Keeping newly hatched chicks warm during the early period of growth is essential to their survival. A supplemental heat source is necessary to assure that optimal temperatures are maintained for the first weeks of life.
A 250-watt infrared heat lamp is best for keeping chicks warm. Care must be taken to make sure that if the lamp goes out, a backup lamp is instantly available.
The lamp should be hung so as to make it easy to adjust the temperature by raising and lowering the lamp. It should be positioned about 18 to 24 inches above the chick's backs; the temperature should be checked with a thermometer each day at the chick's feet level.
For the first week of life, chicks need to be kept at a temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature should be reduced 5 degrees each week until the chicks are fully feathered.
Observing the Chicks
The chicks' behavior will indicate their heating needs. If they are too cold, they will huddle together; if they are too hot, they will avoid the area of the lamp. Upon sleeping, happy chicks will gather around the heat source in an open circle.
Infrared lamps become very hot and may pose a fire danger if allowed to come in close contact with the chicks' bedding, brooder parts, accessories or any other flammable materials.