Chicken Lamps and Raising Chicks
How to Raise Chicks Using Chicken Lamps
New chicks desperately need warmth. Without the correct environment they can quickly become too cold and then die. Chicks are extremely vulnerable until their feathers fully develop and so it is vital that you keep your brooder at the correct temperature. To do this, during much of the year, you will need chicken lamps.
When you move your newly hatched chicks to their brooder do remember that you are transferring them from the hot environment of the incubator and any sudden drop in temperature would be dangerous. In the first week you should maintain a temperature of 35ºC in the brooder. This can then be lowered in increments of 3ºC over the next five weeks.
Creating the Perfect Environment
The temperature in the brooder will be affected by the ambient temperature of
the room and the number of chicks sharing it. The warmer the room and the more chicks you have, the hotter it will be in the brooder. If you are in the midst of a hot summer then you may not need to switch on your chicken lamps. Heavier breeds will require less heat than smaller breeds. The brooder must be kept free of draughts otherwise there will be cold spots.
How to Monitor the Temperature
Keep an eye on the temperature by using at least two thermometers. These should be at different points in the brooder. You should feature more than one thermometer as this will tell you if there is an even distribution of heat. Terrarium thermometers (for reptiles) are a good choice as the probe remains inside the brooder but the body of the thermometer will be outside of the brooder. This will mean that the chicks will not be able to peck at it. This type of thermometer is also easy to read. The behaviour of your chicks is a good indicator of how they are faring.
How to Monitor Behaviour
If the chicks are sticking to the perimeters of the brooder and steering clear of the heat lamp then they are probably feeling too hot. Panting is also a sign of overheating. If the chicks are huddled together close to the heat lamp then the brooder is probably too cold for them and you should increase the temperature immediately. Chicks which are comfortably warm will be eating, drinking and exploring the brooder and their peeps will sound cheerful.
A 250 watt infra-red heat lamp is ideal for heating your brooder. Red bulbs are the perfect source of heat as the light won’t prevent the young birds from sleeping. Do remember that heat lamps must be kept clear of flammable materials including cardboard and wood shavings and must be properly secured. Sadly, the careless installation of heat lamps can quickly lead to disaster.
With a good chicken lamp you can create a fabulous environment for your chicks which will enable them to thrive. However, you must keep a close eye on your chicks at all times to ensure that you have achieved the right balance.