How Long Do Baby Chicks Need Heat Lamp
two baby chicks need a heat lamp

How Long Do Baby Chicks Need A Heat Lamp?

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So your chicks are several weeks old, and maybe you have them inside, and they are starting to stink am I right? Been there done that!  So, let’s talk about How Long Baby Chicks Need Heat Lamp.

Everything I’ve read says to start at 95ºF and decrease by 5 degrees each week until you reach 70ºF. That information about dropping the temperature might be helpful if you live in a cold climate, but what if you live in a warm climate and it rarely ever gets down to 70ºF?

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

How Long Do Baby Chicks Need A Heat Lamp?

Baby chicks need a heat lamp on average about 8 -10 weeks. At 8 – 10 weeks, most chicks are feathered out, meaning their big girl and big boy feathers are mostly grown in. This helps protect them from the cool weather. However, it does depend on the breed. Meat chickens develop faster than layers for example.

Hot Weather and Heat Lamps

When chicks are first born it’s suggested they stay around 95ºF. If you’re bringing them inside where the A/C is running, they will need a heat source, no matter how hot it is outside.

If you have them outside at two weeks old, and it’s 90ºF outside, you probably don’t need a heat source on at least during the daytime. Third week 85ºF, the Fourth week 80ºF and so on…

Watch the nighttime temps closely, and turn on a heat source as necessary.

Cold Weather and Heat Lamps

8 – 10 weeks is about the normal amount of time baby chicks need a heat lamp. That’s how long Baby Chicks Need A Heat Lamp or preferably a safer heat source. There are many people who stop using a heat source at 8 weeks old. If they’re feathered out at 8 weeks then they should be just fine to go outside, even in colder weather. If it dips down super cold at night you might think about turning on a safe heat source for them then.

This is Angel. Known for her angelic-like feathers. I believe she is 10 weeks old now. This is what they talk about when they say feathered out. Below, I’ll share an image of a chick that is not fully feathered yet.

Examples Of Fully Feathered Out Baby Chicks

feather out baby chick

This is June. A very pretty gal. I loved her dark colors, she was the cutest little chick when she was born! You can see her young adult-like feathers have grown in nicely.

feathered out baby chick

Examples Of Baby Chicks Who are Not Fully Feathered Out

This is Mohawk. He had a black stripe on his head when first hatched hence his name, Mohawk. He still has his baby feathers in this photo. The fluffy feathers are baby feathers. The ones around his neck, on his back, and around his bum are all baby feathers. The feathers on half of his wing are his young adult-like feathers.

baby chick not completely feathered out

You can tell that his feathers are not quite grown in yet. He’s a couple weeks younger than Angel. In two to three weeks, he should be fully feathered out. Here’s another example of a chicks feathers who are not quite developed but almost.

baby chick not completely feathered out

Tips For Using A Heat Lamp

Heat lamps can be dangerous. They have started several fires in the past. However, when heat lamps are secured properly there is less risk of fire. Heat lamps come with a stupid clamp. These clamps simply aren’t a SECURE way of keeping the light bulb from falling onto the flammable fuel source of chicken poop and pine chips or bedding. I’ve noticed many people using a strong rope to tie them up instead.

Instead of using a rather large heat lamp, we bought a desk lamp and a reptile bulb from the pet store. These bulbs are much smaller and don’t put out such a big ring of heat. Big enough still to keep 10-12 chicks warm though. Remember in your brooder, there needs to be a space where the heat lamp isn’t lighting up that space. Enough space that the baby chicks have room to get away from the heat. They will get too warm and need time away from the heat lamp.

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

Yes, if the current temperature in their environment is less than what they currently need.

If it’s hot outside like say 90ºF. You could do what we do and let them run around on the porch! We have a screened in porch. For baby chicks we removed all of the furniture and outdoor carpet. Then, we put down some tarps and cover it in pine chips. The porch is fairly big. The baby chicks love all the space and they use it to test out their developing wings! It fun to see them take of running with their wings flapping!

We even set up little roosts and other things they can jump and play on. Baby chicks are just as much or more curious as their adult counterparts. So they like to have a couple of things to do other than eat and poop!

I would not leave them outside at NIGHT, unless it was ABSOLUTELY PREDATOR PROOF! These suggestions are great for warm climate daytime activities for baby chickens.

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

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

The wood on these A-Frame enclosures are usually pretty flimsy. Often times these are made out of extremely thin wood that doesn’t hold up very well over time.

Can I leave the house with a heat lamp on?

I don’t suggest this. Heat lamps are a fire hazard. I think it’s necessary to keep an eye on it at all times. However, you can buy a safer heat source if you really need to leave the house.

Watch For Signs of Being Too Cold and Too Hot

  • If you notice they are all huddled together, they may be a little chilly.
  • If they are spread out, running around like crazy they are probably fine.
  • If they are panting, and have their wings spread out they are hot.

In summary,

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

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4 thoughts on “How Long Do Baby Chicks Need A Heat Lamp?”

  1. awesome information; always wondered about the temps We live in northern Ontario Canada and have been thinking about getting chicks but was afraid of our weather.

    1. Yes, leave it on all the time, unless the temperature is super warm like 90 degrees give or take some… Make sure the chicks have room to escape the heat, so they can get warm when they need it, and cool off when they get too hot. They can overheat and die.

      If the temperature is quite high, say 95ºF in the first week of the chicks life, or 90ºF in the second and so on, you can turn off the heat lamp. If you have them in air conditioning then, no. I imagine you keep the air colder than probably 80 degrees, and depending on their age that could be fatal.

      We live in Florida, so if it’s hot outside, I would put them on the screened-in porch and it was PLENTY hot enough, without needing a heat lamp.

      However, please make sure you don’t leave the heat lamp on unattended! They are a fire hazard.

      Hope that helps!

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