April has pros and cons for raising chicks. A big pro is having the pullets start laying in the fall and continuing through the winter. A big con is the weather.
This year my chicks were to arrive on a Wednesday. It was a nice warm spring day. Perfect for settling new chicks in.
The chicks were delayed. The weather turned cold. They arrived huddled in the box trying to keep warm. Their new quarters weren’t warm enough. Keeping them warm is critical to raising chicks.
Changing to a larger light bulb solved the warmth problem. I do use a heat lamp so the heat is directed downward. I do not use a heat bulb. Instead I have an array of wattages from 60 to 100 to 150.
When cold weather moves in, the largest bulb goes in. When the temperatures go up, the size of the bulb can go down. The chick house is remodeled against predators, but temperature fluctuations move in.
It’s hard to keep all the chicks together for the first day or two. So I move an old wire cage into the chick house. This has three advantages.
First is keeping the chicks together and under the light. Surrounding the cage with cardboard contains the heat when temperatures really drop. Draping blankets over it will keep chicks warm through frosts.
Second is giving an extra protection from black snakes. I have learned that these creatures can fit into crevices I don’t even see.
Third is ease of cleaning. I put down layers of newspaper in three sheet groups. Each day I can roll up a layer leaving the chicks with a clean floor with a minimum of trauma for them. clean quarters is important for raising chicks.
This year the temperatures decided to soar when the chicks were a few days old. The cage was getting cramped and couldn’t be kept cool enough. So the chicks moved out into the chick house proper.
The chicks are delighted with all the room. I haven’t changed to a smaller bulb as cooler weather is coming in. Instead the top of the double door and a window are open. Small bugs fly in to amuse the chicks.
This may be a makeshift arrangement, but it works for me and the chicks. And that is all that matters.