Brooder Separate Heat & Light Combo - Inquiry

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by urbanutah, Mar 15, 2018.

  1. urbanutah

    urbanutah Chirping

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    We built our first brooder. My natural intuition and inclination says baby chicks raised by their mommy go to sleep at night under their mommy's feathers and it's dark. So, we designed the pictured set up with a full spectrum light bulb in the center (on a timer that turns on at dawn and off at dusk) and two 100w infrared ceramic bulbs on either side. We have adult hens, but these are our first baby chicks (we just picked up three - 3-day old chicks today). The ceramic heat lamp on the right is now connected to a temperature controller that shuts the heat lamp off when the temp in the brooder reaches 90 degrees. We had it at 95 degrees, but the chicks were panting (they are in my office, which is quite warm due to the heat lamps). I reduced the temp to 90 degrees and they seem much happier. My question is whether anyone has set up the lighting/heat this way? It seemed more natural so that's why it was designed this way, but I've now read things that claim that new baby chicks need light 24/7 so I'm confused as this certainly doesn't occur in nature. Can anyone elaborate on why baby chicks should have light on 24/7 if they have heat via an alternate source?
     

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  2. Rachealx4

    Rachealx4 Songster

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    I've been wondering the same. I use the EcoGlow for my chicks (3-4 wks) and turn off the lights at night for the sane reason you stated.
    I'll be interested in hearing the answer to your post.
     
  3. urbanutah

    urbanutah Chirping

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    I think my main question is whether they eat and drink on their own if it’s dark. I do have a warm white LED nightlight plugged in next to the brooder and it does cast dim illumination through the brooder at night. It is their first night and I want to make sure they will eat and drink if they need to with the minimal light they have from the night light .
     
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  4. cholland

    cholland Songster

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    I raise my chicks with a heating pad and no artificial light. They do fine. They sleep as long as it is dark, and will go eat/drink at first light. Even if I check with a flashlight I need to keep it dimmed or they will all coming running out.
     
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  5. urbanutah

    urbanutah Chirping

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    That is great to hear! That’s a clever idea for a more simplistic approach, I like it. So even though they are only three days old they are OK to sleep through the night if they choose not to eat or drink? I have no idea how hens care for their chicks. Maybe the chicks just sleep under them all night and then go out in the morning to eat/drink. My goal was to simulate a natural environment as best I could.
     
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  6. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida

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    You are on the right track. I hate artificial lights in brooders and coops.....it trashes their natural day/night cycles and leads to overeating just at the time their tiny digestive systems are beginning to mature. Temperature guidelines are outdated and in many cases dangerous. Chicks do far better getting cooled then hustling back for a quick warmup, totally self regulating - before we realize it, they’re back out learning about their world.

    I often wonder - if a 2 pound hen can do it with no books and no experts, why do we do it so differently and think we are doing it better? Brooding outdoors among the adults is exactly what she would do so that’s exactly what I do. Otherwise we’re raising spoiled divas, while she raises sound families ....no nightlights under her wings, no forays out every couple of hours during the night to eat and drink, and they thrive because that’s how their little bodies are geared to work and grow optimally. They’re rested, calm, and confident that they can be big chickens too. They have the courage to explore every bit of their environment - which includes us - because they always know where safety is if they need it. They eat dirt (getting natural grit, microbes, and fungi in the process) and chow down on chicken poop and weeds and any larger tidbits mom finds for them. That build up natural immunities.

    She’s not taking apples away, coring, peeling and chopping them before she lets them have them. She’s not checking goodies they find for germs or dirt before they eat it. And she’s not parked in one place as she dust bathes and forages....they have to learn how to find her if they need a snuggle. The only difference is that Mama Heating Pad is stationary. Mama Broody is not. I raised one batch of chicks using the conventional methods, then dumped that whole program and imitated a broody hen for the next 8 batches. I wasn’t stressed, the chicks weren’t stressed, and the adults weren’t stressed. Chicks were basically on the lowest setting for a few days by 3 weeks and integration was started then, then the Pad was turned off the beginning of the 4th week, they were mingling all day long with the Bigs, and midway through that 4th week the entire brooder was taken out and they were fully integrated with the flock. Every batch. Every time. And I should mention that Sprigtime “chick raising” temps here are in the 20s, sometimes dropping into the teens with high winds and sideways blowing snow.

    So worry less about the lights - turn them off as the sun goes down. Even better, turn them off before sundown and let them go to bed in that dusky twilight all on their own, since they’re preprogrammed for that.
     
  7. kklowell

    kklowell Songster

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    Blooie, you write well and with the voice of experience. I'm glad I found your MHP thread (and read every word) before we get our chicks, which will be soon. Because of that thread, when I heard the Blue Seal Feeds guy say chicks need the light 24/7 the other night I knew he was wrong. I like the "no stress" method you use. Thanks!
     
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  8. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida

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    Thanks. Most of it is just common sense, and I had excellent mentors!
     
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  9. urbanutah

    urbanutah Chirping

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    My Coop
    Okay, so you are my new chicken hero! Innately we know how to do it, we watch our flock and anyone who has animals of any kind knows their circadian rhythm is dawn to dusk, or the other way around for the nocturnals. I ended up adjusting the heat to 87 degrees as this is where they seemed most comfortable, they can mosey over directly under the infrared lamp if they want to be warmer. Our light timer is about 40 minutes after dawn and about 40 minutes before dusk so they have some natural light through the big windows at the start and end of their day. I have a rather small backyard flock, now 6 hens with our 3 new baby girls, we have only 3 adults. We originally adopted hens from a client of mine and they were older and lost a few to old age over the past two years, it was time to get babies. I wish I had a small farm so I had more room for a bigger coop and run, but I don't so integration is a little more challenging for me, but I've got a system that works. I will likely wait a bit longer to integrate, but I'm glad to know I've got the lighting and heat part of this process the way it should be. :) Thank you for your incredible insights; you are a beautiful writer as well.
     
  10. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida

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    Thanks. I guess I just learned to rely on writing rather than speaking because I had serious stuttering issues growing up. My stepdad (who much later adopted my sister and me) saw my frustration and told me that if something was important enough for me to try to say, it was important to him to know what that was. He suggested I write down thoughts that tended to exacerbate the stuttering because it seemed the more excited or upset I was the worse the stutter was. He promised that he’d read every word....and he did. And because the tension in my thoughts eased once I’d written them, we were then able to talk about it with far less stuttering over it. Now I hardly stutter at all, simply because writing taught me to slow my thoughts down. Speaking and writing are pretty similar. One requires you to slow down a bit so your mouth can keep up, the other so your fingers can keep up! Bless you, Dad!

    I’m so glad you had that “innate sense” that what we are told to do really doesn’t fit the reality of raising these little gems. I hope yours continue to thrive!
     
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