How to Raise Healthy (and Happy) Chicks: Part 3 Heating


Welcome to Part 3 of this article series!  If you’re just now jumping in, be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 to learn about food, water, and bedding.  In this article, we will be discussing heating options and necessities for your chicks.  There are a few options here, and just like feed and bedding, each have good and bad qualities.  Let’s take a look at them now!

Heat Lamps

If you’ve been to a local feed and supply store, such as a Tractor Supply, undoubtedly, you’ve been drawn to the sounds of soft chirping, only to find bins of adorable, fluffy chicks.  Maybe you’ve noticed the setup for each bin… or maybe not considering the cute little fluffballs have stolen your attention, but there is a heat lamp attached to each bin providing heat.  This is so aptly named a heat lamp, and the 250-watt bulbs can be a normal whitish-yellow or, more commonly, red.  While these offer an efficient amount of heat, they are EXTREMELY dangerous and are not recommended for use in a brooder or coop, even though many people do use them.  While they do provide a relatively cheap option for a heating source, these bulbs get very hot and can start a fire very easily.  They also provide the light the entire time they are on, which can lead to problems between your chicks such as aggression and pecking.  If you do decide to use a heat lamp, be sure it is secured tightly, and away from anything that could potentially cause a fire.  Also, make sure it is far enough away from the bedding in the brooder so that no dust or bedding can be flung up and start a fire, as any small amount of dust or material is enough to ignite and cause a fire.

Heating Plate

Heating plates are a safe option to provide warmth to your chicks.  These are a radiant heat source, which is safer and less flammable as the surface temperature only reaches 125 degrees F.  These plates simulate a mother hen, allowing your chicks to snuggle underneath of it.  There is also no light, which is ideal because chicks should not be exposed to light 24/7 (they need darkness too just like any other animal).  These plates also allow you to raise them higher as your chicks grow larger.  As a matter of fact, that is the only negative about this type of heater-the limited space.  Depending on how many chicks you have, you may need more than one of these heaters, and because it is limited on how high you can take the plate, your chicks may grow too big for them.

Heating Panel

Panel Heaters are also a good option for safe, radiant heat.  It differs from the plate heater in that it sits vertically, allowing chicks to huddle against it or close to it rather than under it.  We used this with our flock, and it works great.  We did utilize a radiant space heater outside of the brooder in conjunction with the panel heater because we kept them in the basement and the space heater helped to heat the room as well.  Like the heating plate, the panel heater does not have a light, allowing your chicks to have dark at night as well.

Heating Requirements

While you do have a few options in how to provide heat to your chicks, you need to ensure you meet their required heating needs.  For the first week of their lives, your chicks need a temperature of 95 degrees F.  This is NOT optional, and if your chicks are not warm enough, they will go into shock and possibly die.  Likewise, they need to have room in the brooder to escape the heat, at their discretion, because they can also overheat, leading to issues such as pasty butt (a condition where the cloaca is pasted over with feces inhibiting the ability to defecate, also caused by stress), and potential death.  After the first week, the required temperature goes down to 90 degrees F and continues to go down by five degrees every week, until week eight.  At this point, your chicks should have most to all of their feathers, and are better able to regulate their body temperatures, therefore you should no longer need to provide heat.  With the panel and plate heaters, chicks can freely move further away or closer to the heating source as they need-just another positive to the wonderful heating options!


Heating is very important and crucial to the health of your chicks.  A brooder that is too cold can cause shock and death, and a brooder that is too hot can also cause an array of health issues.  Luckily, if your brooder is set up correctly, and you choose your heating source accordingly, this will not be an issue.  Continue reading Part 4 of this article series to learn about the proper dimensions and setup for your brooder.  Click the button below to continue reading.


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