For my Spring Ducklings of 2019 i did not want to use a heat-lamp for two reasons: First it is a fire hazard, regardless how well it is secured, second and more important to me, i want the ducklings to be able sleep during the night without a harsh light shining at them, thus getting used to a normal day and night cycle.
After reading about the Mama Heating Pad (MHP) i decided to build a duckling version. Ducklings like to pile up on top of each other for their sleeping time and they also grow taller by the day so they need some more head-room so i created the »Momma Heat Cave« (MHC).
I bought below metal-basket from the local $-store, which if turned upside down, has a nice cave-like entrance:
- A solid metal basket, not too small not too large for the number of ducklings you want to raise. Keep in mind that ducklings do like to sleep piled up together, not only for warmth, they need the contact to feel safe! I found my basket at a $-store, but they are also available online or at stores carrying bathroom paraphernalia. Always use a metal basket, plastic might deform under the influence of the heat-pad!
- A heat-pad that roughly matches your basket, i found mine online for a few dollars. Important is, that you don't buy a heat pad with an automatic shut-off, controlled by a timer. The heat-pad should stay on when you turn it on. Having several different heat-settings is also a must, mine has three. During the day i set it to »medium« during the night to »high«. I expect that to change when the ducklings grow larger.
- A roll of duct-tape. - Wherever you put duct-tape on the basket, make sure that there are no glue-patches exposed. That stuff sticks like hell when it is warm and could injure a duckling.
The small wire feet were easy to bend flat using a pair of pliers. The back-side of the basket was taped shut with a double layer of duct-tape, extra care was taken to avoid any glue being exposed to curious ducklings.
And then the heat-pad was draped around the basket length-wise. This step is much easier when the heat-pad is warm - i turned it to medium - and the plastic cover is somewhat malleable. The heat-pad is then fixed with duct-tape on all sides and the MHC should look like this:
I secured the heat-pad cable to the back of the MHC, so that no duckling can chew on it, stumble or use it to climb out:
A test run with the heat pad set to "medium" revealed that the temperature inside reached 32.5°C (90F) with a room temperature of 21°C (70F) - sufficient for even the smallest duckling.
I have installed the MHC in the brooder for the 2019 Spring Ducklings and the birds loved it immediately! Over the day they stuffed their little bellies full, went into the cave and slept for an hour, then came back out to stuff their bellies, …
Overnight they slept undisturbed without any artificial light, quiet, sometimes a gentle happy-chirp and they got out in the morning refreshed and strong. Here is a picture, taken at nighttime into the MHC:
As you can see each duckling has chosen its sleeping spot matching its personal preference.
- The ducklings have grown a lot in one week and it became too warm for the largest to sleep inside, so i cut out a corner of a cardbord-box and placed it as an extension to the side of the MHC:
- Went shopping for some pine-shavings today and found two good example products at KMart that can be easily turned into MHCs:
Think out of the box! And visit the Momma Heat Cave Album for more pictures.
Building a Momma Heat Cave for Ducklings
Inspired by the article »Brooding with Mama Heating Pad« from @Blooie, started to develop something similar for my 2019 Spring Ducklings. The...