Why? It’s much easier to keep baby chicks warm then trying to keep them cool… which is impossible.
Most parts of the country raise chicks in Springtime when the weather is mild. This gives the birds plenty of time to mature through the summer months and be fully feathered by Fall. Not the case here in Phoenix because extreme temperatures of 100+ can start as early as May and by June, reach 110+.
These conditions are not suitable for baby chicks, being this hot in a confined brooder is not only stressful, but can be life threatening. Chicks need to have a heat source, yes, this is true, but also need to be able to get away from it to stay comfortable.
Improper brooder temperatures also increase the onset of pasty butt (fecal impaction.) For these reasons, in Phoenix, it’s best to start chicks in November, and by April they are mature enough to slowly acclimate to our rising temperatures. Remember, It’s much easier to keep baby chicks warm then trying to keep them cool… which is impossible.
Chicks are Best Kept Outdoors
Raising chicks outdoors in a shed, barn, or garage is the best place to keep your baby chicks in November. They will most likely only need a radiant heat source. If the weather turns colder at night, a low wattage heat lamp may assist in keeping the brooder temperature steady. You can buy low wattage heat bulbs in the reptile section at your local pet or feed store. I usually use a red 75 or 100 watt bulb if the brooder temperature drops below 60 degrees.
Assuming you have your chicks in a small brooder, the standard 250 watt bulbs are way to hot for the moderate winters here. If they’re in a large enclosure, a 250 (red) watt is okay in a corner, just make sure your chicks have enough space escape from the heat. More on using radiant heat & heat lamps.
Where Do I Buy My Chicks?
If I want a particular breed and can’t find it locally, my #1 source is Ideal Hatchery. I’ve never had a shipping problem, and they usually have those special hard to find breeds I’m looking for.
A week early, but temperatures are on the rise and my 5 week old chicks will be more comfortable in the chicken yard than in the brooder shed. Today it’s expected to reach 100 degrees, with a low of 68-70. Welcome to Phoenix little ladies, the summers here are far from paradise. By June temps will average 105, and July is worse, when there are days that can hit 115+.
The chicken yard is shady and set up where there is plenty of air flow. They’ll be happier having the ability to lay in cool dirt. The brooder shed is ideal for raising chicks in our winter months, but I started chicks late this year. It’s easy to keep chicks warm, but keeping them cool is a whole different story. So here they are, in the big girl pen.
I think girls are feathered enough, especially the Wyandottes (black ones.) The Ameraucanas (white) are a slower to mature, but they are mostly feathered, tonight they will huddle together for warmth if they need it.
It can be a challenge keeping chickens in extreme heat, but they manage if you provide them with the tools they need. Here’s a helpful article explaining how to raise chickens when temperatures are crazy high…
The March 18th chicks are growing fast and there’s work to be done before they leave the brooder and move into the coop. As long as I’m stuck at home, seemed like a great time to update the chicken coop. There’s always something I’m not satisfied with, this year I’m going to do something about it.
My biggest pain in the butt are wild birds eating all my chicken feed. They squeeze through the tiniest hole in the chicken pen, and then can’t get out. They fly around inside bouncing off the walls, causing total chaos among the flock.
You probably think this is no big deal, but chicken feed is expensive, and wild birds can easily eat 5lbs or more every single day. That means I’m buying a $14.99 bag of feed every 8 days or so. Taking that into consideration, it would be a lot cheaper to just buy eggs!
The coop is a 10×10 covered chain link pen, inside an open air barn or shedrow at the back of our property. I had it completely covered with aviary netting, that was somewhat suitable, however, birds and lizards would get caught in it. That’s another problem I want to avoid so I took all of it off. One problem solved, but another was created. I was now committed to finding a favorable solution.
I bought 3 50ft rolls of 1/2 inch hardware cloth and have almost finished covering the entire coop. Talk about time consuming, OMG. My fingers are a mess, my nails broken, and my arms look like I’ve been in a battle zone. BUT, there will be no birds getting in my coop this year!
The Girls at Three Weeks Old
Ameraucana Easter Eggers & Wyandottes 3 wks
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