Heat Lamp Question

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by dobermanacres, Apr 24, 2017.

  1. dobermanacres

    dobermanacres Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 2, 2017
    Rural Alberta

    I'm picking up my first batch of chicks next weekend. I've got the brooder set up in my garage (Rubbermaid container) and I've been trying to get an accurate temperature reading in the brooder. My lamp comes with a warning to keep the bulb 36 inches from combustibles. I'm assuming that pine shavings are combustibles. Is it possible to lower the lamp, or should I really keep it 36 inches away from the bedding? I have a 250w red bulb, but the brooder temperature didn't seem to be much warmer than room temperature.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    I'm not sure it would be wise to go against the manufacturer's guidelines but I don't use a bulb in my brooder - hopefully those with experience can chime in.

    If you can stretch to getting a brooder plate (such as those made by Premier or Brinsea, for example) or buy (what is called in the UK) an "electric blanket" and make something akin to that discussed on this thread - https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/956958/mama-heating-pad-in-the-brooder-picture-heavy-update then you would be able to provide heat for your chicks in a manner that is safe, uses less power, and only warms one zone of the brooder (very important aspect of setting up a brooder). Sorry, I realise that I am not answering your question, but just suggesting alternatives that you may wish to consider.
  3. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    You only need to warm one end of the brooder. The rest of the brooder should be room temp. The best indicator of whether or not the brooder is the right temp, is by watching the chicks. Piling up in a tight cluster under the heat lamp means they need to be warmer. Chicks that are spread out, avoiding each other, panting, or holding their wings out are overheated and need the heat lamp moved up.
  4. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    250 watts is overkill for a plastic brooder tub. And, no, 36 inches from the bedding will only heat the air above the tub.

    If you were to lower the bulb to calibrate the temperature under it at floor level, you then risk turning the plastic tub into an "Easy Bake Oven". It's the spot right below a heat source that you need to be concerned being the proper temperature, not the entire brooder.

    I recommend you scavenge your house for a 100 watt incandescent bulb and take the 250 watt heat lamp back to the store for a refund. I bet the person who sold it to you didn't even ask you how big your brooder was or how many chicks you were going to provide heat for. Current business models have their profit concerns first, not the customer's needs.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    First, let’s talk about your garage. What kind of temperature range do you have out there? What are your highs and lows? If you are inside your house the temperatures are likely to be pretty constant, which makes getting the heat right in a small brooder fairly easy, but I brood outside in my coop. One morning I had a low of 18F. Two afternoons later it was the reverse, 81F. That’s a bit more challenging to handle. I’m sure your garage will not see that significant a temperature swing, but it’s likely to see some, especially if you also keep a vehicle in there and open and close the door.

    There are two risks in a brooder as far as heat goes, too cold or too warm. What you want is one area warm enough in the coldest of temperatures and an area cool enough in the warmest temperatures. Mine are really good either straight out of the incubator or from the post office at finding a temperature that is comfortable to them as long as they have that option. There are several different ways to provide that warm spot; heat lamps, heating pads, emitters, those heat plates ctken mentioned, and others. They all have their advantages, limitations, and cautions, but they all can work. The main ways to provide the cooler spot is size and ventilation. Heating pads and heat plates don’t need as much room to cool down as heat lamps, though if you are in a constant temperature location your can do better with them than if the you have a big temperature swing even with smaller brooders. With heat lamps you can adjust the heat by adjusting the height, switching to different wattage bulbs, or maybe adjusting them so only part of the heat is going in the brooder with the rest going on the outside. Some people use a dimmer switch to adjust the heat output. But in a small brooder you may not be able to let the far end cool off as much as it should.

    I use heat lamps in my 3’ x 6’ brooder built into the coop and brood in there with temperatures below freezing and in the heat of summer. It has good ventilation up high and good breeze protection down low where they are. My main caution with heat lamps is, if you decide to use it and not return it and switch to another method, is to throw away that clamp so you are not even tempted to use it and wire it into place. Don’t use string that can melt or burn, use wire. Support it in a way that neither you nor the chicks when they get bigger can knock it down. To me, that clamp causes more heat lamp fires than anything else.

    That warning to keep the heat lamp 36” from anything combustible reminds me of a warning I once saw on a step ladder, if you climb on this ladder, you might fall. They were not talking about the top step only, any step. Ridiculous, why else would you but a ladder if not to climb on it? Why would you buy a heat lamp if not to heat? If you are heating your bedding anywhere near combustible temperatures, you are going to cook your chicks. Make sure you don’t melt the sides of that brooder. But use your senses to determine with your choice of bulb wattage and distances are causing a risk from that heat. Touch things and see how hot they are getting.

    And yes, those shavings are combustible. Many people use shavings as bedding and heat lamps for the heat source without starting fires, even with the heat lamp much closer than 36”.

    I don’t know what the right answer for you is. How many chicks, how long will you keep them in the brooder before they go to the coop, your temperature swings, and other factors I just don’t know about? We are all unique in many ways. If your coop is ready, you have reliable electricity to it, and no adults there now you could brood in the coop, many of us do. If you need a larger brooder in a garage, getting an appliance box or maybe two and taping them together can work as a brooder. If you decide to go another route, come back and ask. With any of them there are tricks that can make it better, things to avoid, and certain limitations. You have some good people responding to your thread that use different methods. They can help you out. They just don’t ramble as much as I do.

    One last note. You can do this. Lots and lots of people are quite successful brooding chicks even when they do a lot of things wrong. If you do things right there should be less stress on you but those chicks are a lot tougher than you’d think. They can handle much wider temperature ranges than you often see mentioned on here. Keep your brooder dry (that’s important) and give them a chance to manage their temperatures and they normally do great.

    Good luck!
  6. yyz0yyz0

    yyz0yyz0 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2012
    if you are worried about melting the plastic of your rubbermaid brooder or if you need to increase the size as they grow, you might want to consider a brooder like mine.

    My first brooder was the "chick kit" I bought at TSC, it came with feeder, waterer and a roll of corrugated cardboard. You unrolled the cardboard and used it to form a playpen of sorts on the floor(mine was in the garage. I also put newspaper on the floor first). After I didnt' need it anymore i thought of keeping it for next year but realized I could do the same thing with cardboard boxes.

    So, now when ever I need a brooder in the garage, I get a bunch of cardboard boxes and open them up flat. I then use these flattened boxes to form my brooder pen, I just overlap the ends and staple them together. I take the flaps on one side and fold them in so they provide some flooring in the inside of the brooder corral. I throw some newspaper on top of the flaps and add wood chips on top of that and away I go.

    At the end of brooding season, the cardboard gets recycled and there's nothing to store till next time.

    P.S. I use the heating pad now but when I used the lamp I always seemed to get pasty butt issues. One thing that helped is a clump of dirt from the garden for them to pick/scratch through. The addition of the grit seemed to stop the pasty butt from happening. With the heating pad I've not had the pasty butt issues. I've read some feel it's caused by over heating due to the heat lamp but can't say for certain.
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    Plastic totes and heat lamps are a recipe for disaster.
  8. dobermanacres

    dobermanacres Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 2, 2017
    Rural Alberta
    I figured the best way was to watch the chicks and see how they react under the lamp. The temperatures have been all over the place here in Alberta lately (it started snowing on Friday and has been on and off since then...it was +27C around this time last year...so quite the difference). I just want to make sure the heat lamp end is definitely warm enough! :)
  9. dobermanacres

    dobermanacres Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 2, 2017
    Rural Alberta
    I should add I'm getting 4 chicks (2 RIRs and 2 Plymouth Rocks). To make things more confusing, the instructions on the bulb box says 18 inches is the safe height. I'm curious about the "Cave" method with the heating mats/pads and wonder if that would be a good option. I really don't want the chicks too warm while I'm at work...or catching the brooder on fire!
  10. dobermanacres

    dobermanacres Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 2, 2017
    Rural Alberta
    Do you use the heating pad method now? Are you keeping it flat, or building a cave-like structure? I see they have a "heated poultry mat" for sale at my agriculture store. I've also got a mat used to start seedlings in a plastic dome... I'm wondering if that is a possibility too.

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