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

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

  1. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    You don't want the room that the brooder is in to be that warm, just under the pad.

    I do use a heat light in the brooder during the first day or so...during the day only, just so I can see them come out and eat and move, etc.

    It is hard to measure the temp under the MHP, and those temps don't really coincide with the 'start at 95F and turn down 5 a week' anyway.

    You'll learn to understand by their behavior if they are comfortable....I still get out the thermometer once in a while just out of curiosity.



    Here's my notes on chick heat, hope something in there might help:
    They need to be pretty warm(~85-90F on the brooder floor right under the lamp and 10-20 degrees cooler at the other end of brooder) 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 acclimation 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, later I still use it 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.


    Or you could go with a heat plate, commercially made or DIY: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/pseudo-brooder-heater-plate
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. Fire Ant Farm

    Fire Ant Farm Get off my lawn Premium Member

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    For what it's worth, the only significant chick losses I ever had was my first time, where, using the heat lamp, the brooder was consistently too warm. I use a panel heater now (purchased before finding this thread, similar but more expensive option). Astonishing how little heat they need compared to the standard temps we are given. You really do need to just watch the chick behavior (even if you use a heat lamp rather than MHP) rather than obsess about the thermometer.

    - Ant Farm
     
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  3. Binkydl

    Binkydl Out Of The Brooder

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    Great. Thank you so much for the reply. I will watch the chicks and adjust the temp as necessary.
     
  4. chonsey

    chonsey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We're getting lake effect snow here in Michigan! My thanksgiving hatch chicks are very happy in the pen. One of the very first chicks that hatched weeks earlier has taken over as a mother hen. She stretches her wings and the chicks cuddle under them while I'm changing their water & putting feed in their dishes. I am so happy! The chicks have become so much more affectionate - they greet me and let me pick them up. Set the heating pad in a very large dog house in their pen so it will help hold the heat and give them a place to get away from the older chickens if they want.
     
  5. Paganrose

    Paganrose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Albany,, Wisconsin
    This is a fascinating idea! So much more like a broody mama! I will be starting over with day old chickies in just over a month. I think I will be using this method. How well does this work for a larger amount of chicks? I will be getting 25- so not sure if I will need 2 heating pads.

    I too have found That after the first 2 weeks I can't tolerate the noise and stink of chicks in the house- always ended up putting them out side in the brooder section of the coop at around three weeks- even in a Wisconsin March ( where it can't make up it's mind if it's snowy/cold winter or wet/muddy spring) They always feathered out out weeks earlier than my friend's house-separate brooder till 3 months old chicks. Plus never had any issues with integration.
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    I did stick a thermometer under the cave last year. The chicks were happy at 85*. They'll be fine and they will thrive. At first, I like to put their food and water just outside the cave, within 6". Then move it further away when you see that they are eating and drinking well, and know to go back to the cave for heat. I've had some slow learners. They "forget" and need to be shown where the heat is. Not at all unlike Mama who gathers in the chirping chicks, and tucks them under her wing! Once or twice, they all came out to eat, then congregated in the far corner away from the cave and made a pig pile. I had to break that up, and herd them back to the cave. That's why I like to keep them inside for a few days until I'm sure they are trained to the cave.

    I brooded 22 chicks last spring under an extra large pad. If you're brooding in cold weather, you might want to get 2 pads. They did ok with that size, but weaned from it very early, most likely because that number of chicks produce quite a lot of heat all by themselves. I'd get worried and try to shove them back under the pad, but... one night, I just stuck my hand into the pig pile and felt how warm it was. After that, I stopped worrying.

    One thing I like about the cave is how contented the chicks are. They sing themselves to sleep, with a little purring or trilling sound. I've never heard that with heat lamp chicks, or even with my broody hen chicks.
     
  7. Paganrose

    Paganrose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Albany,, Wisconsin
    I used to have a hen who went broody twice a year- I would hear her coo at the chicks and they would purr back at her. Sounds like content chickies to me!
     
  8. 71chickens

    71chickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 27, 2015
    Elk River, MN
    Hi all! I'm new to baby chicks and I will be getting an order or 30 come early Feb. I will be brooding 20 as 10 will be going to a friend. I really don't want to brood them in the house and would prefer the garage. I do have a sweeter heater that I bought, but I am debating whether the MHP method would be more beneficial to start. Do you all think it is even a good idea to brood in the garage? We have been having swinging temps here in MN 30 one day then -10's at night. Some days the high is only predicted for 0 or negatives. The garage averages about 25-30* on the really cold days. Do you think I should have them inside the house for a few days then move them, or just have them in the garage? I'm worried that if I start them inside then move them out to the garage that it might be too much of a temp change. What's the lowest temp that you feel you can use the MHP method? Sorry for all the questions, I just want to do this right.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Sweeter heater would be the way to go for that many chicks, depending on the size of it.
    The pads are just not big enough at times...some folks use 2 pads to enlarge heating area size.

    As long as your garage is draft free and dry, it should work out fine.
    You might want to use a heat lamp during the day for the first week or so over the food and water to observe their behavior until you're sure they are all hearty, eatingdrinkingpooping and active. A dimmer extension cord can be a big help in adjusting the heat lamp output.



    Here's my notes on chick heat, hope something in there might help:
    They need to be pretty warm(~85-90F on the brooder floor right under the lamp and 10-20 degrees cooler at the other end of brooder) 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 acclimation 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, later I still use it 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.


    Or you could go with a heat plate, commercially made or DIY: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/pseudo-brooder-heater-plate
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016
  10. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Have you had a chance to check out this article?

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yes-you-certainly-can-brood-chicks-outdoors

    I keep shipped chicks in the house for the first 24 hours or so, just so I can be sure they are eating and drinking and know how to get back under Mama Heating Pad. Then they go out to the run with the adult chickens. If we bring them home from the feed store, they go straight out to the brooder. I have a brooder pen out there and the Bigs get used to seeing the Littles and vice versa. Integration is easy as pie then. I"m in Northern Wyoming and our spring time temps fluctuate wildly -when I put my first batch of chicks out there they had been in the house for several days. (Hubby/brooder builder became very sick the day we brought them home and ended up spending several day in the hospital. So they didn't go out as planned while he recovered and could help me outside with the pen.) It was in the low 40s the day they went out and stayed there for a few days. Then the bottom dropped out and we were getting highs in the teens and twenties. Those little chicks never missed a beat - they did fine, as did the next batch we added a week later. The third batch went out the run and Mama Heating Pad when the others were 3&4 weeks old. By then those "older" were mingling with the flock and almost completely integrated.

    Your Sweeter Heater should also work fine. Lots of people use them and really like them. I just prefer the cave for me and my situation because I like that it's closed off on all the sides and the back with the pad. Keeps that warmth right down on them, and also gives them an enclosed, dark place if they get spooked and the top of the cave stays a uniform temperature so they can cuddle up there all they want. I've heard from a few people that the Eco Glow brooders can get too hot on the top for the chicks to stand on comfortably, yet others say their chicks spend time up there, so who knows? I had 15 chicks under MHP out in the run at one time. By the time they didn't fit so well under it, they were feathering in nicely and spending lots of time on top of or all around the sides of the cave. Your Sweeter Heater might well hold a few more chicks for a longer time than MHP, but frankly I would have no problem putting 20 under there. It depends on what you want to do.

    You know, if you decide to use this system, your membership fee into the Broody Brigade is photos, lots of photos!!
     

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