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

Ainee

In the Brooder
Apr 19, 2015
75
30
37
Atlanta, GA
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 .

Hi azygous, I have pre-ordered 6 chicks from a Sept. 6th hatch. I live near Atlanta Ga. I want to use the MHP method, and already bought the Sunbeam 12' x 24' (large). I'm wondering how long that size was big enough for your 6 chicks, and at what age you stopped using it? If they outgrew it did you transition to another heat source while they were still growing? I will probably have to start my chicks inside or on an enclosed porch, unless I come up with a great way to weatherproof my run more. (I'm toying with the idea of wrapping it in Visqueen) Anyway, I have options but mainly wondered how it worked out, size-wise, with 6 chicks, and what to do when/if they get too big for it before they can be out in the coop and run without additional heat. I currently have no chickens - this is my first batch! Thanks for any input! :) This site is AWESOME!!
 

Jensownzoo

Songster
Feb 7, 2016
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Saint Louis, MO
Hi azygous, I have pre-ordered 6 chicks from a Sept. 6th hatch. I live near Atlanta Ga. I want to use the MHP method, and already bought the Sunbeam 12' x 24' (large). I'm wondering how long that size was big enough for your 6 chicks, and at what age you stopped using it? If they outgrew it did you transition to another heat source while they were still growing? I will probably have to start my chicks inside or on an enclosed porch, unless I come up with a great way to weatherproof my run more. (I'm toying with the idea of wrapping it in Visqueen) Anyway, I have options but mainly wondered how it worked out, size-wise, with 6 chicks, and what to do when/if they get too big for it before they can be out in the coop and run without additional heat. I currently have no chickens - this is my first batch! Thanks for any input! :) This site is AWESOME!!


That size should be perfectly sufficient for taking six chicks to the point of sufficient feathering not to need it anymore.
 

Ainee

In the Brooder
Apr 19, 2015
75
30
37
Atlanta, GA
D.gif
jumpy.gif
Can we still talk about raising baby chickens using the MHP method here, or is this a gardening thread now?
tongue.png


I'm getting four more chicks in a day or so*, So I have been setting up a new brooder bin and I built another Mama Heating Pad, as I had cannibalized the last one to use the materials for other purposes.


Same Sunbeam pad as before, and I used hardware cloth,
again, like before.

But this time I wrapped the edges of the HC snugly around
the edges of the heating pad, clamping the two together.
The soft, towel like side is facing up in this picture.



This creates what is effectively a one piece, bendable heating pad.


So now the pad is sitting under the hardware cloth, instead of
lying on top of it as it did before, This will let the chicks snuggle
right up against the soft, warm pad. I can still cover the top with
plastic to keep the pad clean.

I do have a question though, it has been getting quite warm these past few weeks, with the daytime highs never getting below 90F. However at night it has been getting down into the 70s. As 90 degrees is pretty much the proper temperature setting of the MHP anyway, should I be turning it off during the day, and only have it heating at night? or should I just leave it on all the time as before?








*Chicken Math; one of my EE pullets decided it would rather grow up to be a rooster, the black chick turned out (according to the others here at BYC) to be an Australorp, one was abducted and I assume killed and eaten. Another fell victim to the heat, or so the theory goes. So I bought four more chicks from http://chickensforbackyards.com: 3 Easter Eggers, and 1 Cuckoo Marans, I wanted to get a CM along with the EEs originally, but the feed store had sold out of them, in just two hours after they had been delivered!

Love this idea! I just made one myself. Thanks!
 

Beekissed

Free Ranging
13 Years
Feb 14, 2008
22,974
5,161
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This world is not my home.
Thanks for this thread!
I'm experimenting along the same lines, but my investigation is focusing on how to brood chicks outside with no electricity at all. I have pretty good success so far with a wool hen. But I'm wondering now how to ditch even the first day's electric warmth. I'm considering designing something with the MHP style little cave, but with the wool hen's woollen strips hanging from the top, some styrofoam for structure and insulation, and a place at the top or the side for a rice bag that can be heated up in the microwave on in an oven.

I'm thinking the rice bag would need to be changed out a couple of times a day? Anyhow.... That will be my next experiment.

You oughta link that thread in your post so folks here can take a gander at your experiment...I think it's highly worthy and I wouldn't mind trying that if I had to myself, even though I have electricity in the coop and the HP brooder. It's just a fun experiment.

I had a few day's old chick camp out in a wood pile all night in 50* weather this spring all by his lonesome and he wasn't even chilled the next morning. I heard him peeping and couldn't believe it when I found him...he was quite perky and warm in the body. I think your experiment could work, just needs brave folks like yourself to see it through.

I think your rice bag could be reheated each morning and each evening to get them through each 12 hr period if your cave was well insulated and in a brooder that kept direct breezes out. I brood in a haybale brooder, which is perfect for such things.
 

azygous

Enabler
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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Hi azygous, I have pre-ordered 6 chicks from a Sept. 6th hatch. I live near Atlanta Ga. I want to use the MHP method, and already bought the Sunbeam 12' x 24' (large). I'm wondering how long that size was big enough for your 6 chicks, and at what age you stopped using it? If they outgrew it did you transition to another heat source while they were still growing? I will probably have to start my chicks inside or on an enclosed porch, unless I come up with a great way to weatherproof my run more. (I'm toying with the idea of wrapping it in Visqueen) Anyway, I have options but mainly wondered how it worked out, size-wise, with 6 chicks, and what to do when/if they get too big for it before they can be out in the coop and run without additional heat. I currently have no chickens - this is my first batch! Thanks for any input! :) This site is AWESOME!!

Sorry I didn't notice your post until just now. Seeing my original post predicting the awesome success of this thread and its topic proves me right. This thread is rarely off the first page of this forum. Blooie should be very proud she's helped so many people brood chicks better and easier.

I've used this method for three batches of chicks now, and it's a superior way of brooding, both simple and efficient. I'm also happy to see people coming up with modifications and innovations, making the concept work for their own individual needs.

People have been stuffing lots of chicks under their pads, and even setting up two or three pads to accommodate large numbers of chicks. I really don't think there's any limit to what you can do with them. Putting six chicks under one pad, a piece-a-cake!
 

MargaretYakoda

Songster
7 Years
Jan 28, 2013
609
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Irondale, Wa
You oughta link that thread in your post so folks here can take a gander at your experiment...I think it's highly worthy and I wouldn't mind trying that if I had to myself, even though I have electricity in the coop and the HP brooder. It's just a fun experiment.

I had a few day's old chick camp out in a wood pile all night in 50* weather this spring all by his lonesome and he wasn't even chilled the next morning. I heard him peeping and couldn't believe it when I found him...he was quite perky and warm in the body. I think your experiment could work, just needs brave folks like yourself to see it through.

I think your rice bag could be reheated each morning and each evening to get them through each 12 hr period if your cave was well insulated and in a brooder that kept direct breezes out. I brood in a haybale brooder, which is perfect for such things.
Thank you. I did edit the post to put the link in. And I'll put it here also.
https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...lamp-and-possibly-no-supplemental-heat-at-all

The more I watch those babies outside perfectly happy, the more I think we backyard chicken folks have been sold a bill of goods with the whole "needs a heat lamp" and "95 degrees for the first week" thing. Because no. And not true. ;)
 

Ainee

In the Brooder
Apr 19, 2015
75
30
37
Atlanta, GA
Sorry I didn't notice your post until just now. Seeing my original post predicting the awesome success of this thread and its topic proves me right. This thread is rarely off the first page of this forum. Blooie should be very proud she's helped so many people brood chicks better and easier.

I've used this method for three batches of chicks now, and it's a superior way of brooding, both simple and efficient. I'm also happy to see people coming up with modifications and innovations, making the concept work for their own individual needs.

People have been stuffing lots of chicks under their pads, and even setting up two or three pads to accommodate large numbers of chicks. I really don't think there's any limit to what you can do with them. Putting six chicks under one pad, a piece-a-cake!
Thank you! You're right about Blooie and that she should be very proud. She's helped so many with this! When I ordered my Sunbeam heating pad through Amazon, I noticed that it was the number one best seller and wondered if it's due to this thread! Wouldn't surprise me.
About how old were your chicks when they stopped using the pad or needing the supplemental heat? I'd just like to know what to expect. Thanks
 

azygous

Enabler
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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When chicks stop using their heating pad cave depends a lot on the ambient temps. Sometimes in warmer climes, people have seen their chicks discard the cave and just sleep on top of it at around three weeks. This was the case with my last batch last summer.

I'd say, on average, chicks are pretty much finished with the cave around four weeks, but if the nights are cool, may still use it at night for a spell.
 

azygous

Enabler
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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"The more I watch those babies outside perfectly happy, the more I think we backyard chicken folks have been sold a bill of goods with the whole "needs a heat lamp" and "95 degrees for the first week" thing. Because no. And not true. "


This is one of the things I can really get heated up about, pardon the pun. And most people readily and eagerly accept the heat guide as scripture. Just watch day-olds romping around an outdoor pen on a 60F day, not spending much time near the heat source. People have a need to follow specific directions because they doubt their own powers of observation and ability to make judgement calls when this would be the better approach to judging the heat requirements of their chicks in their own individual situation.
 

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