Brooder Light bulbs


8 Years
Mar 3, 2011
Eastern CT
Hey everyone
I am a bit confused regarding brooder light bulbs. I was initally planning on purchasing a red 250W light bulb to put in my brooder lamp. Then I read that those give off too much heat and can overheat the chicks, and a regular 100w incandesent light bulb works best. THEN I read that incandesenct light bulbs should only be used in the last stages of brooding, and you should use a red heat bulb for the beginning. So I then I was back on the red bulb bandwagon until I read a huge post about red bulbs exploding, and that you should use a ceramic heat emitter. Phew! I guess what my question is is what should I use? What has worked best for everyone? I don't get my chicks until the end of June so I have a long time to get the bulb. The internet is great but it seems that there is a lot of contradictions! I appreciate any help. Thanks!


11 Years
Jan 10, 2010
Vacationland, Maine
I use a red 250 watt bulb. No explosions here, but I have had a burn out in the middle of the night from a cheap bulb (everyone survived the "chill").

Remember with the 250 watt bulb that you can raise and lower it to get the desired amount of warmth. I make sure to double hang mine (and triple if I can) for safety as of course it gets hot.


(hung from the ceiling from 1 chain and 2 hooks plus attached to brooder.)
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10 Years
Aug 27, 2009
I use a 250 red heat bulb for the 1st week only as the wee ones need to stay toasty. You can adjust its height to avoid overheating. I have yet to have one explode, but they do not have a particularly long life. My chicks are brooded in sheep stock tanks in my utility room.

After week one, I switch to a ceramic heat emitter. I love these as they last forever-- but they are spendy, about $34-50 a bulb depending on the heat output you purchase. I also feel that the chicks are calmer from having a natural dark night time period like they would with a hen. They are also useful for supplementing winter heat without artificially extending day length which I prefer since I feel nature intended for birds to have a break from laying.

Farming Frenzy

6 Years
Mar 23, 2013
Kerikeri New Zealand
I too am wanting to find a decent bulb for my new brooder. D you think reptile lamps are ok? My dad uses one for his bee incubator and I figured it could work... All the books I read said 100watts was fine, so isn't 250watts really hot!?


In the Brooder
6 Years
Jun 19, 2013
I too am wanting to find a decent bulb for my new brooder. D you think reptile lamps are ok? My dad uses one for his bee incubator and I figured it could work... All the books I read said 100watts was fine, so isn't 250watts really hot!?
That's what I've been using, a 100 watt red reptile bulb. I originally bought the 250watt red bulbs and was shocked to find that on the box it doesn't say that it's infrared, but the bulb itself does say infrared. I didn't want my chicks to fry under the infrared. So far, the reptile bulb is working perfectly. I will be returning the 3 infrared bulbs. I think the packaging is very misleading, since it only says they are "heat lamps", but doesn't mention infrared.


In the Brooder
6 Years
Jun 10, 2013
Yakima, WA
I used a 100 watt red bulb in my brooder and it worked well. The caveat is that I have a fairly small brooder so I could see an issue with larger ones.


In the Brooder
6 Years
Jun 3, 2013
I'm using a 250w red bulb right now. Unfortunately Home Depot did not have a 125w in red. So far (only a day) the chicks seem to be able to sleep with it on. Since its summer I'm hoping that I can ween them off it within a week or two as they are on my sun porch and my bigger concern is them getting too hot on a 90+ degree day (not that we have a ton of those).


6 Years
Apr 24, 2013
I realize that this is an old post but I'll add my 2cents in anyways

I used multiple bulbs and changed them depending on the weather. My chicks started off inside and I used a normal 60ish watt white bulb. It burnt out in the middle of the night and although the chicks were all very scared, they all survived. Around 2-3wks of age I kicked them outside and gave them a 150 white light bulb. I tried to give them a 250w one a few times and they freaked out big time and wouldn't go anywhere near the night no matter how high I put it. My brooder was a large wire dog crate that was sitting on brackets on my garage wall, I had a lot of options when it came to hanging the lamp.

So as you can see I used white light, which I've read from many many people is a no-no because it over stimulates the chicks.....I disagree. My chicks have always been perfectly healthy and happy. They have never picked on each other or had any issues of any kind. Maybe it's because my chicks were always given white light not red, even in the store I bought them.


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