Brooding outside


10 Years
Feb 3, 2013
Hi All, I need some advice..

I am planning on picking up some chicks this weekend (5). My brooder is a large 55 gallon rubbermaid tub. I am going to cut the top off and fit with chicken wire and cut an opening on the side for window placement (plexiglass). I am also setting up a MHP heating pad.

My plan is to set this all up on my back porch. My concern is for the next month it is going to be in the 50-60 during the day but 30's at night. I feel like that is really cold at night?

I could bring them in for night time but I don't have a place that is cool at night. My basement is pretty warm and I'm worried about the huge flucuation between day/night temps if I do this.

It's too cold for chicks both day and night. I think the temperature for very young chicks is about 84-90 F.
I would set the brooder outdoors tonight like you have planned, with everything in place and running, then go out with a thermometer and check the temperatures inside the brooder and under the heating pad tonight and tomorrow night. Also check if there's any draft. If the heating pad can hold around 90-95 degrees and there's not cold air gusting into the box I would think you should be fine.

Alternatively you could start indoors for about a week and then move the entire set up outside, as it should warm up a little more each week.
Is your porch predator proof? Your temps will be fine with the MHP system. My chicks are brooded here in Maine, in April in a grow out coop with night time temps dipping into 20's and day time temps from high 30's to occasional low 60's. My chicks do just fine, and wean themselves off that heat by the time they are 4 - 5 weeks old, at which time the temps can vary between night time 30's and day time low 70's. If your porch is predator proof, I'd ditch the tote, and put them in a cardboard appliance box so they will have more room.
I think you should be just fine. We have chicks in a coop inside an open (HC covered) brooder. They have a MHP in there and the nights were in the 40s. Last night was high 30s. They were perfectly fine. With the MHP and their huddling heat, they will be fine. Mine were out running around in the 50's-60s and just going under the heat for a bit when needed.

But our weather is going up to the 70s now. Most of ours have weaned themselves off the heat at 3-4 weeks. That's always been our experience, they just stop using it at about 3-4 weeks.
What aart says. Brooding with a heat lamp and brooding with a heating pad cave are entirely different methods. And with either method, your goal is to have a small foot print of space that is warm enough for the chicks to warm themselves up in. That foot print of space should be big enough for them to all comfortably be in that space without pig piling. The remainder of the brooder should be at ambient temperature. Any brooder that has a heat source running that is uniformly the same temp, or even within 10 degrees from warm to cool spots is a flawed brooder. It does not provide enough option for the chicks to self regulate, and to wean themselves from heat.

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