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

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

  1. trudyg

    trudyg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, Blooie. I called home around 11:30 and DH said he could see them running around out there. I know that my two pouffe heads are cold-natured, they are always where the heat is. The others I'm not so concerned with, 2 have been on the roost when I've looked during the night. Kudos to you for this fine idea, the mhp.
     
  2. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Thanks, but I can't take credit for it. Several others including Patrice Lopatin, Beekissed, aart, and another lady here who actually sends chicks to their new homes with heating pads. Forgive me but for the life of me her name escapes me now. <sigh> Old age. All I did was adopt it to my needs, then post a few pictures up here. And you guys get a huge hunk of the credit too, because you are the ones who said, "I think this is better." and then did it.
     
  3. MamaDoolittle

    MamaDoolittle Out Of The Brooder

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    So amazed at how much more independent and outgoing my MHP raised chicks are versus the heat lamp ones. Last night I forgot to turn the light on for the girls (2 11 wk olds and 2 4 wk olds) to go into the coop from the run. I am sick and it just slipped my mind until it was so dark. I was so worried that I would find babies peeping in the dark run. Nope! My 2 littles were tucked in there MHP cave with their little heads looking at me with the flashlight. The big girls started churping as they were on top of the MHP and not on their roost. They seemed so lost. I put them up on their roost and they settled down. But my littles were all snug in their cave. They are so much more adventurous in exploring during free range time too. So glad I found this thread.
     
  4. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    And we are glad you did too, MamaDoolittle! I found the same thing with my chicks. Strong, curious, independent, and feisty, just the way I like 'em!

    I've had many private messages from people who are embarrassed, or even angry, because they didn't get it to work well for them. So here, without naming names so they don't feel funny, is the main thing I think causes the issues - and I firmly believe that all of the issues can be traced back to this one thing - "the chicks don't behave the way all of my other ones have."

    Chicks raised under MHP simply do not act like chicks raised under heat lamps. Ever. In any way. They don't waste energy running all over the brooder constantly. They are content to mosey here and there, exploring, eating, drinking and interacting with each other. They are so calm they seem almost like there's something wrong. They rest often - sometimes under the pad but most often on top of or near it. While we worry that they aren't warm enough, they are most often just fine. We are just used to sticking our hands in a heated brooder, worrying about thermometers and feeling the all over warmth, while they naturally just want to warm up for a few minutes or so then go back out. But we get anxious when they aren't always in the cave when we check on them and we just keep shoving them back under. They don't need us to do that. Maybe one or two need a little guidance to find the heat, but that's true with a broody hen too - we've all seen or heard of chicks that get separated from mom. For the most part once they know where the cave is, they'll use it when they need it. They usually find Mom when they really need her and take care of what they need. They cuddle with each other more.

    They don't eat 24/7. They eat when they wake up, and throughout most of the day, but at night they sleep, in the dark, somewhere around each other and/or the cave. They get what they need, but not running around all day and night long they don't need as much because they aren't constantly expending energy. Their little bodies get a rest time, just as they would with Mom. She certainly goes to sleep at night and isn't up feeding them in the dark.

    In a lamp heated brooder you'll often see a few here, a few there, but usually with some separation between them. We've heated their entire environment instead of letting them depend on scurrying under Mom and snuggling with the other chicks. With a broody they'd cuddle, either under her, around her or way over yonder. With the ability to regulate themselves for warmth, they don't need us as much, so we do lose that one-on-one that a lot of people seem to want with their chickens. They are independent. So they don't run to the brooder edges and cheep frantically when they see us coming. It's more like a "Oh, here's that big person again. Wonder what she wants this time." and then they continue to go about their business. So if you want your chicks to grow up being birds that run to you with joy every time they see you, you have to make an extra concerted effort to make that happen. @azygous is particularly good at that.

    So I think the biggest reason people try this and just can't make it happen is that they are not seeing these chicks as broody raised chicks. They are used to the usual behaviors and when it doesn't happen with MHP, they get worried and either go back to lamps or just plain hate the whole system.

    I'll be the first to say that this is not for everyone. In fact, I've made that clear from the beginning of the thread. I've said that if you don't think this is right for your situation, then by all means, do what you are comfortable with. There's absolutely no shame or failure in that at all. It takes a huge leap of faith to chuck everything you've learned about raising chicks and change it so dramatically. So for those of you who have taken the plunge and love this method, sharing with everyone else your photos, your experiences and difficulties, I humbly thank you for trying this. For those who tried it and either didn't like it or just couldn't make it work, I applaud you for your efforts and I understand completely. And for those of you just thinking about it with Fall Chick Days happening in so many areas, you could well be in for the chick raising experience of a lifetime! Congratulations.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2015
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  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  6. trudyg

    trudyg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good Post. I got home late last night and went out to look at the babies--60 at that time. There they were, like a pillow, in the run. Warm and toasty, the cold natured ones in the middle. No peeping, no running around. Sound asleep. Didn't wake when I shined the flashlight at them. Must not have needed the mhp, so I left them alone. This morning they are fine, eating/pooping/drinking and content.
     
  7. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    I think we got so used to "telling" our chicks how to thrive that we don't handle it well when they tell us what they need instead! [​IMG]
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

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    The MHP system can be utilized in any type brooder setup, whether indoors in a spacious box or outside in a coop or run. That's the beauty of it. It's versatile.

    But I'd like to make the case for brooding your chicks outside or in an indoor brooder with as much natural space as possible, and I plan on a special thread about it in future. When or if I ever get the time.

    Back in college, at age 40, by the way, I studied different cultures and the effect of their environment on them. One culture was in Africa in a deep forest. When the researcher took an individual on a trip out to the grassy savannah, the subject commented on some people far off in the distance as being "little people", because indeed they appeared just a few inches tall to him. He had never viewed humans at a distance before, living in a confining environment. Therefore he couldn't relate to them as being the same size as he was, just in a diminished form due to distance.

    The same is true of baby chicks raised in a small, confining brooder. Imagine spending the first part of your life in a small box, just seeing people as having heads and only hands. Then suddenly being moved into a coop with a run, and how different and terrifying the world must seem. The people are now towering monsters that loom and move and do all sorts of scary stuff and there are big, strange chickens that are pretty scary, too. And people wonder why their chicks are so skittish and fearful.

    I first got the inkling of this when, out of sheer frustration with the mess of brooding in the house, I set up a brooder in a plant grow window in my garage. The chicks loved it! They had long views of the world, saw people and animals going by up close as well as in the distance, and they had perspective from the very start. They were never skittish at all because they viewed the world as it really is.

    That's why I jumped at the chance to brood outdoors in the run when Blooie introduced the MHP system to BYC. From the very start, it has given my chicks an accurate view of the world in which they will be living. They take everything in stride. They are calm and self confident. They learn quickly every stage of development from their first mingling with the adults at age three weeks to moving into the coop and roosting at five weeks because they've been living with the big chickens from day one, and the big chickens already know and accept them so they aren't picked on very much at all.

    This is the underlying reason why I believe brooding chicks either in a coop or in the run is the very best practice if you want chicks that are calm and happy and well adjusted from the very beginning. If you want the added benefit of chicks that adore being handled, it's easy to spend time with them bonding, and it's just a lot of fun, besides.
     
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  9. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    [​IMG] Well said! I am so glad that you are part of the Broody Brigade. You've added so much to the conversation and have become one of MHP's best advocates.
     
  10. bruceha2000

    bruceha2000 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    I agree azygous. I'm sure my now 3 year old hens were scared out of their feathers when we dumped them in the 10'x12 "stall converted to a coop" in the barn at 3+ weeks of age. They were used to a white bathtub in an overheated bathroom in the house with 24x7 red light plus daylight from the small window and electric lights when we turned them on. Shoved in a cardboard box and when let out BOOM! Nothing looks the same, nothing sounds the same, nothing smells the same, nothing feels the same. They sat in a heap not sure WHAT to do.

    MHP in the coop isn't the same as broody raised since there isn't a momma to protect them against all comers and slowly expand their world when the time seems right. But they see their future environment every day because they are already in it even if separated from older birds by wire walls and cover. And they get to explore the "outside the brooder" world when the older chickens are out for the day. And they get to integrate with them one day at a time so no "who the heck are these birds and why have they invaded our space" drama. My broody kicked the 7 chicks to the curb when they were about 2 months old (IIRC) though the surrogate "aunt" stuck with them. They were happy enough to have her around though not one of them EVER considered her to be their "I sleep under/on this bird" mother. They didn't even sleep next to her no matter how much she called to them. They still hang together a lot of the time as their own flock but now at 15 weeks old, I see them with other birds as well, not only as a flock but individually.

    And if one's MHP brooded birds are the only chickens in residence, they will do as my original 12 did, figure it out. But without the massive change of residence/environment. They have the instincts to figure everything out .... everything but the FACT that sitting in a nest for weeks on non fertile, plastic or no eggs at all will result in ZERO chicks hatching. Of course I guess Zorra wouldn't buy that since she sat on nothing for a week then a couple of plastic eggs for a week or so and voila, 7 chicks showed up in the nest under her. [​IMG]
     

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