Chicks Brooding: How Long do Chicks Need a Heater?

A heat lamp or any type of heater is needed during the early days of chicks brooding. So your chicks are several weeks old, and maybe you’ve got them inside, and they’re starting to stink, am I right? I’ve already done that! So, let’s talk about how long chicks need a heat lamp.

Everything I have read says to start at 95ºF and decrease 5 degrees each week until you reach 70ºF. That temperature drop information can be helpful if you live in a cold climate, but what if you live in a warm climate and it rarely reaches 70ºF?

To really understand when is the right time to wean chicks from the heat source, we need to know what is keeping them warm. We all know that chickens keep warm with their feathers. The feathers act as a heat trap in colder climates. In warmer weather, they spread their feathers a little so the heat can escape.

chicks brooding
A typical brooder. Click image to buy

Chicks Brooding: How long do chicks need a heat lamp?

Chicks need a heat lamp for an average of 8-10 weeks. At 8-10 weeks, most chicks are plucked, which means their girl and big boy feathers are mostly farmed. This helps protect them from cold weather. However, it depends on the breed. Broilers develop faster than layers, for example.

Hot weather and heat lamps

When the chicks hatch, it is suggested that they stay around 95ºF. If you bring them indoors where the air conditioner is working, they will need a heat source, no matter how hot it is outside.

If you have them outside after two weeks, and it’s 90ºF outside, you probably don’t need a heat source at least during the day. The third week is 85ºF, the fourth week is 80ºF, and so on …

Keep a close eye on nighttime temperatures and turn on a heat source if necessary.

Hot and cold weather lamps

8-10 weeks is the normal time that chicks need a heat lamp. That is the time when the chicks need a heat lamp or preferably a safer heat source.

There are many people who stop using a heat source at 8 weeks of age. If they are plucked at 8 weeks, then they should be fine to go out, even in cold weather. If it’s very cold at night, you might consider turning on a safe heat source for them.

This is Angel. Known for its angelic feathers. I think he’s 10 weeks old now. This is what they talk about when they say that she is feathered. Next, I will share a picture of a chick that does not have all the feathers yet.

Choose the best heat lamp

Tips for using a heat lamp

Heat lamps can be dangerous. They have started several fires in the past. However, when the heat lamps are properly secured there is less risk of fire. Heat lamps come with a stupid clamp.

These clamps are simply not a SAFE way to prevent the bulb from falling onto the flammable fuel source of chicken poop and pine chips or bedding. I have noticed that many people use a strong rope to tie them in place.

Instead of using a fairly large heat lamp, we bought a desk lamp and a reptile bulb from the pet store. These bulbs are much smaller and don’t give off as large a ring of heat. Big enough to keep 10-12 chicks warm.

Remember that in your kennel, there must be a space where the heat lamp does not illuminate that space. Enough room for the chicks to have room to get away from the heat. They will get too hot and will need time to get away from the heat lamp.

Do I have to keep the heat lamp on all day and night?

Yes, if the current temperature of your environment is lower than what you currently need.

If it’s hot outside, let’s say 90ºF. You could do what we do and let them run around the porch! We have a screen on the porch. For the chicks, we removed all the furniture and carpet from the outside.

Then, we put some tarps and cover them with pieces of pine. The porch is quite large. Chicks love all of the space and use it to test their developing wings. It’s fun to watch them run with their wings flapping!

We even set up little chicken coops and other things that they can jump in and play with. Chicks are as curious or more curious than their adult counterparts. So they like to have a couple of things to do other than eat and poop.

I wouldn’t leave them out at NIGHT unless it was ABSOLUTELY PREDATORY TEST! These suggestions are great for warm weather daytime activities for baby chickens.

If you don’t have a screened porch to offer them, you can put them on a chicken tractor if you have one. Or in any enclosure that has protection against predators, especially from above. Those chicks will look like little pieces of candy to a hawk.

Here’s an enclosure that’s pretty cheap, and you can give your chicks access to green grass.

The wood in these A-frame enclosures is usually quite flimsy. They are often made of extremely thin wood that does not hold up very well over time.

Chicks Brooding: Can I leave the house with a heat lamp on?

I am not suggesting this. Heat lamps are a fire hazard. I think you need to watch it all the time. However, you can buy a safer heat source if you really need to get out of the house.

  • Watch for signs of being too cold and too hot
  • If you notice that they are all huddled together, they may be a little cold.
  • If they’re scattered, running like crazy, they’re probably fine.
  • If they’re panting, and their wings are outstretched, they’re hot.

Select the best automatic brooders

Final thoughts on Chicks Brooding

Hopefully, this clears things up for you. Now you know that chicks need heat lamps (or a safer heat source) for about 8-10 weeks. If you feel like they need heat for a little longer, then give it to them. Good luck with your baby chicks!

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