Temperature is vital to the survival of small chicks. They will need a heat source and a breeze barrier to help stabilize their environment. Monitor temperature with a thermometer at the level of the chicks. Chicks that huddle under a lamp are too cold. Chicks that sprawl along the brooder guard are too hot. Chicks happily milling around all portions of the brooder area are comfortable.
Brooding area should be 95°F for the first few days. Slowly acclimate your chicks to a cooler temperature by reducing each week:
Acclimate your chicks by reducing temperature weekly:
95°F for chicks 0 - 1 week old
90°F for chicks 1 - 2 weeks old
85°F for chicks 2 - 3 weeks old
80°F for chicks 3- 4 weeks old
75°F for chicks 4 - 5 weeks old
65°F - 70°F for 5 – 6 week-olds
Stater Pullets prefer 65°F - 75°F
At 6 - 7 weeks introduce to outside when above 50°F.
At 8 - 10 weeks can be acclimated outside when above 32°F
At 11 - 15 weeks can be acclimate outside when above 0°F
4+ Month old hens can handle -20°F when adequate shelter is provided. Chickens need a coop with other flock mates as each chicken generates 35 BTUs of heat for group warmth.
If you are not hatching chicks with a broody hen, the right brooder will provide the chicks with the correct environment. Take the mess out of raising chicks and improve safety by renting or purchasing our complete flock starter kit including brooder and everything needed to raise from chicks to outside ages. There are so many benefits of using the right brooder. We have not encountered any concerns of coccidiosis using our style of brooder system, the chicks have access to clean feed and water, the easy pull out tray removes droppings quickly reducing smell and risk of illnesses. The heater is safely fixed to avoid the fire hazard of hanging heat lamps and it is thermostat controlled to only be on when needed. The brooder provides a better control of temperature management to avoid chilling or overheating the chicks.
Why we don't use wood shaving brooder systems
Cedar shavings emit toxic fumes that are fatal to chicks. Pinewood shavings is a common bedding material in homemade brooder systems. Dampness is a mortal enemy to chicks, resulting in chilling and encouraging bacteria growth leading to illnesses such as coccidiosis. The most common cause of coccidiosis is chicks eating their own feces when they accidently kick up pine shavings and contaminate their waterer. This is why we use a mesh flooring for droppings to drop down onto an easy pull out tray covered in newspaper. Our style brooder also hangs water and feeders from the outside to further prevent contamination.
Heat Lamp Safety
There are a lot of concerns about the safety of the standard heat lamps used in coops and brooders. There is concern of fire (heat lamp falling into wood shavings) or shrapnel (caused by the bulb breaking. We offer thermostat controlled brooders for rent or sale that eliminate these risks, save on electricity, and are easy to clean. This video demonstrates that in as little as 45 seconds after a heat lamp falls, wood shavings are ignited. If you decide to use a heat lamp instead of our fixed thermostat controlled brooder, make sure you secure it in 3 different places improve safety.
Ensure chicks have free range to eat as much as they want. Never let their food run out. Sprinkle grit on their food like you would to salt a dish. Chickens consume their food in whole and their gizzards need sand or grit to process the food. They will consume about a 1lb of food a week. We offer organic feed choices. I like being able to know every ingredient that has gone into our chick food as we plan to consume their eggs.
Waterers should be tall enough that the chicks do not walk in their water and not too deep to risk drowning. Dip the beaks of several chicks into the water to help them locate it. They will teach the rest. When you first get them home, you can add molasses or honey to their water to help increase the electrolytes. Make sure water is clean. Dirty water is the #1 source of illness.
Poop dries and sticks to the vent preventing future excretions. Use warm water to remove. For frequent pasty butt, mixed in liquid (milk, water, apple juice) or egg with Scratch and Peck's chick starter to make a nice meal with warm oatmeal consistency. Make sure they are drinking lots of water and temperature is appropriate for age. Stress is the most common cause of pasty butt.
Sharing tips with the community and learning from each other's experiences is such a blessing.