When baby chicks hatch, they need additional warmth. Their body heat alone is not enough to keep them warm. Without additional heat, they can become chilled and stressed, and if it goes too long, they can become ill or die.
When a broody hen hatches her eggs, the hen instinctively knows how to give the baby chicks the right amount of extra warmth. She keeps them warm with her own body heat by keeping the chicks near her, or under her, or under her wing. As they grow older and their adult feathers begin to come in, they begin to need less and less heat, and the hen lets them spend more and more time away from her.
When you order chicks from us or hatch your own chicks in an incubator, you have to supply them the warmth that they need. A heat lamp works great for this, (just be careful to get one that is safe to use with the chicks — if in doubt, you can order a heat lamp or brooder from us). The table below shows the temperature to keep the baby chicks at as they grow.
Week 1: 90-95 F
Week 2: 85-90 F
Week 3: 80-85 F
Week 4: 75-80 F
Week 5: 70-75 F
Week 6: 70 F
After the sixth week, you won’t need to supply any extra heat, unless it is unusually cold.
Like the mother hen, you can also tell whether your chicks are too hot or too cold by watching them. If they huddle together under the heat lamp, they are too cold. If they scatter away from the heat lamp and avoid the area directly under it, they are too warm. If they are evenly and randomly spread throughout the brooder, they are just right.
For more information about raising baby chicks, see our instructions on how to care for your baby chicks.