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 watt bulb if the brooder temperature drops below 60 degrees. 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 or My Pet Chicken. I’ve never had a shipping problem, and they both usually have those special hard to find breeds I’m looking for.
Preparing the Chicken Coop for the Colder Months Ahead
The winters are rather mild in Phoenix and your birds will be quite comfortable without heat added, as long as they are protected from wind, drafts, and especially rain.
Temperatures rarely drop below freezing in Phoenix, with the usual overnight temperature in the 4o’s. As long as your birds are kept dry, cool weather is quite welcomed, especially after a long summer of brutal heat.
A heavy weight tarp is suitable protection from wind, along with ample clean pine shavings (preferred) or straw in the coop and nest boxes. Your birds will huddle together for warmth at night, if you stick your finger deep inside their feathers you’ll see they are toasty warm, even at freezing temps.
Never put a heat lamp in your coop, the risk of fire is far to dangerous. I wouldn’t use a light bulb for heat either. First of all, your birds don’t need it in Phoenix, and second, light is annoying and disruptive to the normalcy of nature.
You will hear other chicken keepers say egg laying is reduced or halted completely in the winter months. That may be so in other parts of the country, but in Phoenix I never notice much change in frequency. Remember, the key to keeping the egg basket full is defined in two simple words… happy birds.
In most parts of the country keeping chickens in the summer heat is merely keeping them comfortable. But not here, in Phoenix, Arizona it’s a matter of keeping them alive in temperatures that can easily exceed 115 degrees… for months. Keeping chickens in extreme heat is serious business and I’ve got all the information you need HERE to keep your flock healthy during this difficult time.
Do I know what I’m talking about? You bet, my flock has experienced temperatures in the 120’s. Any fatalities? Zero in the last eight years. In my novice years as a chicken keeper I lost birds when the temps were only in the 90’s… now I share what I’ve learned to help others avoid this tragedy.
(a) Except as otherwise provided in the article, it is hereby declared to be a nuisance and it shall be unlawful for any person to keep rodents or poultry within the City. No poultry or rodents shall be kept in an enclosure within eight feet of any residence within the City. Poultry may be kept within eighty feet of a residence if written permission consenting to the keeping of poultry less than eighty feet from a residence is first obtained from each lawful occupant and each lawful owner of such residence. Poultry shall not be kept in the front yard area of any lot or parcel with the City. Poultry and rodents shall be kept in an enclosure so constructed as to prevent such poultry and rodents from wandering upon property belonging to others.
(b) No more than twenty head of poultry nor more than twenty-five head of rodents nor more than twenty-five head comprising a combination of rodents and poultry shall be kept upon the first one-half acre or less. An additional one-half acre shall be required for each additional twenty head of poultry or for each additional twenty-five head of rodents or for each additional twenty-five head comprising a combination of poultry and rodents. For areas larger than two and one-half acres the number of poultry or rodents shall not be limited.
(c) No male poultry shall be kept within the City limits except such male poultry as are incapable of making vocal noises which disturb the peace, comfort, or health of any person residing within the City.
(d) All such enclosures shall be kept in such condition that no offensive, disagreeable, or noxious smell or odor shall arise therefrom to the injury, annoyance, or inconvenience of any inhabitant of the neighborhood thereof.