Has anyone had success with brooder using heat plates and supplemental heat lamps in cold weather?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by DocumentedPure, Apr 5, 2017.

  1. DocumentedPure

    DocumentedPure Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 15, 2017
    I am in the process of designing a brooder for young chicks, and I would like to some advice. I would like to create it out of ply board, and basically build a big box, so that I can house as many as a hundred. I am thinking 4 by 4 as the ground floor, with one or two large heat plates. Whatever is sufficient for them. However I do not have enough space inside, so I want to build it outside. So here is my plan for that.

    I want to put it on the side of the house, or on the deck so that I can minimize the problems with electric cord length, and battery from the elements. I live in a temperate climate, so I have seasons. Spring, summer, winter, and fall. I have 20 inches of precipitation per year, so I am thinking that if I have a canopy over them, that it will create a shelter from precipitation. Now on to the next matter.

    Brinsea says that the heat plates should not be used in temperatures below 50 degrees F. I am guessing because this leads to chick death if they encounter rapid exposure to the elements. However, I am considering adding a heat lamp once the temperatures lower below 50 degrees if it is actually necessary. If not, I would prefer to just use the plates to reduce risk from fire, lower electrical costs, and not have to worry about a complicated two source heat system.

    But here are my ideas if it will be necessary. My box ply wood box will be a basic design with legs that lift it a few feet off the ground. Then, I will have the brooder plate and food and water sources and sandbox inside. I have seen other ideas where they put a heatlamp directly onto a wire roof, and that is what I was thinking of doing.

    Any thoughts?
  2. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 14, 2012
    Conway SC
    A 4x4 will not be big enough for 100+ chicks to live in very long. A 4x4 to gather in when they need heat then having another yard to go to will work good.

    Brinsea is probably saying not less than 50 degree's because like most small incubators----they can not heat to the needed temp for the chicks to stay warm enough. Chicks would die from being to cold under it---not from exposure. Chicks can get under a broody hen then run around in 30/40 degree temps(even colder) for a while---then go back to warm without a problem. Having a lot of out door brooders, I use the ground to my advantage----it keeps them warmer than a brooder up off the dirt which would allow cold air under it which would make the floor colder.

    I would suggest a good top covered ground pen, with wind breaks on the side and a Hover for them to get under to warm---Like a mother hen. Hovers can be built a lot of ways. I built this one cheap using a old 250 gal plastic barrel cut in 1/2 and 3 light bulbs no bigger than 100 watts each and only using ever how many of those 3 bulbs I needed to get the temp inside like they needed----meaning each light could be plugged in separate---use 1, 2 or all 3--according to how cold it is or is going to be that night. Now I just use a thermostat(easy to make with this set-up). I have used this when the temps would drop into the high 20's at night with no problem. BUT I always have a thermometer in it(before thermostat) and On those 20's/30's nights I layed a thick old comforter/quilt over the top to help hold the heat in. It had 115 in/around this when I took this pic. I call it my "mother hen"---it works like a mother hen with the skirt and all. It does have a wire floor---raised about 2" off the dirt using a 2x4" frame around the edge for the wire to lay on. I put news paper below the wire floor to make cleaning easy. Something like this does need to be vented a little at the top for fresh air exchange.


    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  3. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 18, 2016

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