How Long Do Chicks Need a Heat Lamp?

Baby chicks require a reliable heat lamp for the first 8-10 weeks of their lives. Afterward, these small birds are more feathered and robust enough to withstand slightly colder temperatures. However, this depends on the chicken breed because some varieties like Dutch Bantam, Booted Bantam, and Belgian Bearded d’Uccle suffer most in the cold.

On the contrary, other breeds like Jersey Giant, Delaware, Austalorps, Dominique, Plymouth Rock, and Rhode Island Reds are cold tolerant and have better-surviving rates in winter. Even so, all newly hatched chickens need to stay under a constant supply of heat because their bodies cannot control temperature on their own.

Why do Chicks Need a Heat Lamp?

Like other warm-blooded animals, chickens need a heat lamp to maintain their body temperature within the normal range. Please consider that their body temperature remains steady based on the outside environment.

During the first couple of weeks, recently hatched chicks require a heat lamp even in the middle of summer. Nonetheless, if you live in a hot climatic environment, you may not require a heat lamp after the fourth week.

Chicks living in garages or barns that sometimes drop to 60 °F need additional heat up to week six or when they get fully feathered. You can consult an expert or a proven heat table when unsure if your feathered pet friends require heat lamps or not.

The good thing is that you can tell if your birds are too hot or cold by how they behave. For instance, huddling together can indicate that the coop is too chilly.

On the other hand, birds sleeping far away from a heat source point out extra warmth. Sometimes, this can be normal when the chicks feel like cooling down. Another warning sign is excess panting while spreading their wings out.

Adjust the heat source accordingly or place it close to the floor to make the room colder in such a scenario. Also, pivot the lamp in a corner to target a specific coop portion.

Are Heat Lamps Safe for Chicks?

Heat lamps can be disastrous when used without precaution. For a long time, there have been several reported cases of the heat source burning down coops and hurting an entire flock in the process. Usually, this happens when they fall on dry wood shavings, pine chips, poop, or any flammable material. One necessary measure is to secure the heat lamps securely and minimize risks.

Still, you can invest in safer options, especially when leaving the chicks during the day. Some include ceramic heaters, hot water bottles, heated pads, rice socks, thick beddings, regular bulbs, and so forth. In the long run, ensure that your chicks remain warm without getting into trouble.

Will Chicks Die Without a Heat Lamp?

In frigid climates, chicks can quickly die without a heat lamp or any other heat supply. The first thing you may notice about freezing birds is a loud chirping sound. Moreover, the legs may feel too cold or appear swollen and puffy.

You may have to dry the towel and blow-dry your chicks on a low setting to minimize fatalities. In some cases, cup your birds from behind to help them retain body warmth. Cupping is also ideal to ensure that the birds do not burn or become extremely hot in the coop.

Other causes of chick deaths include poor ventilation, excess humidity, inadequate diet, predators, and common poultry ailments. Vaccinations are an ideal solution when preventing most chicken diseases like Marek Disease, Fowl Pox, Coccidiosis, Newcastle, and Infectious Bronchitis.

It is crucial to follow recommended vaccination programs from verified sources. In addition, ask for vaccination certificates from suppliers when buying pullets or chicks.

What is the Best Temperature for Chicks?

Experts recommend a standard temperature range of about 70 to 95 °F for growing chicks. The minimum required temperature for hatching and embryonic development should be approximately 82 °F.

After hatching, ensure that the baby chicks stay in a coop of about 95 °F temperature from week one. As they grow older, the birds can comfortably tolerate a deduction of five degrees every week. Keep on reducing the heat until they reach 55 °F.

The birds are old enough to transfer from the brooder to the coop by week six. If the chicks are well-feathered, you may not need to add supplemental heat in the enclosure, especially if the outside temperature remains above 65 °F.

When making the transition, introduce the baby chicks to colder temperatures slowly. You can switch off the heat supply for a couple of hours during the day. Above all, keep the coop warm enough with other heating options like beddings, hot water bottles, or warm rice socks.

Still, avoid making it too hot to prevent overheating. Generally, temperatures above 100 °F can trigger heat stress or other related conditions, including death. Prolonged exposure plus high humidity can be an uncomfortable combination likely to keep your birds depressed.

Do You Keep the Heat Lamp On All the Time?

There is nothing wrong with keeping the heat lamp on 24/7. As mentioned above, several things may go wrong with heat lamps in some cases. Most importantly, install red infrared bulbs for a more natural appeal than steady white ones. Infrared bulbs are also perfect for maintaining a healthy sleeping pattern and minimizing pecking activities.

All things considered, only keep the heat lamps on when necessary. If it is too hot outside and the chicks are over six weeks, it is time to turn it off or use other alternatives.

Can a Heat Lamp Burn Your Chicks?

A heat lamp will only burn chicks if they contact it. Basically, this happens when farmers fail to fix them well.  On that note, keep your birds safe by following required regulations when installing heat lamps or during use. Also, avoid relying on the hanging clamp only. Instead, use chains and zip ties to secure them better.


Heat lamps are some of the cheapest heating options around. A 250 watts lamp bulb plus a heat lamp fixture works magic, especially for farmers who brood less often. Unfortunately, heat lamps are fire hazards and likely to overheat chicks if misused. Hopefully, this article guides you on the proper usage of a heat lamp.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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