Baby chicks need heat to survive. Choose between a heat plate or lamp to keep the chicks warm until the baby chick’s feathers come in. Until baby chicks have their feathers they can not properly regulate their temperature. First time chick parents may find a thermometer helpful. Place the thermometer in the brooder near the heat source to ensure the temperature is in the right range. See our the Baby Chick Temperature Chart below for more details.
Of the two options a heater plate is more expensive but safer. The plate provides radiant heating with a stable base. While heat plates are more expensive (around $40) they have little to no risk of fire.
Heat lamps, on the other hand, can be purchased much cheaper (around $15) but they have a high risk of fire if certain cautions are not followed. Always use red heat bulbs for a chicken brooder. When using a lamp, always ensure it is well secured. Plan on the unknown happening! Ensure the device can not fall on any combustible material. Combustible materials include chicken bedding, wood, floors, even walls. These products have been known to fall apart, get bumped by a human or animal, or just to come unclamped. A fallen heat lamp will start a fire in just a couple minutes.
Start off by setting up the lamp bulb about 18 inches above the bedding surface and measure the temperature with a thermometer at the level of the bedding.