Help with temperature regulation in new brooder

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by dragon30276, Jan 1, 2015.

  1. dragon30276

    dragon30276 Chirping

    Dec 30, 2014
    Senoia, GA
    I just recently built a new brooder for some Ameraucana chicks I will be getting in the next couple of weeks. I will be receiving 16 to 20 depending on hatch rate. As I plan to incubate myself in the future and will be incubating quail as well I went large on the brooder. 3.5 d x 7.6w x 3h. My thoughts were that I did not want to have to move the chicks as the weeks progressed but instead to build something that would last the whole 8 weeks for about 30 chicks.[​IMG]

    The top is three removeable sections each with hardware wire. I added the plywood inserts to trap heat as the brooder is in the basement and night coldness during the winter could be an issue. As you can see from the above picture the light is hanging over a piece of 2x4 at roughly 3 inches in height. At this height of the light with a digital thermometer on top of the 2x4 I can get 95 degrees. Below is the height of the light.[​IMG]
    My concern is that this distance only creates heat at this location and seems very close to the chicks and bedding. I realize that I only need to maintain this temp for a week as I will be lifting the lamp incrementally. I am also concerned with maintaining this temp at night when it gets colder as I tested this during the day. Would I be better served running two lights at the same time? As you can see below I could add another lamp to the other side of the brooder. My concern there is the wattage of two 250 w bulbs. The brooder is on casters so I could plug each into a seperate receptacle on another circuit. I didnt want to go to the $20 expense if I didnt have too. Please give me your thoughts and suggestions.

    Thanks for your help.
  2. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Beautiful brooder! Magnificent, actually!

    I think you have it adequately covered with the one 250 watt lamp, and you don't need to achieve 95F on the floor of the entire brooder. It's best, in fact, to have just the one warm area, and allow the chicks to regulate their own heat requirements by moving in and out of the hot zone.

    You'll probably also discover that chicks really rarely want it as warm as 95F. I've found they are happier with it between 85 and 90 during the first couple days, and around 80-85F for the next couple weeks. You just need to raise the lamp up.

    The chicks will let you know. What it should look like in your brooder is 20 chicks running all over the entire brooder, with chicks moving in and out of the hot zone as they need to warm up and cool down. If they're all clinging to the outer edges, the hot zone is too hot. If they're all clinging to the hot zone, huddled together, then you need to lower the lamp. It's that simple. You really don't need the thermometer at all.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Rose66

    Rose66 Songster

    Jan 26, 2011
    azygous is right. Its probably been printed and said millions of times but really, really, really, the chicks will let you know and they are much more reliable than any thermometer. The first couple of hatches I brooded, I fussed and fussed over the temperature according to my thermometer but then I realized it was much easier to just watch the chicks rather than watch a thermometer. I think you'll find this out too.

    Also, it would be a good idea to be able to block off the two ends of your brooder so that at first you can keep the chicks closer to the heat source and then as they grow, you can open up one side and then the other. But be sure the chicks still have enough room to move away from the heat source in case they get too hot. If you do find that your chicks are too cold, even though you've closed off the ends of the brooder, you can always lay something such as pieces of boards or towels over the wire ceiling of the brooder to help keep more heat in.
    1 person likes this.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    That is one slick brooder...but no way that thirty 8 week old chicks will be fitting in there comfortably or hygienically.
    In GA, if you play your brooder heat levels right, they'll be fully feathered and you'll be able to move them outside at 4-5 weeks

    My notes on chick heat:
    They need to be pretty warm(~85F on the brooder floor right under the lamp) for the first day or two, especially if they have been shipped, until they get to eating, drinking and moving around well. But after that it's best to keep them as cool as possible for optimal feather growth and quicker integration to outside temps. A lot of chick illnesses are attributed to too warm of a brooder. I do think it's a good idea to use a thermometer on the floor of the brooder to check the temps, especially when new at brooding...... after a couple batches of chicks I still use one, but more out of curiosity than need.

    The best indicator of heat levels is to watch their behavior:
    If they are huddled/piled up right under the lamp and cheeping very loudly, they are too cold.
    If they are spread out on the absolute edges of the brooder as far from the lamp as possible, panting and/or cheeping very loudly, they are too hot.
    If they sleep around the edge of the lamp calmly just next to each other and spend time running all around the brooder they are juuuust right!

    The lamp is best at one end of the brooder with food/water at the other cooler end of the brooder, so they can get away from the heat or be under it as needed. Wattage of 'heat' bulb depends on size of brooder and ambient temperature of room brooder is in. Regular incandescent bulbs can be used, you might not need a 'heat bulb'. You can get red colored incandescent bulbs at a reptile supply source. A dimmer extension cord is an excellent way to adjust the output of the bulb to change the heat without changing the height of the lamp.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: