My New Brooder: Where to put lamps?

Lil Chickie Mama

10 Years
Apr 1, 2009
I am just about done building my new chick brooder. They have to be outside this time but I also have 3X as many chicks as the first time. Sigh. Chickens are so addicting! The hutch I built is 8' long X 2' deep X 2' tall (inside chick room, but total height is about 4' 3"). the two 2' X 2' sides are plywood and the rest of it is hardware cloth. The front and back (long sides) have plywood up about a foot for now to hold in heat and bedding but it will be removed later when they don't need the added heat and need more ventilation. The whole lid opens, latches, and is hinged at the back. I am going to lay newspaper along the bottom and then put straw and rice hulls over that. For the first week there will be some old towels over all of that too. I will have a large waterer at one end and a large feeder along the back. Where should the heat lamps go? I have two 250 watt lamps that I plan to put over the top but should I put them even over the whole thing: center one on each 4' section, or is this not enough to keep the temp high enough? I can put two on one side but then the side where the water is won't be very warm. I can't move it later because I'll have to cut into the wire on the lid for wherever it's placed because the bulb extends past the lamp. I would think that just one centered over each half is fine, but I thought I should ask the experts. Here are some pics of the new hutch. Oh, and it took me half of yesterday and half of today to do with minimal help from the hubbie.

This is the new hutch brooder (the lamps are just set on top, not permanent yet):

This is the lid open, you can see the latch:

This is my little dog Bella inside to give a size reference, Mama's helper


And just because she's so cute. She must be thinking, "I'm not a chicken, get me outta here MOM!"
Aww! Thank you so much! I asked my hubbie a few questions and had him "help hold this thing" or "show me just how to do that" but mostly I used his tools which fortunately he has a bunch of. My current favorite tool that I wish I had known about sooner is the air powered stapler. I love that thing! It's pretty easy to do with the right tools and someone to ask questions to. Good luck building yours, I'm sure it will turn out great!
Nice job! I wish I could build a brooder out of something other than a cardboard box!

In response to your question: in my limited experience (4 batches of baby chicks) and from what I've read in countless places, it's best to put the heat lamp on one side of the brooder (unless the brooder is round and then you center the heat lamp). The reason is that you want the baby chicks to be able to get away from the heat if they are too warm and to settle under it if they want to. However, if you find them huddled in a pile right under the heat lamp, it's not warm enough in there for them. I ALWAYS keep a thermometer in the brooder to check temperatures b/c you want to be able to raise the lamps to adjust the temperatures downward 5 degrees each week. If you're making these lamps permanent fixtures so that you CAN'T raise them to regulate the temps, a dimmer switch might solve that problem.

Oh, and chicks don't like warm water (allegedly, although they've never said that to me!) so it's good to keep the water & food at the opposite end from the heat lamp.

With the outdoor placement, large size and open sides/top of your brooder I'm not sure you're going to be able to keep the temperatures stable at the 90-95 degree temps necessary for the first week (reduced by 5 degrees each week thereafter). What do you think? An inexpensive digital thermometer will be able to give you that answer in advance of your new babies' arrival!

I hope this helps! Good luck and enjoy!!!!
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When I built my brooder it was 6 foot long by 2 foot wide. I enclosed one end 2 feet long and left the other 4 feet open and put a partition between with enough space for them to crawl under to go to the open area. It has worked out great I have two 100 watt bulbs in the enclosed area on a dimmer switch to reduce heat when needed. This way when they are ready to venture out they do it at their own pace and when I see them stay out I just remove them from the brooder to the grow out pen.
Yep that does help
that's what I was thinking: that they need to be able to get away from the heat if necessary and that the heat on the water wouldn't be too good. I put both lamps on one? My last (first) batch of chicks didn't want the heat lamp at all when I got them, the temp of the house and each other was sufficient, but again, that was inside. I guess one thing I'll have to do is see how warm it will get with just one or with both lamps and decide from there whether to use one or both.
I REALLY think you need a thermometer to know how warm it will be inside your brooder BEFORE they get there and be ready and able to adjust the temperature accordingly. I have raised chicks in the summer (in the garage), in the bathroom (in the coldest winter temps) and currently have three batches in the basement and they have ALL ALWAYS started off in 90-95 degree temperatures. You want to avoid them requiring the body heat from other chicks to avoid stress. Let 'em concentrate on eating, drinking, pooping and sleeping and you worry about their body temps.

Here's a picture of one of my brooder lamp set-ups in the basement (kindly disregard the horrifying cobwebs in the insulation, which were NOT there before brooding three sets of chicks down there! They're dusty little buggers!!!). I like to hang it from the ceiling by a chain and some "S" hooks (clamped closed for safety) or some carabiner (sp?) clips in order to be able to raise or lower the lamp when necessary. If you wanted to, you could attach two more pieces of wood onto one side of your brooder in an upside down "L" shape in order to hang the lamp from it in a similar way. Just a thought.

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I will, I have a thermometer, I just meant that I'll do a trial run with the thermometer before I start cutting holes to make it permanent. That way I know if I'm making 1 or 2 holes. Thanks for the advice though.
BTW: I just checked out your BYC page and laughed several times at your descriptions of your chicken addiction (I'm familiar with it!). If you're interested in "silly looking" chickens, don't forget the FRIZZLES or Sizzles! I got three Cochin bantam Frizzles in January. They're hysterical! I can't wait for the temps to warm up here in New England to be able to get 'em out in the Big Girl Coop!

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