MHP Questions

MerleCalico

In the Brooder
Nov 19, 2020
9
10
18
Hello, I have silkie chicks that are three and a half weeks old. They are indoors (70-74f) in a big Tupperware with no lid. I have them set up with a Mama Hen Pad; the Sunbeam King size heating pad over a cardboard frame. Every night I shove them all under it and race to turn out the lights, then wait a minute and check to make sure they're still under it. However, I've noticed that during the day lately they huddle together in a corner or on top of the MHP and I rarely see them under it. Granted,I can't observe them all day! I turned it down to medium heat when I noticed this behavior. Questions:

How long do they need the MHP?
When do I stop shoving them (gently) under it and just turn off the lights and trust them to seek warmth if they need it?
When do I turn it down to low?
When do I bring them outside to get them used to our colder weather? Are they like plants where you have to put them outside for an hour each day to trigger hardening off; in their car, winter-worthy feathers?


Thanks for any help! They seem so much more sturdy than two weeks ago but I don't want to cut off their heat too soon.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
17,855
35,776
1,062
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
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I don't have Silkies but for normally feathered breeds I reduce the heat 1 notch each 5-7 days (so by around 3-4 weeks they're completely off heat). Silkies are a little more delicate so I wouldn't rush to get them off heat like that, but yours are making it obvious they don't need so much heat anymore, so turning it to medium was a good idea. If they still don't want to use it during the day, lower it to low after a couple of days.

And yes it's best to harden them to colder temperatures. If it's not too cold/breezy outside, you can take them out for increasing spans of time, and/or you can start increasing time spent inside without heat. A combo of the two would probably be best.

Doesn't hurt to continue to herd them to the MHP before clicking off the lights - if this was a situation where they had naturally waning sunlight I wouldn't do that, but indoors, it's better to make sure they can find their way to heat before turning off lights. If they crawl out afterwards, that's fine.
 

Lexicon

Songster
Aug 18, 2020
187
1,778
200
Northern Canada
Hello, I have silkie chicks that are three and a half weeks old. They are indoors (70-74f) in a big Tupperware with no lid. I have them set up with a Mama Hen Pad; the Sunbeam King size heating pad over a cardboard frame. Every night I shove them all under it and race to turn out the lights, then wait a minute and check to make sure they're still under it. However, I've noticed that during the day lately they huddle together in a corner or on top of the MHP and I rarely see them under it. Granted,I can't observe them all day! I turned it down to medium heat when I noticed this behavior. Questions:

How long do they need the MHP?
When do I stop shoving them (gently) under it and just turn off the lights and trust them to seek warmth if they need it?
When do I turn it down to low?
When do I bring them outside to get them used to our colder weather? Are they like plants where you have to put them outside for an hour each day to trigger hardening off; in their car, winter-worthy feathers?


Thanks for any help! They seem so much more sturdy than two weeks ago but I don't want to cut off their heat too soon.
I don't have answers to all of your questions as I am only on my first flock, but I used the heating pad system with my chicks this summer.
I never put them in the heat cave after the first time I introduced them to it. I let them decide if they wanted to be under it or not.
They stopped using it at night when they were four weeks old and slept all cuddled up together until they were seven weeks old and then started roosting.
I am pretty sure that you can trust your birds to decide what they need as far as heat goes as long as they know it's available.
 

MerleCalico

In the Brooder
Nov 19, 2020
9
10
18
I don't have Silkies but for normally feathered breeds I reduce the heat 1 notch each 5-7 days (so by around 3-4 weeks they're completely off heat). Silkies are a little more delicate so I wouldn't rush to get them off heat like that, but yours are making it obvious they don't need so much heat anymore, so turning it to medium was a good idea. If they still don't want to use it during the day, lower it to low after a couple of days.

And yes it's best to harden them to colder temperatures. If it's not too cold/breezy outside, you can take them out for increasing spans of time, and/or you can start increasing time spent inside without heat. A combo of the two would probably be best.

Doesn't hurt to continue to herd them to the MHP before clicking off the lights - if this was a situation where they had naturally waning sunlight I wouldn't do that, but indoors, it's better to make sure they can find their way to heat before turning off lights. If they crawl out afterwards, that's fine.


Very very helpful, thank you for your insight!
 

ThatTeowonna

Songster
Oct 12, 2020
277
580
171
Columbia, SC
I don't have answers to all of your questions as I am only on my first flock, but I used the heating pad system with my chicks this summer.
I never put them in the heat cave after the first time I introduced them to it. I let them decide if they wanted to be under it or not.
They stopped using it at night when they were four weeks old and slept all cuddled up together until they were seven weeks old and then started roosting.
I am pretty sure that you can trust your birds to decide what they need as far as heat goes as long as they know it's available.
Did you decrease the heat level as time passed? Mine are three weeks d and the heat is at 3 (6 is highest).
 

Lexicon

Songster
Aug 18, 2020
187
1,778
200
Northern Canada
Did you decrease the heat level as time passed? Mine are three weeks d and the heat is at 3 (6 is highest).
Yes, I did. I decreased it by one notch every week, so about the same as you have done. I would lift up my cave and throw some fresh shavings in there when I felt it needed it and it always seemed pretty toasty under there.
 

junior67

Songster
Jan 29, 2021
914
1,152
203
MA
Did you decrease the heat level as time passed? Mine are three weeks d and the heat is at 3 (6 is highest).
do you start the heating pad on 6 for the first week then just lower 1 each week? I am doing a MHP and the heating pad I am looking at had 6 settings so I wasn't sure where to start it at first.
 

Lexicon

Songster
Aug 18, 2020
187
1,778
200
Northern Canada
do you start the heating pad on 6 for the first week then just lower 1 each week? I am doing a MHP and the heating pad I am looking at had 6 settings so I wasn't sure where to start it at first.
Yes, that's what I did, but I brooded my chicks out in the coop and outside temperatures were in the forties at night.[/QUOTE]
 

junior67

Songster
Jan 29, 2021
914
1,152
203
MA
Yes, that's what I did, but I brooded my chicks out in the coop and outside temperatures were in the forties at night.
[/QUOTE]
ah ok. Mine will be inside at first but may be in an unheated basement which depending on the temps the beginning of April may be cold. Guess I will start with 6 and watch the chicks to see how they are and adjust it from there.
 

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