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Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Blooie, Mar 4, 2015.
I have far less reservations about brooding with a heating pad than a heat lamp with regard to fire danger. Think about this - heating pad was designed to use against the human body. You can put a heating pad in your favorite chair and then lean back against it. Sure, it gets super warm, but it's not likely to catch fire even when your clothing and the fabrics in the furniture are in direct contact. You do have to be sensible using it because it can give you a burn if you fall asleep with it on, but that's with your body weight pressing it down. But just barely touch the bulb or housing on a heat lamp. Put a piece of fabric against a heat lamp. Uh-huh. That's the difference. When I put the wireless thermometer under there a day or so ago in answer to azygous' question, it was 82 degrees inside the cave. I had issues with my brooder lamp the first year I had chicks. It was so hard to maintain a constant temperature - too close and the readings were over 100, plus you are heating every single thing around the lamp....walls, all of the bedding, and even the dust and dander in the brooder.
So safety wise the heating pad is a sensible option. The chicks don't come into direct contact with the heat source above their cave when they are sleeping under it, but it's still comfortable enough for them to stand and lay on when they are on top of the cave. And just like with a heat lamp, you watch the behavior of the chicks. They'll let you know when it's time to turn it down a setting when they don't want to go under it. Remember, with a heat lamp it's recommended that you do the same. If they are too hot they'll stay as far from directly under the lamp as they can. And the rule of thumb is to move the heat lamp up, reducing the temp by 5 degrees, every week. No different with the heating pad, except you are simply making the cave higher or lowering the setting on the pad.
As for heating pad sizes, you don't have to use the big one for just a few chicks. I have two, a large one and a small one. The large one I got from Amazon, but the smaller one I bought at Walmart. The only key features you need to watch for are to make sure it has a button that allows you to turn off the Auto-Shut off feature and that it has number settings rather than low, medium and high. Right now my Littles are under the small one.
I'm as excited about employing this "chick cave" brooder heating method as I've been about anything in a long time. I've pre-ordered six chicks from a scheduled May 11 hatch and I need to buy a heating pad.
Right now I have a super cheap, lo-med-hi pad 12" x 14" I use it to warm my feet in bed every night. I think it would be too small for the chicks, even if I could spare it. So, Blooie, what size is the small pad you're using for your chicks?
My plan right now is to brood them in the house for the first two weeks and then move them and their Chick Cave out to their grow-out pen adjacent to the main run where they can have tons of space and freedom and start the merging process with the adult flock. Shortly before they've completed feathering out, I'll transition them and their "cave" to their coop which adjoins the grow-out pen and that will make it easy to wean them off the "cave". I anticipate the most seamless transition in the Azygous flock's history, and I can't wait to start sharing photos of this process.
I have a hunch this thread will rival most of the longest lived threads on BYC. This concept has the potential to revolutionize backyard chicken management, in my opinion .
A revolution? Wow, I am a REBEL!
I bought the small pad at Walmart. It's about 12" x 15", or right around there. The one for outside is 12"x24". I don't have a grow-out pen...wish I did. Using the wire dog crate with the door closed for the first week, so the Bigs and Little Scout could see each other, then later wiring the door open just wide enough so that he could get back in but they couldn't follow him did the trick for us.
what a great idea!
*milk. It seems my phone doesn't think that milk comes in crates and decided to auto(anti)correct it for me.
I agree, next time I have chicks i'm all over this! I do not like heat lamps, Even for my big girls. This winter in my coop I hung an extra large seedling mat behind my girls's roost just to take the edge off when temps dropped below zero, the seedling mat heats approx. 10-20 degrees above ambient. At first I didn't think they could even feel it as it barely felt warm to me, but I opened up the door on a very cold night and they were all facing the wall I then also employed a flat panel radiant heater mounted on a wall adjacent to them. So with both heat sources going At -24 degrees outside, it was a balmy 7 degrees inside the coop at night, without a heating lamp. I know people say you don't need heat, but -24 degrees is brutal! The flat panel heater is warm to the touch, but I don't think it could burn anything. I mounted it out of the girls reach anyways.
This heating pad Idea is great for those of us who are leery of heat lamps around the babies. How wonderful to be closer to nature with the babies settling down and getting a good night sleep as well. Thanks for sharing!
Big day at Oleo Acres. The Littles finally went outside. Ken's still pretty worn out from being sick, so we decided that for the time being the chicks were doing fine in the house and we'd take our time and work as he felt up to it.
He felt pretty good today, so out we went. And out they went.
I knew I'd need something over top of the heating pad to keep it clean, but didn't feel like going the towel route again. So I covered some of that bumpy shelf lining. The Press 'n Seal didn't stick as well to that as it did to the towel, but it'll work.
Inside the run. The box area standing behind the brooder is actually the brooder we used last year for the chicks. We stood it up on it's end and were using it to keep the can of chicken feed, but found a better use for it as a barrier for behind Mama Heating Pad. The pen is an old x-pen we had for our dogs for many years.
Made a nest of straw and put up the new frame. I wasn't happy because I was sure the wall might get too cold at the back despite the straw back there. I put the covered heating pad on and then covered it with a towel, with the excess folded into a wad behind it. (Yep, ended up using a towel anyway, and this one will get tossed when the chicks leave the "nest"). Then I packed the straw back between the towel and the wall.
Mama Heating Pad warmed up and waiting for the Littles.
First customer! She looks pretty happy.
And the first one to figure out that it's warm on top too.
Just like in the inside brooder, they were in and out.
A whole passel of Littles.
Gladys meets the Littles. She was fixated and barely moved!
The Bigs adjusting to the new outdoor brooder in their run. I am so pleased. I'll check on them after it gets dark and make sure they are all under Mama Heating Pad.
How many chicks fit comfortably under the heating pad brooder? TY!
I started out with 11 under the small heating pad in the house, but I added 4 more this weekend and they are using the large one out there. Except for at night when the temps drop, they are never all under there at one time anyway - they just pop under to warm up and sometimes take a nap, although they take most of their naps on top of Mama Heating Pad. They snuggle very close together at night, just as they would under a broody hen, and it's astounding how many she can sometimes cover!