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

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

  1. SunshineAnShade

    SunshineAnShade Out Of The Brooder

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    I just wrote up detailed instructions on my brooder but I don't see it posted.... it was a little long. Is there a limit on length or does it take a while to post? I can try again but not tonight! It took longer to write instructions than it did to build it! Lol
    I decided to use a simple pillowcase for the heating pad and now based on what you said blooie, I wonder if I should cut off the top flaps to expose the top of the heating pad. I was thinking I could place a towel around the edges inside the box for softness... what do you think? Thanks for the great feedback!
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015
  2. SunshineAnShade

    SunshineAnShade Out Of The Brooder

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    [​IMG]
    This is what it looks like from the front. I have it running right now and the temp inside with door down is 86 right now. With it up its 80 but this is without shavings so far.
     
  3. SunshineAnShade

    SunshineAnShade Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 8, 2015
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    I will post pics once i modify my mhp
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015
  4. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I don't read all the posts on this thread but just caught this last one and was kind of puzzled about the reasoning behind the structure of this brooder. The heating pad is a contact heater, not a radiant heater, much like a hen would be. The chicks press up against the bottom of the hen for contact heat and she crouches down to make that contact for them.

    For the full benefit of the heating pad, the chicks need to make contact with the heating surface of that pad in some way...that's the whole purpose and benefit of using the heating pad in the first place. In this way, it's no comparison to the heat lamp that just provides a general radiant heat in a space. From the looks of this brooder, someone is trying to provide radiant heat to chicks with a heating pad by enclosing the space to prevent the heat from escaping and providing no direct contact with the heating pad...and that just defeats the whole purpose of using the heating pad in the first place.

    The thing is that the heating pad is a contact heater, much like the more expensive brooder heaters also being sold as contact heaters. You won't see those being advised for use in an enclosed space with all the sides blocked off with only one entrance or exit. To me, that's a recipe for disaster, as the chicks have no way of accessing the heat without being enclosed into a heated space with very little air exchange. Hens are not built this way....the chick can move easily from contact with a heated object to the open air so they can regulate their own needs but in this box they will not be able to do this easily...if fact, they might get crushed back in the corner by chicks who need more heat at the time.

    I'd not advocate this brooder structure at all. Good air flow, direct contact with the bottom of the heating pad, easy access on both ends of the brooder so they won't get crushed or prevented from escaping the heat in any way and the ability to raise the height of the structure to accommodate chick growth seems to be the most efficient use of the heating pad brooder.
     
  5. SunshineAnShade

    SunshineAnShade Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 8, 2015
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    I am new to all of this and am welcome to all advice and suggestions. I based my box on some pictures other people have posted on here as well as what materials i had available to me. Ive been doing as much research as possible and asking questions as well. I read that the heating pad should slope down in the back for chicks that need more heat and be taller in the front for a cooler area. Its kind of hard to see in the pics, which i was asked by a few to post. I followed other persons advice by making a wider opening and i even asked if I should put some vent holes on the other side. I can even take the top off the box as Blooie suggested. I also figured if it was too warm inside, i would lower the setting on the heat pad. I'm getting six chicks. when they get bigger i planned to raise the box flaps for added height. But now im uncertain what i should even be doing. I liked this idea because it seemed more natural and also less of a fire hazard but im getting conflicting answers from people. Some say it shouldn't touch the chicks backs, others say it should. I'm trying so hard to do the right thing but its hard when I don't know that is. And as much as i appreciate the feedback i feel like it would have been even more helpful and constructive if you Had read my other posts. I guess its back to the drawing board!:idunno
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    It depends on what you are wanting out of this method. If you are wanting it to be more natural for the chick, you need only look at a hen for the answer as to what to do. She's a source of heat, she squats down for the chicks to come in contact with the bottom of her body and her feathers. They are free to move out from under her at any time, in any direction, to regulate their exposure to the heat source.

    I'm sorry if my posts don't sound constructive to you, as they seem very instructive and constructive to me...I've explained in detail how the heating pad provides heat and also the reasons why enclosing it and using it for radiant heat is not the most efficient or natural use of it. Of course, anyone is free to do or use this method in any way they please and don't need to read or follow any of the advice in any of the posts, mine in particular, but I've used this method a good bit and can provide first hand experience with it so thought to chime in with some points to notice on the pics of the brooder....folks can take that or leave it as they see fit. [​IMG]

    Just seems like over complicating a very, very simple concept to add all the boxes and geegaws to it when it works just fine as a simple, basic structure that provides a heat source to the chicks much like a hen does...and hens don't carry boxes around to sit down on top of the chicks. A piece of bendable wire, a rack or frame of some kind that supports the heating pad in a suspended situation above the chick's backs seems to be sufficient to do the job.

    I'm sorry if the advice is not dressed up enough to appear constructive, but to me it's perfectly so.

     
  7. SunshineAnShade

    SunshineAnShade Out Of The Brooder

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    Came across this previous post while scanning the thread trying to figure out what i can do to improve my setup. Very helpful information Bee, thank you. I see what you mean about having it open on both ends but when i was first researching on this thread i hadn't gotten that far in. I was mostly going with pics from Blooie and a bunch others who all have the back and sides of the cave covered. One post showed wood for 3 sides and a solid cookie sheet as a roof. Another suggested using a cookie cooling rack, which i am. I was basing my set up from these examples. With the exception of the box roof top and a taller cave mouth sloping to the back, im not sure what is so different about my approach. Based on what im learning however i will be lowering the front of the cave so it is lower to the chicks backs. I thought the top of the box would help keep it cozy inside but i dont know if it might get to hot for them and i do like the idea of the chicks being able to lay ontop of the heat pad if they want as you and blooie suggested. so i will cut that off. I didnt know i was over complicating it, just putting something together i thought up in my mind using simple materials i had available (im not very handy with tools) im just doing my best with what i have to work with. I'll make changes and repost pics. Thank you for giving me direction and clarifying things
     
  8. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    @SunshineAnShade , you've already done one of the best things you can do here - listened to some good advice and decided to make adjustments to your plan. Shows a total willingness to do the best you can for your babies, even if it conflicts a bit with your original thoughts. One of the pioneers in this entire thing was Miss Beekissed - she's the reason I went ahead and gave it a shot when we had an injured chick last winter, and I haven't regretted dumping the heat lamp for Mama Heating Pad one bit.

    The concerns she addressed were pretty much the same ones I had - she just explained the whys and wherefores and broke it down better than I did. While Bee and I are totally on the same page about the system and believe in keeping it simple. simulating a broody hen as closely as possible, I think I tend to lean more toward the "it's your idea so give it a shot" school of thought. [​IMG] She has a ton more experience with all things chicken than I do. Last year was my first year with chickens and I got more than one well-earned wake-up call from our Bee.

    I just haven't been crazy about using solid structures (boxes, wood frames, etc) for this as I think you lose so much flexibility and it sort of defeats the purpose. Chicks just don't need as much intense heat as we've all been led to believe. It's much better to provide them with a corner where their bodies are warmed just when they need it, and the surrounding areas are cool. But when it comes to how to provide that, I've been wrong on this thread before, and azygous' foam set-up is a good example of that. I just couldn't visualize it, but I finally got it when I saw hers in action. It's for that reason that I try not to discourage experimentation. But I will always believe, and have said many times before, that the more we tinker the further we tend to get from the original concept - providing a soft, warm, substitute Mama Hen.

    So don't be confused or discouraged, my dear. Go back to page one, look at the setup I use, and try it. Mine has the heating pad draped over the outside. Bee's has it on the inside. But our finished "caves" are the same. My heating pad was just barely above their backs, Bee likes hers to touch their backs. The truth is the chicks really don't spend that much time inside it anyway. There are so many posts on this thread where folks worried that their chicks weren't inside the cave much and they worried. But that's natural. They are supposed to spend most of their time outside the cave, exploring, getting into trouble, and growing feathers in the cooler air. They'll spend more time on top of it and around it anyway, especially when the temps outside are warmer.

    You can do this!! And your chicks will simply thrive! But the key to keeping it stress free for you and for the chicks is to toss out the old school of thought, where the chicks were kept at baking temperatures until they start to lay (that was tongue-in-cheek, by the way). If they know they can scoot under Mama Heating pad when they get chilly or spooked, they'll do just fine. And for that a plain old wire frame of some kind, a heating pad, and a folded towel or pillowcase is unbeatable.

    Stay with us! We'll be right here!
     
  9. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    Having brooded a set of chicks three months ago under the MHP system, I'm now set to do it a second time in one week from today when I get three new ones (replacing the accidental roos from the first order.)

    My foam frame for the heating pad worked great, but I did learn some extremely important things from that bunch of chicks, especially the one that failed to thrive and that had to be supplied with her own MHP system.

    The most important thing I learned was that chicks crave and demand direct contact with the heating pad, and the more surface area you can provide for them to come into direct contact, the better, especially during that critical first week.

    Therefore, early on, I lowered the rack at the rear of the frame supporting the heating pad to form a "v" with the ground. In addition, I dropped the heating pad down in back after I raised the rack back up as the chicks grew so that they could continue to have direct contact with the pad. It was still in the 30s at night and no higher than 50F during the day, so being outdoors, they needed a toasty heat source.

    The sick chick especially taught me this important lesson. I had her in a cat carrier on my kitchen table so I could observe her frantic struggle to live. When I saw this poor little thing stretching herself up to her full height trying to make contact with the heating pad, I felt like the dumbest, darned @ss in the human kingdom. When I reconfigured the heating pad to form a tunnel, she visibly relaxed and began to sleep in a normal posture. She died, but at least she was warm, dagnab-bit!

    So, I'm rethinking my foam frame, and may even ditch it all together. There will only be three chicks this time, so I will probably go with a frame that provides maximum contact with the heating pad, and Bee's frame sure has the most efficient design for that.
     
  10. SunshineAnShade

    SunshineAnShade Out Of The Brooder

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    Blooie, i greatly appreciate advice from the seasoned mamas such as you and Bee and also new mamas ( and papas). aAzygous, I am so sorry for the chick you lost. i hope i don't have to go through the same experience. Thats why i want to thank you so much for posting insight on your design. Yours is the model that i was basing mine on since it was the one closest to the materials i had to work with. No foam frame, hence the cardboard idea. I had been wondering how it had worked out for you.
    I am modifying my mhp based on everyones experience and advice.
    Im going to cut off the top and try to feed the pillowcase with heatpad inside it through the dowels and then lay a towel on top and let it drap over the sides. I wish i had some scrap hardware cloth big enough to use.... i will see what I can figure out.
    Thank you all for the feedback! Im so worried about everything im having trouble sleeping at night. Not to mention its almost impossible to work on chicken projects while my soon to be 3yr old is awake and racing around !:weee lol!

    Would 2" high in the back and 3" for clearance in the front be ok? I can adjust the height pretty easily. If i can't find some bendable metal material i will have to use some of the cardboard for support for now.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015

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