Newbie Needs Advice!!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by lori9878, May 26, 2010.

  1. lori9878

    lori9878 Hatching

    Feb 19, 2010
    McDonald County, Missouri

    I picked up my babies from the post office yesterday morning! I have a total of 17 (I only ordered 15, but got extras!) in a homemade brooder. I'm keeping them in a quiet corner of my garage until they're big enough to go to the coop. My problem is with temperature control. I have a heat light on them, but I think it's been getting too hot under it during the day. I have two thermometers--one fixed to the wall of the brooder about 2 inches off the floor, and one that is hung near the light about 2 inches from the floor. Well, the outdoor temps have been getting into the 80's and in the garage it gets quite a bit warmer. The thermometers got up to over 100 degrees yesterday afternoon, so I raised the light. I finally got the heated area to stay around 95 degrees consistently. I checked them until about midnight last night (actually fell asleep in the chair out there for a while, lol), then went to bed. This morning at 5AM when I went out there, I was HORRIFIED--the thermometers read in the 80's, and all my babies were huddled together--one was off all by itself, and I was afraid it was a goner, but it perked right up when I moved it to the light.

    So, now I'm super-paranoid about the temp in the brooder, and I'm making hourly trips out there to check--and adjust the light as needed.

    My husband suggested that I just leave the light in the lower ("nighttime") position, and trust the chicks to move where they are comfortable. They have lots of room to spread out if they want to.

    My own theory is that I'll need to come up with a "daytime" and "nighttime" arrangement and adjust as needed for changing weather and outdoor temperatures. Which of us has the best idea?

    I was so confident when I started this, now I feel like I have no clue what I'm doing!!! I'm very much in love with my new babies and I want them to be safe and comfortable! Any advice is appreciated!
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    I keep my chicks in the a room in the basement is where my brooder is, until they don't need a heat lamp anymore. That way you don't need to worry temperature control so much.
  3. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I'm a proponent of KISS, keeping it simple, silly. (Or other words to that effect.) If the chicks have plenty of room to self-regulate their own heat, set that heat lamp in ONE position and leave it be. Move it higher next week, and the week after, and the week after, etc. but don't mess with it more than once a day, IF THAT. Do make sure it is securely held in whatever position you select!!!

    Also, I've found that all of my chicks have been more comfortable about 5 degrees cooler than the "standard suggested" heat table of 95 for first week, 90 for second, and so on and so forth. Maybe mine have just been odd, but it's been that way with every small batch of 4 to 6 chicks. I also do NOT obsess about thermometer readings; as a matter of fact, after the first time, I chucked that sucker away. I gauge the temperature by the chicks' behavior.

    Too hot is bad, as is too cold. There's a whole lotta middle ground to make 'em comfy. If they cluster under the light, they need it. If they get as far away from it as they can, they are too hot. If they mill about in loose congregation, occasionally moving away, and moving back towards the light, it's perfect. Huddled, cheeping chicks are too cold. Panting chicks with wings held slightly away from their bodies are too warm.

    P.S. - I was a newbie in October, 2009 - so I totally understand your anxiety! Just relax, this will be fine. [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 26, 2010
  4. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    I think either approach would work. I myself would be more concerned about over heating in your situation; I'd want to be very sure that there was a cooler area in my brooder that the chicks can retreat to during the day.

    This year I have hens raising chicks, and I've observed that chicks do not need constant temperatures. I noticed sometimes that one of my hens would ignore the peeping of a cold chick for quite a while before she sat down to warm them, all with no ill effects. When I think of how I agonized last spring over keeping the temperatures in my brooder constant, I can only shake my head and laugh at myself a bit. Chicks are actually pretty resilient little critters.
  5. acid_chipmunk

    acid_chipmunk Polish Silkies d'Uccles O my!

    Mar 29, 2010
    I actually turn mine off during the day when it is really hot out. Yes they have a lot of room to get away from it, but it still keeps the brooder warm. I hate seeing them all sprawled out because they are so hot. I haven't had any problems turning it off. I always make sure to turn it back on overnight though and keep it on until about 10 am, when it starts getting really warm.
  6. lori9878

    lori9878 Hatching

    Feb 19, 2010
    McDonald County, Missouri
    Thanks for the responses! My babies are doing well today, and now that I know what to expect at night, I'm not as nervous anymore. I've got a much better idea now of where everything needs to be, and the chicks are really good about moving where they are most comfortable. I think it's just "new mom" jitters. I was the same way when I had my first baby!!

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