 watt red light --- and an old comforter covering part of the crate. The house gets down to 60 degrees at the moment -- how warm do they need to stay and for how long? when can we put them in the garage (no heat, no light, 40's at night currently - we are in the north east). Also, they do seem to be huddling around the lamp for now -- should we watch them to make sure they don't smother each other? so happy but so nervous!!! Thank you!
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    The "book" says 90 degrees first week or so, then dial it back in out weeks.

    The reality is the chicks will tell you if they are too hot or too cold.

    Too hot? They'll avoid the heat lamp circle, stand far away, sometimes panting with wings out. That is dangerous heat!!!! Raise the bulb to lower the temps until the chicks are attracted to the heat circle.

    Too cold? They pile up just within the heat circle. They will not want to leave it. They chirp loudly, which is their way of complaining of the cold. This too is dangerous because if they sleep piled up on top of each other, someone is going to get smothered at the bottom of that pile!!!

    Again, use a thermometer. Lay it on the floor of the pen. That is the actual temp, at the the chick level. This temp is important, but the chick's behavior is far more important as in indicator.

    They can/could be brooded in a garage or barn, I do. But, it doesn't change anything of the above. The temps must be maintained. You'll find that at week 3, they'll want the heat raised up. They will not want it 90F but will prefer it to be 80F. The adage if decreasing the temps 5 degrees per week is fine, but it is just that, a guideline. Watch the chicks. At week 5 begin to ween them off daytime heat. By week 6, they'll be fully feathered and the process of acclimating them to outside temps, night and day can begin. You want them to feather and excessive heat assistance in week 6 and beyond will retard the full feathering potential. Enjoy!! They don't stay little long.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2011
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    BTW, if you find one 100 Watt lamp cannot raise the temps to keep them comfortable, use two such lamps or use a higher wattage bulb. There is more than one way to regulate the heat output. Note my photo below. That's out in the garage, in 30F weather last March. The rack has 3 lamps of 100, 150 and 250 watts. I used whatever combination was necessary to provide the right temps.

  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I agree with Fred. The guidelines are to start in the range of 90 to 95 Fahrenheit the first week and drop the temperature by 5 degrees each week, but those are guidelines, not absolute laws of nature. If you follow that, you should never have a problem, but for many of us, it is more controlled than they need. Different things affect the temperatures that they really need and they can usually get by quite well and thrive at lower temperatures. So start out with the general guideline, but let them tell you if they need it warmer or cooler.

    Something they need in addition to the warmth is to be out of breezes. Putting a draft guard around the brooder is a great idea unless the lower parts of the walls and floor are solid. Wind chill is not good for chicks.

    Another thing I highly recommend is to not try to keep the entire brooder the perfect temperature. I'd go bananas trying to maintain a constant temperature over the entire thing. I keep my brooder in the coop with a draft guard, even though it is inside. I heat one area to the recommended temperature range but allow the far corners to cool off substantially, easily 20 to 30 degrees cooler than the minimum recommended range. And after a couple of weeks, that heated area is a bit above the recommended temperature range. By giving them the option they can find their own comfort zone without being too hot or too cold. I find that they roam all over, only returning to the heat when they need to, which really is not all that often. Having this temperature range helps them get acclimated and promotes proper feather development.

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