How Long Do Chicks Need A Heat Lamp? Can They Survive Without It? | Kidadl


How Long Do Chicks Need A Heat Lamp? Can They Survive Without It?

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Baby chicks need a heat lamp on average for about 8-10 weeks.

Baby chicks need heat lamps as the temperature in chicks' bodies is low compared to the outside temperature. So, to maintain this temperature, heat lamps are a simple and easy fix.

While using a heat lamp, it is preferred to use red light as it helps baby chicks to cope with the 24-hour cycle of day and night and helps to protect them from the cool weather. However, it does depend on the breed and also on the breeder to place chicks in a comfortable environment to help them beat cold as the baby chick's health begins to decline. Using a heat lamp will do wonders for baby chicks if it is placed with proper lighting, food, water, and of course with the company of a mother hen to keep them warm. Red lights are always preferred over other lights, especially white lights. Red lights make the environment warm and make the heat source comfortable and reassuring for baby chicks. The brooder should also be of good quality as the potential to catch fire is there and it should be there to protect the chick from it. Baby chicks don't possess feathers to regulate their body temperature by themselves. Lamps are often preferred by a chicken and her eggs and imitate good weather. Eggs laid without the mother hen need artificial heat for raising well. Each week, the chick shows many signs of development.

You can also read about how high can chickens fly and chickens that lay colored eggs.

How long should chicks be under a heat lamp or a portable heater?

Baby chick needs the heat lamp or portable heater on average for about 8-10 weeks. At 8-10 weeks chicks are fully feathered and can control their temperature. But baby chicks don't have feathers and they are vulnerable to cold. It is a good idea to put a heating lamp on when raising baby chicks to control the temperature in the brooder during the day and night to keep chicks warm. Hot weather outside is very much essential for chickens.

Because baby chicks lack the ability to self-regulate their internal body temperature, the newly hatched chicks, fresh from eggs, are sensitive to cold and require hot and warm environments. Chicks need their mothers so that they can keep themselves warm enough. A mother hen usually has an internal temperature of 107 F (41 C). Chicks need to have chicken heating lamps or another appropriate heat source, and humans need to closely monitor everything with thermometers.

A brooder is the most important part of raising baby chicks and you must have a complete setup, which includes water, food, grit, heat source, and a bedding area when you take chicks home. Using the heat lamp is necessary as it is affordable and easy to install and maintains the temperature. Experts usually recommend red bulbs instead of clear white bulbs as red bulbs give a natural night and day experience to chicks and a 250 w variety is recommended.

You can check whether the bulbs are giving good light to hens and their chicks by checking the level of the light. If chicks are evenly spread in the brooder and have adequate fresh water and food, you’ll hear some contented peeping sounds. When chicks spread in the brooder, it is generally because of the high temperature of the heat bulb. You can either shift the lamp to a higher position or replace it with a bulb with less wattage. When the brooder is very cool, the chicks start to huddle so that they can get the heat of the heat lamp. They then become noisy and stressed. In that situation, you can lower the heat lamp close to the brooder or can change the bulb with a higher watt one. Warmth is very important for baby chicks, and gradually we can see the need which they have for artificial heat disappears as they age.

Red Light Vs White Light

White light is not recommended as much for baby chicks as red light. White light is very bright and that can be very stressful for small chicks if we keep them on for 24 hours. This can even lead to negative behavior or pecking among them. Red light is known to have a calming effect on chicks and also can prevent pecking behavior. Chicks do not get disturbed by the red light much and hence the baby chickens can sleep peacefully under the red light because their brooder gets enough warmth.

As they age, the need for warm light diminishes. Without red light, baby chicks can very quickly become chilled and die. Also, until chicks are feathered, which is at about 11 weeks, baby chicks can't control their temperature and it is absolutely necessary to protect them from cold and regulate the room or brooder's temperature. One needs to play the part of a mother hen and keep the temperature at the right degree.

One heat lamp or maybe two heat lamps suspended above the brooder is what many people use and is a good idea. It is inexpensive and it works better provided you keep it out of the chick's reach. To some extent, an infrared bulb can be used to warm the atmosphere in the brooder by some degrees. Another option is a lamp which gives no light at all but it gives warmth to the brooder. It also maintains the air inside the brooder. Red light bulbs should be 250 W as it gives better light and warmth and keeps the air warm in the first few weeks as this period is very critical. In summer, baby chicks require only supplemental heat for a few weeks which is absolutely necessary, but it depends upon the breed and how much baby chicks move in and out for food and water and run inside to the comfort of the mother hen and brooder with a red light. Red light or red bulbs also gives the baby chicken a sense of security as a warmer temperature gives them the freedom to not have to be huddled as with a cold temperature.

Will a Light at Night Disturb Sleeping Chicks?

Chickens do not get disturbed by light at night. Without a light on at night, the chick's natural instincts tell them to huddle together in the room or brooder as they cannot see anything when it is dark and hence feel uncomfortable. Night light with a red bulb also regulates the warm atmosphere in the container and the chicks can see absolutely clearly where they and others are. Any change in a chick's natural rhythms can cause stress to mother hens. Mother hens care for their baby chicks in this period. The chicks also get disturbed in the room or brooder if the white light is on for 24 hours because chicks perceive this source as sunlight and hence won't sleep during the night.

Red mites or chicken mites live and lay their eggs in cracks near nests or roosts and that can make chickens restless during the night when they crawl onto them so that they can feed. So it is absolutely necessary to secure the house or brooder from such things for as long as 8-10 weeks. Until then, proper care is needed.

Chickens cannot see well in the dark as they do not have enough night vision. So, red light is absolutely necessary for them, however, compared to us humans, chickens can see better. Chickens have three eyelids to move and can move each eyelid independently at a 300-degree field of vision without turning their heads. They can see better in color than us humans!

Newly hatched baby chicks get warm under the lamp

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

Chicks need light for 24 hours and a heat lamp is a source of light also. For baby chickens, it is important to see at night as they can see their way around and also get the warmth of the heat lamp which is the only source of heat. At night the temperatures are colder than in the day. Chicks need an ideal temperature which is around 95 F (35 C) for up to seven days, then 90 F (32 C) for week two, 90 F (32 C) for week three, and then 85 F (29 C) for week four. We should decrease the temperature until the chicks have feathers then they can control their body temperature.

It is preferred to keep the light on in the brooder for 6-13 weeks and also check if the chickens are fully feathered or not before you decide to remove the light. When chickens get fully feathered, the feathers keep them warm enough.

Baby chicks who are with their mothers, do not feel the need for light during the night. They can get the warmth they need from their mother. Chicks are very fragile during this stage of development and get hungry or dehydrated easily.

Those chicks who do not have a mother hen when they hatch need to get warmth from the heat lamp which can provide them the light they need at night. The heat lamp is able to do both of these things for chicks. Under normal conditions, baby chicks get protected by their mother hens. The mother hen may communicate verbally with her chicks to keep them grouped together at night with or without light, although light in the coop should be preferred.

Chickens do not have good night vision, as mentioned earlier, so when the lights are off, chicks are unable to look for their way coming back to the brooder. You need to leave the light on so that the chicks can learn to spot their water and food. 

Chickens do not get disturbed by light at night. In fact, when they can easily spot the place where the members of the clutch are with respect to their brooder, they feel very comfortable. Sleeping chicks are able to happily sleep even when the lights are on, and that's why you don't need to feel stressed about whether leaving the lights on for the entire night will prevent them from sleeping.

Chicks who are panicked will be unable to have good vision in the dark and then will huddle together. This can lead to the trampling of weaker chicks. The light of the brooder should get switched off once these chicks grow older, just always look for a different heat source.

Unlike chicks hatched by a hen, many farmers and people raise young chickens by hand and hatch the chicks themselves in an incubator. Hand-reared chicks require a continual supply of warmth. The heat lamp is utilized for this reason and gives the chicks the necessary warmth while also keeping their space mildly lit. It is not advisable to leave the heat lamp on when leaving the house for a long period as it may catch fire when in contact with flammable objects.

How do you raise chickens without a heat lamp?

If circumstances mean that you cannot provide a heat lamp, then there are other methods and tips on how to keep chicks at a controlled temperature. Hot water bottles are very good for this but to do this one has to get up in the night for tending the chicks because hot water bottles are a safe heat source. Layers of bedding in the brooder are the other heat source in the coop or brooder. You must have layers of bedding of warm cloth that will keep the chicks warm. Heated pads are another way to keep inside warmer or thick beds are also an option.

If the house temperature is 75 F (23 C), you don't need to have any heat lamp after four weeks, after which they can go outside. In garages or barns, which mostly have a temperature of about 60 F (16 C) a chicken will need a heat lamp until they are six weeks old.

How do I know if chicks are warm enough?

If chicks are huddled together under a heat lamp, they are very cold i.e. the heat lamp is not of the proper wattage. On the other hand, if chicks are scattered away from the heat lamp and tend to avoid the direct light under the heat lamp, they are too warm and you have to change the heat lamp.

If they are randomly and evenly spread in the brooder without any hindrances and moving freely around the coop, they are comfortable. The heat lamp is in the right spot. As the chicks grow, they won't need as much heat. Keep an eye on them. Baby chicks need either the heat lamp or a mother hen to keep them warm for about 4-6 weeks depending on outside temperatures. Until chicks are fully feathered and can control temperatures on their own, you need to keep an eye on the chicks.

A baby chick, at first, needs a lot of care to raise properly in the coop. Until feathers are developed properly, lamps are very much needed in the short run. The container in which they are raised by their mother should have hot air and mimic good weather. The container should not allow the flow of hot air outside as it can give the sensation of cold to chickens. Chicken like the heat lamps very much as they can easily get warmth during colder days, and the owners can just simply switch it off during summer.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'How long do chicks need a heat lamp?', then why not take a look at 'Chickens losing feathers' or 'Leghorn chicken facts'?



Written By
Nidhi Sahai

<p>Dedicated and experienced, Nidhi is a professional content writer with a strong reputation for delivering high-quality work. She has contributed her expertise to esteemed organizations, including Network 18 Media and Investment Ltd. Driven by her insatiable curiosity and love for journalism and mass communication, Nidhi pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, graduating with distinction in 2021. During her college years, she discovered her passion for Video Journalism, showcasing her skills as a videographer for her institution. Nidhi's commitment to making a positive impact extends beyond her professional pursuits. Actively engaging in volunteer work, she has contributed to various events and initiatives throughout her academic career.</p>

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