Brooder heat question

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by tweetysvoice, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. tweetysvoice

    tweetysvoice Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So maybe I'm being too anal about this, but I'm looking for some opinions. I'm getting my chicks in two weeks and I've set up my brooder. I had it perfect, but just changed out the clip light to one with a ceramic socket. This light is quite a bit bigger than the other I had set up, so I'm having troubles situating it so the temp is exactly 95 degrees. At first it was 105, way too hot - then I moved it on-top of the cage - where it would only get to 85. I cut out some of the top wires, put it back on the inside only raised a bit, and now I can get it to 93 degrees. Think this would be ok? I believe, from the posts i'm reading, that a bit cooler is better than hotter, but I'd like someone else's opinion that's been there. If you like, you can see the set-up of my brooder here: (Note: this is BEFORE i switched out the lamp to a ceramic socket) https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/brooder-from-a-small-animal-cage
     
  2. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    I find my chicks are WAY too hot at 95. I've found that mine prefer to be in the 85-90 range. (I don't use a thermometer anymore, I just watch the chicks) When you get the chicks, watch them. If they are cold, they will peep very loudly and be huddled in a pile. If they are too hot, they will be spread out far and can be panting. You want somewhere in between where they are cruising around, sleeping close but not on top of each other.

    They are tougher than you think with the cold. I had day old chicks in this, with a heat lamp in it of course:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
  3. tweetysvoice

    tweetysvoice Chillin' With My Peeps

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    oh wow.. so maybe I was better when it was hovering between 85-87 degrees. Okay. Thanks for the response. I'll be sure to keep an eye on them! How soon after I get them will they react the the light? I'm taking the day off work the day that they come in so I can watch them, but didn't know if they would be in some sort of shipping shock for the first few days or not, like other animals are.
     
  4. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    You'll know within the first few hours. They may be a bit chilled when you get them, so it will take a bit for them to warm up. Like I said, just watch their behavior and you'll know when they are too hot.

    Dip their beaks in water and then lift them back up to let them swallow. They will find the food on their own.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
  5. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Tweety, the easiest way to adjust temp is to invest in a rheostat (lamp dimmer). I made several for only a couple dollars apiece but you can buy a lamp dimmer for around $10 which will do the same thing. Just plug the heat lamp into the rheostat, and adjust the temperature by turning the dial up or down. It saves a lot of hassle moving the lamp up or down!
     
  6. tweetysvoice

    tweetysvoice Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's a brilliant idea, HeChicken! Thank you. That's something I can easily use and then re-use in a different part of the house when they are out of the brooder!
     
  7. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I just wanted to mention that I use 100 watt bulbs in my brooder- up to three of them at once in winter. So if 150 watts is too much you can use a 100 watt one but the light will be white (that's all I use anyway). I work my way down to 60 watts to wean them sometimes. Or just one 100 watt bulb.

    I make a "carport" for them with a tiny cardboard box if the number of chicks in the brooder is small enough with a cut out small cardboard box, so they don't have to stare at the bright light when they want to sleep. When I brood larger numbers though, I put them in the shed coop so quickly that it isn't an issue. They are outside by 3 weeks old running in and out of the shed on grass range (that is my status now...three weeks old and in/out of the shed with 3- 100 watt bulbs).
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
  8. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    The thermometer is fine for "pre testing" and discovering what your heating capabilities are. But the best way is to simply observe the chicks. If they huddle and peep loudly? They are cold. If they stand apart, and hold their wings out, they are cooking dangerously.

    I normally provide a "hot spot" where the chicks can warm themselves and sleep, if they wish. But it is essential to provide a large area that is significantly cooler for them to go and self regulate.
     
  9. beefmaster

    beefmaster Out Of The Brooder

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    i used to use a drop light with a 60 watt bulb in it to keep the chicks warm.t seemed like 100 watts was to hot.
     
  10. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

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    I had the same issue -- couldn't get the warm zone "perfect" with a thermometer. It didn't help that the ambient temperature was swinging by 40 degrees over 24 hours (outdoor brooder, typical spring weather). But, the brooder was big enough relative to the heat spot created by the light that the chicks could escape the heat as needed. They self-regulated by sleeping at the edges of the light vs. the center or even away from the light on warmer days. I'm just not convinced that a brooder needs the temperature to be so exact since it just plain isn't when you brood outdoors and that is what farmers have done forever. If you think about it, a hen doesn't change her body temperature -- the chicks adjust by gradually spending less time in contact with her. So, I ditched the thermometer and paid attention to the chicks instead. Their behavior answered the question for me.

    Now, I will say that brooding in a small space, brooding in a container that holds the heat (the popular Rubbermaid storage tote, for example), and brooding in warm ambient temperatures does put the chicks at risk of overheating. In those cases, you do need to pay a whole lot more attention to detail. Having cool air available to them is just as important as having heat available.
     

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