Originally Posted by eagrbeavr
wonder if a ticking watch in the pad somewhere would sound comforting to them.
Nah, not necessary at all. They won't hear ticking when they are moved out to the coop, or in the coop if you start them out there, so they just don't need it. Why make a simple system harder than it has to be? These are, after all, chickens. Yep, folks love them and want to coddle them a bit, but having raised a flock of Divas and then comparing them to the ones I raised to be chickens, I can tell you the second (and third, and 4th) batches of chicks were more confident, curious, and stronger than the ones I overprotected. And with nothing more to worry about than getting them set up outside, making sure they had food and water, and protection from predators I was more confident and relaxed too.
I know the tendency is to want to complicate the entire system, and I can see by some of the recent posts that there is some confusion out there. I also understand that there is a lot of stuff covered in this thread and not everyone has time to start at the beginning and read it all the way through. So might I suggest that for those of you who are trying to figure out how this works, why it works, and how to set it up, head over to the first 4 or 5 pages of the thread and just focus there for a few minutes. There are a lot of ways to change the system to work better for individual situations, but as far as I've seen the simplest setup is still the most practical....a frame, a heating pad, and a place to brood them. Simple. I do use a towel, and for inside brooding I cover that towel with Press 'n Seal but for chicks outside I put nothing over it but a plain, uncovered towel and straw. That's it. When the chicks are inside (which is rare now) the covered towel makes it easy to just wipe off. Trying to do that outside is an exercise in futility, as I learned the hard way, so I use towels out of a stack of Goodwill towels that are too threadbare to use for anything else but cleaning jobs and raising chicks.
That said, I will be incorporating some changes in my setup based on a couple of very practical ideas shared here. I will be putting the heating pad on the INSIDE of the frame rather than draping it over the top. @Beekissed does it this way and it makes sense to avoid the possibility of chicks getting trapped. I was going to put the entire assembly inside a pillowcase as she does, but I have this whole big stack of about 30 towels that I can put to good use, so I'm going to stitch down two sides of the folded towel and use that "towel case" instead of a pillowcase. Same concept, just a different material. I have them on hand, whereas I don't have any spare pillowcases, so rather than spend money I don't need to spend I'll use what I already bought. Plus I've put the word out to friends and family not to toss those worn out towels but give them to me instead. I'll be using @azygous's portal system in my outside pen. Won't take that long to cut openings in the brooder pen and fit little doors in, and it will make integration with the flock even easier than simply wiring the end of the pen to a chick sized opening and hoping it stays that way.
But the basic idea is the same....I'll use the same frame I used for the last batches of chicks because it's still in perfect shape. I'll use the same heating pad, the same brooder pen, the same waterer and the same feeder. All of those things worked perfectly for me in the past, and if it ain't broke.........
Edited by Blooie - 2/8/16 at 7:35pm