Brooder temp 95 or heat lamp 18 inches which one do I go with??


In the Brooder
So here it goes, I need your advice guys.

My chicks should be arriving next month in at the beginning of April

I keep reading the Brooder temperature is supposed to be 90-95ish for correct temperature. To ensure this I even bought my handy dandy tractor supply Brooder Thermometer that has the "X weeks old/temp recommendation`s" on it. (2 of them in fact just to be that extra prepared)

I also keep reading the heat lamp is supposed to be 18 inches from the chick height to the lamp itself so getting my tape measure out I measured that exact height to the bottom of the bulb hanging in the middle to a few inches from bottom.

Here is my dilemma......

When the heat lamp is at set 18 inch height from 3 inches from bottom of brooder (chick height) to bottom of bulb above, the temperature is well above 95, it goes up to like low 100`s or something like that using said Brooder thermometer. That is of course when I place the thermometer in the area directly under the light. Of course the further out it goes the cooler the temperature to the sides that are chilly.

Is this the norm? if so why say for the brooder to be 95? why not say what its supposed to be directly under the light? should I make the center 95 or stick with 18 inch height with higher middle temperature lol!

The stats on the brooder are as follows for info to assist in your very welcome assessment's:

5ftx5ftx2 feet height custom built using plywood and 2x4`s with a producers pride red heat lamp 250W in the center.

I know some will say they never use thermometer`s and just eye gauge it based on where the chicks are huddled vs scattered but this being my first batch of chickens that I have been waiting to order since the dawn of time it seems like now, I want it perfect as can be from day 1 and adjust from there if needed.

Thank you very much in advance to help me crack this nut!

The brooder temp should be around 90 the first week, then lower the temp by 5 degrees each week. You can raise the heat lamp, so the temps inside are not too hot. If you put the lamp more to one side, and their food, and water furthest from the heat lamp, that works best. The chicks will self-regulate that way, and move to the cooler side when they're warm, or back to the warmer side as needed.
Before you spend any money on a heat lamp please read these articles/threads:

As for space in your brooder: chicks double their size every week. by the time they are 2 - 3 weeks old, they should have a minimum of 2 s.f. of open floor space per chick! If you brood your chicks in the house, an appliance box makes a great brooder. But many of us have found that it's preferable to brood the chicks outside, right in their coop!

I strongly encourage you go get your coop before your chicks arrive. Then, you can brood them in the coop.

Brian, I just went back and read more of your post. I'm glad you have a nice sized brooder. Are you brooding in the house? If so, you can ditch that 250W bulb. Most likely they will need somewhere between 75 - 150W, only to create a very small footprint of heated space big enough for them all to lounge under. I'm hoping that reading @Blooie 's articles and thread will convince you that MHP is a much preferred way to brood chicks!!!!
Or skip the fussing totally and use something besides the heat lamp. There are a couple of different commercial brooder plates that are available and the chicks just go underneath them when they want to warm up. A lot of us have gotten totally away from heat lamps and can't really budget for a brooder plate, so we just use a heating pad. That works great, too. Frankly, heat lamps scare the pee-wadding out of me and can be hard to adjust sometimes. Most people use them very successfully, so if you still want to that's absolutely fine. Just make sure it's secure, then secure it, and when you think it's secure secure it one more time! But you have time left before your chicks arrive, and I just wanted to let you know that there are options.

Edited to add: Great minds, LG! ;)
I was going to mention the brooder plates, but when getting started, they can be a little cost prohibitive. A good 75 - 100 watt bulb is normally pretty safe, and a good way to go, until finances permit the brooder plates.
3riverschick and getaclue, thank you very much for the direct response to my question on hand, it is very much appreciated, but just to clarify, your stating it should be 90 degrees directly under the bulb, not the whole brooder itself right? reason I ask is with it being 5x5feet large, the outer rims stay relatively cool when I had it running for several hours to test it.
lazy gardner, the room is a small bedroom unheated on the side of the house where this large brooder is, gets pretty chilly in there at night right now here in the mountains. that and with the brooder being as large as it is, even with the 250W it still doesn't get the edges of it toasty so if the chicks wish to cool themselves they have more then enough room on the outer rims for that as it is with this 250W.
Bluie, I initially looked into the overhead heating plates but like you said, very very expensive for the large size. My properly secured heat lamp, triple secured by the way (drilled to the 2x4 into the ceiling , arm clamp on brooder and another chain on the top attachment to the brooder) I will look more into the heat pads though for future broods though as the cheaper alternative because that sounds interesting and I have not really seen anything on that yet so very interesting news to know but for now and for this hatch I will be using the heat lamp and am just trying to ensure I get the correct temperatures for them with it.
I`m sure most of it is me bewildered as to why everything I read in books and how-to-guides state 18 inches, 18 inches and 90-95 degrees when the two do NOT match up in real life application. Perhaps that works with a lower wattage bulb and I looked into that to see if it were the case but everything I cam up with does not differentiate between 250 watt and lower.
This is what I love about this site is you can get first hand information from people that have been there and done that and can pass their experiences on to you and not have to rely on information that may have been regurgitated over and over again because it is the norm on paper but not necessarily true on actual application.
If anyone else has anything else to add about the heat lamp temp that backs the others up or if you have experienced anything different please feel free to offer your experiences, I cant be the only one that has run into this issue the two rules of thumbs not matching up with the heat lamp height/temp and would love for this to be available for others like me that are trying to learn as we go.

just to clarify, your stating it should be 90 degrees directly under the bulb, not the whole brooder itself right? reason I ask is with it being 5x5feet large, the outer rims stay relatively cool when I had it running for several hours to test it.
You do not want the whole brooder to be 90°F. It needs to have a heated area and cooler areas so that the chicks can come and go between the heat and cool as they feel the need. The food and water should be out away from the heated area.

You must also measure the temperature at the bedding level. If you measure the air temperature, the bedding where the chicks are will be far too hot. Most of the information that I have read says to adjust the temperature so the chicks are comfortable rather than giving a set temperature to go by. If the chicks are huddled tightly together, then they need to be warmer, if they are as far away from the heat source as they can get, it is too hot.
I don't know why different places give different heat lamp recommendations- probably just to confuse us!

I agree that you should set your heat lamp so it's 90/95 right under it, not to 18 inches. Not only are the temperature recommendations seemingly more common than the height ones, they also seem more reliable- the heat given off by a bulb at 18 inches high will depend on ambient temperature, weather conditions, brooder material, bedding, and bulb wattage, among other things, whereas 90 degrees is always 90 degrees. So I think the consistent temp reading would be more reliable, as you know for sure what they're saying.

I love the sound of your brooder- seems like they should have plenty of room to roam and regulate their own temperatures. Chicks do generally need less heat than feeds stores and their ilk claim, but I absolutely understand the feeling of wanting to be sure they won't chill. I don't think I could have tried MHP my first time brooding either, no matter how many people on the internet told me it was a good idea; the nice lady at the feed store said heat lamp, so I used a heat lamp! They work fine, as long as you're careful (which it sound like you absolutely are- triple secured, wow!), although I do definitely urge you to consider MHP in the long run.

I hope you have fun with your chicks, once they finally arrive :) So exciting!

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