I love this method of raising chicks. It has worked so well for my last two small broods, and those babies have grown up happy, healthy and well-adjusted members of the flock.
This version is probably most modeled after aart 's Pseudo Brooder Heater ‘Plate’ but I was originally completely inspired by blooie's Mama Heating Pad and I'm so thankful for both of them and many other BYC members for posting about their experiences.
Here's how I built my chick heater:
I'm going to call this first piece a tray. It's actually a plastic lid from a square bucket that flowers were delivered in. Many grocery store flower shops receive their shipments in these. I thought about using a metal cooling rack, and I was also going to use a very thin piece of plywood, but this tray just happened to be the exact size of my heating pad. I drilled holes in 4 corners to make room later for adjustable legs.
I put the heating pad right on top.
Flipped it over so I could wrap a cozy hand towel around it.
Then fastened the ends together with safety pins.
I used ball bungee ties to secure the towel to the tray so there wouldn't be any sagging. I didn't have these last year so I just used nylon twine and tied around as tight as I could.
Ok, time to add the legs. I wanted the back end to be much lower than the front so I only used the bolts on the front side to start with and just let the back end touch the ground. For each leg, I used a 6" carriage bolt and (2) ¼" hex nuts. I threaded the first nut down not quite halfway to support the tray from underneath, and another on top to hold it in place.
This isn't absolutely 100% sturdy, but it won't collapse or fall over.
I made the front to be about 3" high with the back sloping toward the ground, so chicks would be able to find their comfort spot somewhere in between.
So then it was finally time to get it plugged in and warmed up for when the chicks arrive!
In a few days, the chicks will usually spend a lot of time perching on top of the heating pad, so I keep it covered it with cardboard and add another perch up there for them to hang out.
My brooder is located near a window so they can have natural daylight all day long. I think it's so amazing that little babies know it's time to go to bed when the sun sets, even though sometimes they complain about it. Here's a video... after little Mocha already went under the heating pad for the night, but Jelly Bean got left behind and started to get loud when she realized she was alone in the setting sun. So I just had to remind her what to do.
Apparently, heating pads that don't have an auto shut-off are getting very difficult to find these days. Here are a few links for online retailers that offer shipping:
Amazon Milliard Electric Therapy Heating Relief
Amazon Sunbeam UltraHeat (2pk)
Bed Bath & Beyond Sunbeam Xpress Heat King
ebay Sunbeam UltraHeat Standard
Recent User Reviews
"Very good an cost effective implementation"
- 5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed May 13, 2019
Very good example of how to build a ridiculously expensive priced piece of equipment yourself for a fraction of what it would cost at the store.
Nice step by step guidance, supported by good pictures.FlappyFeathers likes this.