Weaning off brooder light

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ChickPeas, May 4, 2008.

  1. ChickPeas

    ChickPeas Songster

    Mar 17, 2008
    Iron Station, NC
    My crew of 11 are about 7 weeks old. Right now they are on a screened in porch in a baby pool covered with a tarp. The pool is surrounded by welded wire about 3 feet high. It's only the bottom half of the porch that is not screened.

    At any rate, the chicks are in the pool overnight from about 8pm to about 6:30a when we let them out in a temporary pen in the backyard til their coop is finished.

    My question is this...how long do they need their brooder light? Right now it's a 75 watt bulb...temps at night are now in the mid 50's...daytime temp in the upper 70's.

    I've tried turning off their light but they get real whiny and pile up on each other. I don't want to over heat them of course, but I don't want them to be dependent on the light either.

    They are all over the pool at night, not crowded together under the light, nor out on the perimeter to get away from it. They all seem comfy..until it goes off, then all he** breaks lose.

    Any ideas?
  2. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

    Mar 20, 2008
    NW Kentucky
    They are not ready yet. At 7 weeks old they need 65-70 degree temps in the brooder...without the light it may be a bit cold for them. They will not fully feather until 8 - 10 weeks. Give them a little more time with their light. [​IMG]
  3. damselfish

    damselfish Songster

    Mar 8, 2008
    Southwest Missouri
    Hi, ours are just over 10 weeks old now, and we had the same problem a few weeks ago when we first tried turning their light off for the night.

    Ours wasn't a temperature problem, clearly a fear problem as they would immediately start piling up in the corner as soon as we switched it off, screaming their heads off.

    We didn't want them to hurt themselves, so we went to a small worklight, then a lower wattage flourescent light, then to a light sensor nightlight, and now nothing. I don't know if the fear is just something they get over as they age or if the progression thru different light levels helped.

    But anyway, our nighttime temps were in the 40s, non-insulated but good tight draft-free coop and they did fine without the 250W heat lamp from about 7 weeks on, though we did have the lights as noted above (the worklight generated some heat), and very thick layer of shavings on the floor. 17 birds, 8x8 coop.

    Hope this helps.
  4. WillsMama93

    WillsMama93 Songster

    Mar 23, 2008
    Shreveport, La
    I don't want to cause any ripples by any means, and I must say from the begining of this post that I have only had chicks since Easter, so I am no pro at this either, but my bantie chicks are in the brooder in my bedroom without a heat lamp. My oldest chicks are 6 weeks, and the others are 4 weeks. At night, I cover the wire portion of the brooder with an old tablecloth, so as to keep them from being directly under the air vents at night, and to proide them with some "dark time" to signal it's time for bed. They have done wonderfully with this set-up, and they all sleep on the perch peacefully for most of the night.
    My two week old chicks are in a seperate brooder, still with the lamp, but last night, we raised the lamp about 6 inches, to give them a little cooler temp in the brooder.
    It's what has worked for us, so far. Just my two cents.
  5. hinkjc

    hinkjc Crowing

    Jan 11, 2007
    I just want to add that suddenly flipping the light off does not go well and they are very afraid. The best approach I have found is to let them experience natural daylight declining. Meaning..put them somewhere where they have sunlight (without a lamp) and let them go to bed as the sun goes down. I do this when they are being weaned off the full light and it works well. They notice it is getting darker and snuggle up to get ready for bed. Yes, some are still cry babies about it, but not nearly as bad as sudden darkness.

    BTW..I just moved 11 weekers outside without any additional heat source. I wanted to get them out sooner, but the temps have been jumping all over the place. I am confident they will be just fine and adjust well. I checked on them at dusk and they were snuggled up next to their feeder ready for bed and no crying at all for their first night of darkness.

    Last edited: May 4, 2008
  6. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    I use two lights in my brooder:

    A red heat lamp
    A small white incandescent

    Chicks arent too bright in the beginning, but are attracted to white light. The incandescent is affixed over the food and water to attract them to it for the first week.

    After that, the white lights are turned off at night with only the red bulb for heat. By a few weeks, my chicks are accustomed to the lights going off at night and so bed down readily.

    The rule of thumb for heat is to start them at 95 degrees F and reduce by five degrees a week thereafter until you reach room temp...
    This is called hardening off.
    This means that by 4-5 five weeks they shouldn't need any extra heat and can be moved to outside quarters where the hardening off process continues towards 8 weeks.
  7. DuckyBoys

    DuckyBoys Songster

    Apr 2, 2008
    Quote:It probably depends on the outside temp as well. I had to put two 250 watt heat lamps out in our barn brooder for my 4 week olds (ducks and geese though) because it was nasty cold, windy, and snowy a few days ago. We dipped in the 20's there for a few days. I have to leave one side of the barn open for my donkeys so the wind can whip right through there. The heat lamps make me feel better.

    Generally speaking though, I think you're right on target. Most of the time they don't want to be right under the lamp but off at a distance.

    Hopefully the weather will continue to improve because I have more new baby ducks and geese coming this week. [​IMG]
  8. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    Oh absolutley. In none of this is common sense to be tossed out the window. I expect most will have a measure of it.

    You must always be mindful that they have a hard shell of outer feathers covering their downy interior plumes. The hardening off process only continues outside, it doesn't abruptly end until they are fully feathered.
    This usually occurs at around 8-10 weeks.
  9. seafood

    seafood Songster

    Feb 12, 2008
    I preface this by stating that I am only 7 weeks into our first chicken experience. But here are my thoughts and experience so far.

    This is a very common question with I think has a very simple answer. I think lots of folks “baby” their chickens…and that’s OK. There is nothing wrong with that but more times than not I think we humans overdo it a bit.

    I took the light off my chicks a few days ago. It is down into the low 50’s and high 40’s at night. All 10 of my 7 week olds seem perfectly fine. They were all on their roosts and content last night when I checked them around 9pm.

    I said this before and really believe it. If a mama hen had a clutch of 10 chicks…there is NO way she could sit on all 10 at the age of 7 weeks. Two maybe!

    If you want to keep a light on them still at night…great…go for it. If you don’t…super…go for it. In the end I think they are a lot tougher than we give them credit for. Plus I know my electric bill appreciates it.
  10. ChickPeas

    ChickPeas Songster

    Mar 17, 2008
    Iron Station, NC
    Thanks for all the input everyone! I'm one of those ppl that babies their animals..it breaks my heart to see them huddled up frightened bc it's darker in the enclosure then it was before. (blush)

    I think I'll give them another week or so and then I'll gradually lessen the light until they get used to being in the "dark" (light filtered darkness).

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