Heat lamp on while not home?
- Crazy for Silkies
The chicks need supplemental heat, so don't turn that off!
There's no fire hazard unless your setup is extravagantly unsafe. Sadly, many are. With only a few chicks, the most straightforward thing to do is to realize that you don't need much heat at all, and that non-scary, not-very-powerful bulbs will do the job nicely. For just four chicks and indoor brooding, a 35-watt indoor floodlight bulb is more than sufficient, while being too feeble to represent much of a hazard. A 250-watt bulb is good for 75 chicks. Since you only have about 1/20 as many chicks, you only need about 1/20th the wattage, to warm up a circle of 1/20th the size. But they don't make floodlight bulbs that small, so you'll end up settling for one that's bigger than you need -- 35 watts, say.
I have a blog post about this at http://www.plamondon.com/wp/5-brooder-lamp-safety-tips/
I use a heating pad cave. The chicks love it.