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.
Set up a brooding area. When raising just a few chicks (30 or less) use a large box with walls at least 18-inches high and place the box in a safe area away from drafts and household pets. Use a screen or a towel to cover the box. For larger numbers, a metal stock tank can used in an enclosed, draft free outbuilding… Continue Reading
Baby chicks require constant care and monitoring, so make sure your schedule is clear for the first 4 weeks! Don’t plan on vacations or even day trips unless you have a seasoned baby chick pro on standby. Make sure you or a member of your family are available to check on them at least 5 times a day… Continue Reading
A variety of products can be used for initial brooding to provide a draft free environment. Most commonly used is a 12- to 18-inch high cardboard brooder ring formed around the brooding area. A circle five feet in diameter is needed for 50 chicks. Increase the size of the ring proportionately to the added number of chicks to be started… Continue Reading
Poultry Need: Feed, Water, Heat, Light & Space.
FEED: Use a commercial chick starter for the first 8 weeks. On the first day cover the litter with newspaper and spread some feed on the papers and have your feeders full also. This will allow the new birds to find the feed. Use a 2 foot feeder for each 25 chicks… Continue Reading
An updated review by an actual user of radiant heat from a Brinsea EcoGlow20 brooder.
Raising baby chicks in winter… we’re all set in our ways. Especially me, but right now I’m practicing what I preach about not keeping chicks in the house and using the Brinsea EcoGlow brooder in an outside shelter. Radiant heat certainly has it’s qualities, just not in every situation. Here’s why…
There are many valid reasons for using radiant heat instead of a heat lamp, and for the most part I agree with them all.
It’s pounded into our head to avoid heat lamps being they’re a fire hazard, no argument there. It’s also true that pasting up (poopy bums) is less likely to occur when using the Brinsea brooder. Another good point is radiant heat is more like being under the mother hen. But, the Brinsea does have limitations to it’s effectiveness.
The Downside, (but not a deal breaker)
Using radiant heat is compromised in temperatures below 50 degrees. In other words, it doesn’t offer sufficient heat for chicks when they need it most. So considering the fact we shouldn’t keep chicks in the family living space, and heat lamps are a fire hazard that should be avoided… what to do? Every article on keeping baby chicks specifies the importance of keeping their environment at 95 the first week, then drop the temp by 5 degrees each week until they are fully feathered.
I realize there is constant controversy over the proper way to raise baby chicks. Our family has been raising chicks for three generations. My grandmother kept her chicks in the basement near the furnace, my mother in the kitchen behind the wood stove. I’ve kept them in a box in a spare bedroom with a heat lamp, then the laundry room, later in the garage. But today these practices are criticized. I’ve tried to comply with what today’s health officials consider safe chick rearing, and here’s my conclusion and solution.
I’m currently using the Brinsea Ecoglow20 brooder for my 6 day old chicks in an outside draft free 8×10 insulated shed. Outdoor temperature is 43 degrees. Taking into consideration the Brinsea brooder only provides enough warmth for chicks in temps above 50 degrees, I see only one solution… a heat lamp. Securely hung above the brooder box at a height to keep the interior heat at 60. Ok… truthfully more like 70.
Do I like the Brinsea EcoGlow? Definately, wouldn’t be without one. However, I don’t feel it’s the perfect solution with all the capabilities of kicking good ol’ fashion chick rearing practices to the curb. My opinion.