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Young chickens acclimating to the cold...

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Gardenlady2, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. Gardenlady2

    Gardenlady2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 17, 2013
    I have 12 chickens that are 6 and a half weeks old. They are pretty well feathered out. They have been outside in a coop for 2 and a half weeks with a heat lamp. The coop is almost completely open on the south side (except for a strip of nest boxes 18" off the ground). The coop does not have a floor, so they are running around in the grass. I have a large shallow plastic tub in there with pine shavings that they sleep in. One edge of it is located under a 250w heat lamp that is approx 20-24 inches above the ground. Over the past week they have spent several days without the heat lamp during the day, only used once the sun went down. The daytime temps ranged from upper 30s to upper 60s during this time. I unplugged the lamp yesterday morning - temps in mid 50s. Last night I did not turn the lamp back on because the low was 50 degrees, so they have not had the heat lamp since yesterday morning. Tonight it is supposed to drop down to 34 degrees....

    Do you think it's okay to leave them without the heat lamp tonight?

    Then tomorrow night is supposed to get down to 19.....so I'm thinking I should turn it on for tomorrow night.

    I know once full grown, they will be perfectly fine at these temps. I'm just concerned about them not being acclimated yet to the cold without a heat source. Of course there are 12 of them, so they sleep huddled together for the most part and will help keep each other warm.

    Thanks for any advice!
     
  2. jetdog

    jetdog Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There still pretty small I put mine out when they were 8 weeks and had the heat light on out there for a couple more weeks, probably to over cautious but after having gone through all the inconvenience of having them in the house I wanted them to be as comfortable as possible.
     
  3. Gardenlady2

    Gardenlady2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 17, 2013
    Thanks! I know what you mean about the inconvenience.....those cute smelly messy things lived in and dusted up my basement for 4 weeks and I went through the heartache of loosing 3 of them along the way already. I'd hate to lose more because I took a gamble on their ability to handle the weather at this stage.

    Well, I ended up turning on the heat lamp around 6:30. It had already been dark for about an hour and a half. The coop is near the house and we've kept the patio light on at night to help deter predators since our fence isn't finished yet. When I plugged in the heat lamp at the house, I looked out and didn't see any chickens in the "bed" in the coop. I walked out there with some food for them, and when I got to the door of the coop I saw them: all 12 huddled almost on top of each other at the southeast corner - the closest they could get to the light coming from the house. It was so cute and so pitiful at the same time! I'm glad I ended up turning on the lamp. I don't know if they would have moved back to the bedding tub if I hadn't....and those little guys on the cold ground with no bedding underneath them in 34 degree windy weather probably wouldn't turn out very well :-(. Last night we didn't use the heat lamp so it was dark for the first time for them, but my husband checked on them with a flashlight late in the evening and they were all in the "bed" then, so I'm not sure what the deal was tonight?

    These birds are so entertaining and amusing, and managed to get me attached to them even though some will likely end up on my dinner table. Now that I have chickens I can't imagine not having them :)
     
  4. jetdog

    jetdog Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had mine in a plastic tub I the dinning room and I know what you mean about dust, wife was not to happy but we got very attached to them as well so when they went outside we were very paranoid about them being warm and secure.Good luck with your birds.
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    SO long as they do not resort to piling up they should do just fine. It is the piling business that you must be careful about and that becomes important with groups larger than 12 (upper 20's for me) and when they roost in tight confines.
     
  6. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    There are "in between" steps you can take. I do. I ween them down off the 250watt bulb down to a 100watt bulb and then nothing. I've even stepped down to a 60 watt for a few nights if it seemed appropriate. It doesn't have to be the all or nothing scenario.
     
  7. Gardenlady2

    Gardenlady2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the tip about stepping down the bulb wattage! I don't remember seeing red 100w bulbs when I bought the 250, but I'll look around for them tomorrow. I'm wanting to stick with the red bulb since it's not as bright.

    My husband and I let them out of the coop to free-range for the first time today for about an hour and they seemed to love it! Temps were in the upper 30s and they seemed just fine, probably because it was a sunny day and they only get small patches of sunlight inside the coop. Also did not use the heat lamp during the day today, so they are doing well with the cold temps, which makes me think your idea of stepping down the bulb wattage is the way to go.
     
  8. Gardenlady2

    Gardenlady2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 17, 2013
    Well, I left them without any heat last night with a low of 30 degrees. Convinced myself that they have to grow up sometime and that the heat is likely doing more harm than good at this point. I haven't gone out there yet today, but from looking out the window I see several walking around, eating, and pecking at the ground, so they made it!!!! Tonight is supposed to be colder at 21 but I think I'll just keep the heat off. I think going back and forth between extremes is more harmful than just the cold. The chickens are clearly tougher than I am :)
     
  9. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Personally, that would be a bit nippy for 6.5 week old chicks. There's nothing wrong with supplementing, just taking the edge off the bitter cold, until they are 8 weeks old. At that point, they'll be bigger, stronger, more fully fluffed and able to fend for themselves on the bitter cold nights.

    The little supplemental heat can come from a white/grey, regular, old fashioned incandescent bulb. It need not be red. Just "borrow" a 60 or 75 watt bulb from a closet or garage somewhere and use it, at night, for another week to 10 days. The aluminum shield of the brooder lamp will make a neat spot for them. I usually hang it about 18 inches off the floor.

    This doesn't provide a ton of "heat", but will take the edge off.
     
  10. Gardenlady2

    Gardenlady2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They are a day over 7 weeks now. I didn't think the regular bulbs had the same size base as the heat bulbs? Will the white light all night long mess with their sleeping?

    Here they are yesterday "helping" me refill their feeder:

    [​IMG]
     

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