We started with setting up the outside for chickens, coop, run area, etc. before we set up our brooding area. Baby chickens can be delicate creatures to take care of, especially if they are only a few days old. Top priorities for the youngest babies are food, water and shelter.
Shelter is pretty important with newly hatched chickens. It took me a little research to realize that hatchlings can’t be thrown out in a coop unless it is summer and the night time temperatures are in the 90-95°F range. In most places, that is not going to happen. Without a mother hen to keep the babies warm, you will need a heat lamp. We got one of the clamp on type of heat lamps, specifically for brooders, from our local feed store when we picked up the chicks. You can get a similar style clamp on heat light at Walmart and hardware stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot. We recommend that you get one with the additional hanging hook for safety, like this one. We used a piece of paracord to hang the lamp from a doorknob. This prevents any possibility of falling on chicks.
You will also need a bulb to make that lamp warm the chicks. Your 2 main choices are red or white. We went with the red bulb as it is supposed to let them sleep better. If you couldn’t find a red bulb, the white bulb will also work. I haven’t spoken with anyone that has used the white, but the ceramic ones look pretty cool. Let me know if you’ve tried one of those.
When you are setting up the light in your brooding area you’re trying to achieve 2 things. The first is an area that has adequate heat to keep the chicks from getting cold. Adequate heat varies by age of the chicks from the first week you are looking to keep the temperature around 95°F . Every week after the first, the temperature goes down by about 5°F. Once the chickens have their adult feathers or they can survive your outside temperatures, they can go into the coop. We also left the heat lamp in the coop in case they got cold for the first couple of weeks in an over abundance of caution. The second thing is an area for the chicks to escape to if it is too hot!
You can watch your chicks and tell if they are hot by seeing if they are as far away from the lamp as possible. You can adjust this by moving the lamp slightly further away. If the chicks are too cold, they will be huddled up in the area with the lamp.
Other precautions, make sure the lamp is secured. Nothing ruins your first time raising chickens like the light falling on one or cooking one 🙁