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Can Baby Chicks Be In The Sun?

The thing to remember about baby chicks is that while they are uber adorable, they are also uber vulnerable. Baby chicks should never be left in the sun without a shady place to escape to.

This is because, as chicks, they have not developed the means of regulating body temperature. And while it is possible to snuggle up to mother hen or another chick in order to get warm, there is very little they can do to cool off once they have gotten too hot.

Combs And Wattles

As a member of the fowl community, chickens do not sweat like mammals. They regulate body temperature by means of their combs and wattles.

For those who might be new to chickens, combs are the fleshy appendages found on top of their heads and wattles are the fleshy appendages directly under their chin.

These two organs effectively act as heat sinks.

When the internal temperature of a chicken is high, then extra blood is pumped through the comb and wattle, where exposure to outside air is high. This allows body heat to radiate out and away from the chicken’s body.

Likewise, when the internal temperature is too low, blood flow is limited in order to retain as much heat as possible.

(For an in-depth look at this, please read, ‘Do Hens Have Combs And Wattles?’)

The reason baby chicks should never be left unsupervised in the sun, is because their combs and wattles have not yet developed.

Think of running your work computer without any cooling fan. If things get too hot, then you can burn your computer up.

It’s the same way with baby chicks. They are very limited on how they can get rid of any unwanted heat. And if they get too hot, things can be fatal.

Baby Chicks: Signs Of Overheating

A common indicator that your baby chick is suffering from too much heat is panting. If you see a baby chick sprawled out, with its wings stretched out from its body and panting, then it is advisable for you to take immediate action.

Remember, this is wings out from its body and panting, not just wings outstretched. It is not uncommon for baby chicks to get ‘cozy’ under the heat lamp from time to time. So long as they are not panting, they should be fine.

Ways To Cool Baby Chicks

If you find yourself in a situation where your baby chicks have gotten overheated, here are some things you can do to help them cool off.

  • Remove the heat – If you are using a heat lamp or heating pad, the first thing you should do is to stop the heat source. Think of gasoline on a fire. If you are trying to put a fire out, then you should first deal with what is fueling the problem.
  • Use a cooling fan – A fan blowing over the brooder can help remove excessive heat and cool the baby chicks. It doesn’t necessarily have to blow directly on the chicks, but simply blowing over the brooder should help lower the temperature of them and their environment.
  • Cold water in the waterer – Baby chicks will drink to cool off. If you put a couple of pieces of ice inside the waterer, the ice should float to the top (where the chicks can’t accidentally eat it and hurt themselves). This will not only help to cool the water, but the surrounding area.
  • Cold treats – It should be noted that this means cold treats and NOT frozen treats. Chickens do not chew their food and if they swallow a piece of something that is frozen, it could hurt them.

Normally, I do not recommend giving baby chicks anything but starter feed as their growth during the first eight weeks is phenomenal and they need all the protein and nutrition they can get. However, if I knew that the chicks were having difficulty staying cool, then some cold watermelon from the fridge could go a long way towards keeping them from over-heating.