Mama Heating Pad in the Brooder (Picture Heavy) - UPDATE

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Blooie, Mar 4, 2015.

  1. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

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    Thanks, Bruce, I appreciate your math wizardry, but MPC already compensated me for the two dead chicks the week they died. They were very prompt in crediting the cost plus shipping back to my credit card account. They did admit it was unacceptable that my original order was cursed with so much grief. It kind of mirrored other periods of my life where there was so much bad stuff happening that I just had to laugh at it all.
     
  2. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    I'm so glad that they worked with you to resolve the horrible ratio you ended up with. I've dealt with them twice now, and found their customer service to be pretty cotton pickin' good!

    Do you know what this means? More chick pics! Whoopeeee!!!! Can't wait!
     
  3. SunshineAnShade

    SunshineAnShade In the Brooder

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    Hi Blooie, I need some help/advice! I will be getting 6 chicks from MPC the week of Aug 10th. I purchased the sunbeam xl heating pad but took my chances and got it used from a seller on ebay who has great feedback and said it worked great. However, I plugged it in and set it to 6. It felt warm to the touch but not hot. It still only felt warm after 30 min. Do I have a defective unit? maybe I need to return it and get new? IDK. I have an instant read thermometer and it registered at 103ish but that was direct contact.

    I also was planning to make a cave using dowels and an upside down cardboard box with a small door cut out. I got the idea from pics another member posted (except she used foam material) I was going to cover the box with a thick blanket and hope it would provide enough insulation. Do you think this would work or should I stick with hardware cloth and a cover?

    Also should the heating pad be low enough to touch the backs of the chick? The dowels will provide a slope so it will be lower in the back than the front of cave.

    How big of a box should I use for 6 chicks?

    And how long do they need to be in the brooder ? I will have them set up in the coop right away instead of inside my house.

    Sorry for so many questions! This is my first time with chicks/chickens and I'm as nervous as a new Mama hen! Thank you in advance for any insight! Hope to hear from you soon.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  4. I purchased my Sunbeam pad new off Amazon, and at setting 6 it only felt warm to the touch...however when I completed my Momma Cave and put a thermometer in there, it read 95 deg...I run mine at setting 4 and the chicks seem happy...they are 1 week old now.
     
  5. SunshineAnShade

    SunshineAnShade In the Brooder

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    Ok, Thank you! I just tried it again and this time it got much warmer more quickly. Im not sure what the issue was the first time. I went right to 6 but the second time i started at 1 then increased it and got warmer each time. my thermometer registered it at 143 touching! I just hope it continues working properly for my chicks. with the MHP do I need to warm things up ahead of time before they arrive as with the traditional heat lamp method?
     
  6. I had mine running a couple of days before the chicks arrived, and put a thermometer in the cave so I could check the temps.
     
  7. bruceha2000

    bruceha2000 Free Ranging Premium Member

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    I'm not Blooie (obviously!) but:
    - I'd go with a WIDE door rather than a small one. You want air to be able to get in there. You can leave a flap of fabric over the opening at first if it makes them more comfortable. But since they have never seen anything but an incubator, a sorting box and a cardboard shipping box, you might have to put them inside once.
    - The pad does not need to touch the chicks (probably shouldn't) and you likely will need to raise the whole thing up after a bit unless it is a fairly tall box and you can get LOTS of initial height in the front, chicks grow fast.
    - Size of box - I would choose one that is about the same dimensions as the pad since the box will keep the pad from overhanging on the sides.
    - They should have access to the MHPB until they are fully feathered - about 3-4 weeks. But some of my 7 "just turned 7 weeks old today" chicks STILL shove under Zorra even though they are the size of robins now.

    Post pictures when you have it made. Pictures help others decide how they want to build theirs.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. SunshineAnShade

    SunshineAnShade In the Brooder

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    Wide it is! Thank you! But now I'm wondering if I should add ventilation holes on the other sides.... hmmm. I will post pics when it's done!
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  9. SunshineAnShade

    SunshineAnShade In the Brooder

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    Thank you!
     
  10. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Just got back from a pretty exhausting set of medical tests up in Billings, so I'm catching up here.

    @SunshineAnShade Welcome to the wacky world of Mama Heating Pad brooding. I think your heating pad is probably just fine. I'm just not sure about using a cardboard box for the cave, but there's absolutely no reason not to try it. This thread has thrived because folks have taken the initial idea and modified it, then shared what they learned.

    I have a couple of concerns. That totally enclosed cardboard space with a cut out door is going to get hot inside - probably hotter than a wire frame with a towel over the pad. There is some air exchange with the fabric of the towel - the solid construction of a box blocks that. Using a thick blanket for insulation will only hold even more heat in. And if the blanket holds the heat in, but is thick enough to insulate the top of the box from the heat, will the blanket serve well as a cozy spot for them to sit on when they don't need a lot of heat but want just a little on their tummies and feet? Mine spent most of their time laying on top of the towel, surveying their surroundings and soaking in the warmth. Too thick a surface up there and you will lose some of that. As I've said before, I'm a minimalist when it comes to this system......frame, heating pad, towel or (if they are being brooded outside) straw. Mine also loved that little awning of towel hanging down in the front and the fact that the heating pad was longer than the frame so it extended down the sides of the cave. The towel I used was a worn out bathtowel that was only folded in half, so there wasn't layer after layer of fabric. Using a hard sided cardboard box, they lose that "softness" that accompanies the warmth, and the idea here is to simulate Mama Broody Hen.

    You have the basics down - higher in front than back, closed on the sides rather than open all the way around like the commercial ones. And the advice to set it up and test it before the chicks get here is a good one. We'll all be very interested in how you proceed with the box idea. Just remember that you want the pad as close to the chicks' backs as possible for the first week or so. Then watch their behavior. They'll let you know if they are too warm or too cold.

    Pictures...don't forget pictures!!!!
     

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