Originally Posted by Thiriel
Thanks, aart, I didn't know about those two points. I know I would have been nervous about the babies burning themselves and I probably would have made it so they couldn't quite touch it. I might also have to find a solution (or get my bf to make something) that will make the blanket switch to batteries in case of an outage. I know how the local utility prioritizes restoring people and it doesn't start with the people who live out in the boonies!
Also if ever there is an outage, will the babies be alright for a few hours, if no one is home to turn it back on?
Nothing to worry about....well, they're chicks so there's always SOMETHING to worry about, but for the most part it's a pretty worry-free way to raise chicks.
I raise my chicks outdoors almost from day one....if I have shipped chicks I keep them in for a day or so to make sure they are eating, drinking, know where the heat is, and to keep an eye out for shipping stress. Incubator chicks are outside the day after they hatched when I know they are doing well.
I had a power outage here. One April night Ken and I went to bed, the winds were howling and snow was blowing sideways. I had week old chicks outside under Mama Heating Pad. The power must have gone out shortly after we went to bed at 11. He woke up to the sound of the power coming back on at 4 am. He threw off the covers yelling "the chicks!" We bundled up and went out there, and I fully expected to find my little ones frozen stiff. Nope. Their straw cave combined with their own body heat maintained enough warmth to sustain them during the entire outage. The cave wasn't "warm" in the sense that we think of needing to have with chicks, but they were just fine. In fact, they were much more upset with us shining a flashlight into their cave and pulling them out to do a head count than they were not having power for so long! So we turned the pad back on and reset the "Stay On" feature and went back to bed. The next morning (or later that morning!) when I went out they were running around all over the place. As far as they were concerned nothing had even happened! You have to remember that it was in the teens that night, winds were at 60 mph, it was snowing like crazy, and they were outside in their wire brooder in the run, not in the coop!
One of our members, @henless uses a heating pad that not only turns itself back on in the event of an outage, it even remembers the last setting! Several other members have opted for this pad based on her recommendation. This is the link to that pad:
As for getting trapped, I've never had it happen but a few people have so the modifications made for that eventuality are pretty simple. If you have the "cave" open at the back as well as the front chicks that get shoved to the back can still get out when the ones in front don't want to get out of the way. The risk of them being trapped between the wires and the pad are eliminated by putting the pad on the inside of the frame. @Beekissed uses this setup and she's one of first to use MHP - I kinda sorta got the idea from her. I have also switched over to this configuration. The link to the page where it's discussed, along with some of @Beekissed's concise and clear photos, is here on this page:
No fires reported, no sparks, my chicks have never bothered the cord but I imagine if you are worried about it you could slip the cord into a small cut section of garden hose or conduit where it is actually within their reach. One thing I do recommend is to use electrical tape on your connections, where the cord plugs into the pad and then if you are using a extension cord (heavy duty outdoor rated cord!!) to keep moisture out, but that's not just with MHP, that's just common sense anytime you are using something electrical outdoors.
You do know that photos of your chicks are your Broody Brigade membership dues, right? So as soon as those little stinkers get here and get settled, get out that camera!
Edited by Blooie - 12/16/16 at 7:06am