Keeping day old chicks warm : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Please help! Early this morning one of our chicken houses burned to the ground with about 15 old hens in it. These were destined for the processer this morning in order for the house to be cleaned and used by the day old chicks I am now raising on my back porch with a dishwasher box and heat lamp. The fire probably started from the heat lamp I had on the chicken waterer to keep it from freezing. Now I fear using those heat lamps and especially while on my back porch. Any suggestions? The weather is still below freezing here and the construction of a new house may take some time yet.

-- Nancy (, February 21, 2001


I always keep mine in the house until they begin to get mostly feathered out-usually about 3 or 4 weeks. Cut the box off until it's about 12-18 inches deep and put a window screen over it. Then I place a utility light with a 100 watt bulb on the screen in the middle. I line it with newspaper, sprinkle a little sandy dirt around, put the feeder and waterer off to one side. I have to change the paper more often as they grow but that's no problem if you know someone that gets a paper everyday just get them to save it for you and that will be more than enough. I also set mine a few feet from my wood heater when it is still cold. They sure are a lot better entertainment than the t.v. The only problem is that sometimes 1 or 2 will hurt their feet on the newspaper because it is slick but they usually get over it. Also, make sure that the screen is metal and not some kind of plastic.

-- Don (, February 21, 2001.

In the house is the best place if the weather is that cold outside. They need to be out of the dampness and draft. The dust will be pretty heavy after 4 to 6 weeks, so cover everything up. I like to use a refrigerator box turned on its side with one side cut off. Hang a light over it with a thermometer on the bottom of the box to monitor temp.

Sorry to hear about your fire. It is important to use UL listed lamp holders and keep them cleaned from dust and cobwebs. We hang ours with a chain from an eyebolt in the ceiling and tie up the cord so its all out of reach of the chickens.

-- Skip Walton (, February 21, 2001.

== The only problem is that sometimes 1 or 2 will hurt their feet on the newspaper because it is slick but they usually get over it. ==

Don, if you tape the legs together, with about 1 1/2 inches between the legs, the splayed legs will heal in about a week. You can avoid that by putting the chicks on paper toweling. It's difficult for them to walk (slip?) around on the newspaper. My brooder is a dog cage 4 feet long x 2 1/2 feet wide x 3 feet high. I covered it with 1/2 inch hardware cloth to keep the little ones in. I also made a floor for the chicks with the hardware cloth ~ about 6 inches up from the bottom. No bedding, no problems. Newspaper/empty feed bags cover the floor underneath ~ easy cleaning and the chicks aren't living in their droppings.

I cover the brooder on the top and 3 sides with a blanket. The gate side is open. On the back of the cage, opposite the gate, I hang a 100 watt bulb in a reflector. The temp stays at 86-88. I use this for chicks and keets. Never did understand why the suggested temp starts at 95. I've never had a problem.

-- ~Rogo (, February 21, 2001.

So sorry about your fire! When anything like that happens to me, I try to look on the bright side (after I'm done throwing a fit over it and feeling bad) ~ now you have a clean slate on which to build a "new and improved" hen house. You can put the nest boxes on the east side, where you wished they would have been in the old one. And that door that you thought would be handy on the other side ~ now you can have it! Also, you don't have to clean the old one! I'm not trying to offend you or poke fun where it's not appropriate ~ just trying to give you a little lift now when it seems that you might need it.

Yes, move those babies inside (maybe in the washroom?) and use a 100 watt bulb in a reflector. It's plenty of heat for them. Hang it in one end of your box ~ they'll sit under it when they need warming and have a chance to get away from it if they need cooling down. If you find that all your chicks are staying at the far end of the box away from the light, it means your light is too close to the bottom of the box and is making things too hot in there ~ raise your light a bit. If all your chicks are staying huddled up right under the light, it's too cold ~ lower the light a bit. Wherever you put them, make sure there is plenty of ventilation (but not too much) and a bottom surface beneath the box or cage that won't get ruined from chick-pee (*grin*) or overturned waterers. By the time that they outgrow these accomodations, the weather will be nice enough outside (hopefully) that you can put them out there.

Good luck!

-- Wingnut (, February 22, 2001.

Oh man! So sorry to hear about your fire and the loss of your chickens. That almost happened to me, too. Several months ago, when my daughter went out to do chores in the evening, she found one of our lamps had been knocked to the floor and had burned a 6" wide hole all the way through! There was a 2" thick floor board it had burned through. It stunk to high heaven, but thankfully that is all that happened. Too close!

I have kept chicks indoors in big cardboard boxes, too. I have the clamp lamps, but don't trust the clamps. I secure the cords with something else. I like the screen idea above. It's real cold here, too. Just had an 18" snow a couple of weeks ago, then it rained and melted it over the last 4-5 days and now we have 6" of snow again. Aghh.. come on Spring! Good luck! Nancy

-- Nancy in CA (, February 22, 2001.

I too raise chicks inside in the winter. I use a large dog kennel- the kind the airlines use to ship dogs. I line the bottom with newspapers, but I cover the newspaper with old stable bedding- keeps the chicks from slipping around on the paper, plus the composted bedding is usually full of bugs, which the chicks go crazy over. Also helps to keep down the dust, etc,. and I can go for a week before I have to change the whole thing. This works great if you are only raising a few chicks at a time.

-- Elizabeth (, February 22, 2001.

Thanks to all for the answers to keeping baby chicks warm. They seem to be doing well in the box with a new lamp that I bought. I raised it off the floor and the box hasn't gotten over 80 degrees so I feel pretty safe now. Yes, I'm looking on the bright side that we get to build a newer, better house (thanks to having our outbuildings insured as well as the house). We are most thankful that the newer house that we have sitting fairly close to the old house did not catch on fire too. The Lord had the wind blowing in the right direction! All the laying hens were fine and laying the normal amount of eggs the next day!

-- Nancy (, February 22, 2001.

Wonderful! You were smart to take out insurance on even the outbuildings, thank goodness! Good luck on building just the right new henhouse!

-- Wingnut (, February 23, 2001.

Since we have always had a 2 bathroom house, I always use the guest room bathtub for starting chicks. It works great and a lamp is easy to clip to the sides for estra warmth...

-- RuthieG (, February 26, 2001.

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