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Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Blooie, Mar 4, 2015.
.....in my case usually when we most need it!
I would definitely agree with you about wanting to be touched. I got some as packing peanuts and am very happy that one looks to be a pullet. When I open the brooder she flies up to my arm and settles down using it as a roost.
So here is my updated brooder, the shelf is now covered with a heavy $3.99 rite aid throw rug. This has seemed to help that and the fact that I put the wire rack up on some 1 x 1 strips of wood. Our heat pad is on 1 at this point and I will probably turn it off by the end of this week. They seemed to be random as to if they end up sleeping in it or not and I cannot figure a rhym or reason as to when the do and when they don't. Oh and a cutie baby shot!
Ah, one of my favorite sights - chicks peeking out from under Mama Heating Pad! Just warms the cockles of my heart! The rug looks like a good idea. Isn't it nice to be able to have so much control over their environment? You can adjust the heat, the height, or both, and there's no heat lamp to contend with heating everything else within a mile!! And your baby is so sweet looking!
The brooder is all set up for the chicks! All that is needed now is the pine shavings and the baby chicks. The feed area will stay paper towels for maintenance reasons. I will post a picture of the frame to see if that is acceptable as well. SO EXCITED to use the mama heating pad system! I also love the side door on the crate, as it will allow me to interact with the chicks more. I am hoping to have a strong bond with these little peepers, as the last ones were not as socialized.
How many chicks are coming? You might consider placing your system directly in the coop or run after the first week. Your chicks will quickly become very active and will require a lot more space.
You can achieve more useable space by hanging your water and feeder. This tells you how. https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/957712/how-to-hang-a-chick-water-bottle
Looks great! I do agree with my good friend azygous...they will outgrow that crate in no time flat. Mine were in the crate for just a few days before they went outside into the big brooder. As I've said before, the biggest down side of this system is how much space Mama Heating Pad takes up. Of course, draw a mental picture of the same space with a fat, fluffy broody hen in it instead of the cave and the size result is about the same, except she moves! I used the dog crate out in the coop for Agatha to hatch and brood her chicks, and then later with a heating pad when Scout was a baby. What I did for him might help you if you move your entire setup out to the coop.
You can see the basket in this shot and how the crate was butted up against it. The hardware cloth around the sides of the crate serves the same purpose your cardboard does. We did have to find and identify an "escape hatch" Scout used the first time he got himself into trouble. That was closed with a scrap of hardware cloth rolled up like a tight burrito and stuffed in there.
When Scout went back out after his injury, we used the same crate. We again opened the front door of the crate and shoved it up against the wooden basket we were using as a nest box out there. We had to put a piece of wood on top of the basket to prevent over the top escapes. The heating pad cave is in the basket to give him the entire crate for exploring.Food and water was put out there, on a piece of 4x4 at first, then as he got bigger we hung them. After a few days of him being out there, we opened the side door to the crate and wired it open just enough so he could scurry back in but the Bigs couldn't follow him. It's easy to see how much having Mama Heating Pad on the exterior of the set up provides a lot more space for the chicks. By the way, for folks who think day time temps of 70 and nighttime temps of 50 are too low to put chicks outside, it was 4 below zero when Scout went back out to the coop, and he didn't even have any flockmates to cuddle up with! He did just great with just the heating pad and straw!
Depending on how many chicks you have, this should work very well for you! I love using the dog crate - first as my main brooder and now that my bigger outdoor brooder is set up, as a back up to that one. You are so right, that side door does make it nice to access the chicks, feeder and waterer, and for interaction. As soon as I opened that door, they were all right there!
Thanks, I love catching them hanging out underneath mama. At what age have you seen chicks no longer needing the heat from your experiences with the heating pad set up?
It has varied from group to group. Every once in a while I'd see a couple either peeking out or just coming out, even when the pad was down to 1 or turned off! But usually that was when I'd been clunking around in the run and done something that spooked them - I'd turn around and realize that while most of them were standing at the side of the pen watching me with interest, a couple of the shyer chicks had hightailed it for cover and were watching me from the safety of Mama. As far as using it just for heat, by 4 weeks old some of them weren't even using it at all - they slept cuddled together on their roost despite the 20 and 30 degree overnight temps. I evicted the first group from the brooder at about 4 and 5 weeks old, when I noticed what you've seen - just occasionally popping under but not seriously staying there. And besides, I had a new group of hatchlings being delivered, so I needed to get the brooder ready for them. The Tiny's went out for good at 5 weeks and now Agatha is using the brooder to set her eggs.
It varies so much from group to group and area of the country that I hesitate to stick a firm number on exactly how old they were when this happened or that happened. Your instincts have proven to be pretty good so far - keep using them! If you think they're ready, kick 'em out! They'll huddle in a pile in a corner somewhere if they get chilly, and at night, until they longer need the warmth or the security anymore. I have the Bigs, the Littles, and the Tinys all occupying the same space in the run and coop, and it's so much fun to watch! If you want a concrete answer, turn off the pad completely and watch them. Betcha they still gravitate as close to the pad as possible or underneath despite there being no heat except what they are producing. It's a habit and it's where they've always known to go. The pad is no longer warm, so that can't be it. They are just using each other for warmth, and they can do that outside the cave just as well.