Baby chicks are delicate creatures with specific needs in the first days of life. Loss of body heat or dehydration due to overheating can be fatal. Newly hatched chicks are cold blooded and unable to maintain body heat. Floor brooding is a good option when a brood hen is unavailable to keep the chicks warm. Chicks are kept in a box or small pen with heat lamps or brooder heaters.
Prepare a wooden or thick cardboard box for the tiny chicks. Spread sawdust or wood shavings on the floor for insulation and protection from hip damage. Attach a thermometer to the box or pen at a level that matches the chicks' height.
Insert new bulbs into the heat lamp sockets. Hang the lamps over the centre of the pen or clamp them to the side panel of the box. The temperature at the chicks' height should be 35 degrees Cor the first week. Plug the lamps into an electrical source to warm the shavings on the floor of the box or pen.
Place newly hatched chicks into the box or pen.
Observe the chicks and watch where they stand or group together. Cold chicks will huddle directly under the heat lamp. Lower the height of the heat lamp. Overheated chicks will spread out as far as possible from the heat source. Raise the heat lamp slightly and monitor the temperature.
Check for any draft source that will affect the temperature and correct the problem.
Set up a gas hover or brooder heater on the floor of the field pen that houses a large number of newly hatched chicks. If you have more than 200 chicks, they should be placed in an area with a hover or brooder heat source.
Turn on the heating units to warm the shavings in the field pen.
Check the temperature at the chicks' height.
Set the chicks in the pen. Monitor the temperature and observe the chicks' movements. Move the heat source as needed.
Move the heat source to reduce the temperature by five degrees each week until an ambient temperature is reached in the area or the chicks have developed feathers.