My Renovated Prefab Coop

ThatTeowonna

Songster
Oct 12, 2020
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Columbia, SC
Don't go by thermometer. MHPs don't warm the air at all and rely on direct contact. How hot does it feel to your bare hand when you rest it on the pad? Should feel noticeably warm, but definitely not scorching.

I wouldn't close up the ventilation on the door either, that's the majority of the ventilation in your coop right now. The heat source should be placed on one side of the door or the other, so the walls can provide the draft protection you need.

80 degrees overall is really a lot warmer than I ever have my chicks at outside. We usually are around 40F to 60F when the chicks are being brooded. I leave all the ventilation open and the only solid walls are the ones immediately around the heat pad itself.
Ok. I will set it up again in the morning. I’m going to “trust the process”. With what happened to my previous flock, you can understand my concern. Thanks for the encouragement.
 

ThatTeowonna

Songster
Oct 12, 2020
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374
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Columbia, SC
I'm sure that you've read all you can on the MHP but are you aware that the chicks must be able to touch their backs to the pad?
They really will be warm enough with the pad set to low. I don't think you can go by the temp in the "cave". I've had very good luck with the MHP outdoors even with my fall chicks.
Think of it this way: a hen doesn't keep her chicks warm 24/7. Even in cold weather they run out and play and go back under mom when they need warmth. If you lifted up the hen and held a thermometer in the space under her, I doubt it would be 95. However if you touch her underside it is much warmer than the air. It is also safer for you and the chicks. I'm scared to death of starting a fire with those red bulbs.
Whatever you decide, good luck!
Thanks for explaining. I will set it up again tomorrow. I’m very nervous with these new chicks. But I’ll trust the process, especially with so many positive reviews.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
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Jul 3, 2016
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Ok. I will set it up again in the morning. I’m going to “trust the process”. With what happened to my previous flock, you can understand my concern. Thanks for the encouragement.

I understand it can be nervewracking - the very first night I brooded outdoors I could barely sleep and I think I made my hubby get up and check on them a couple of times. Good thing too, because the outlet I was using turned out to be unreliable and was tripping and shutting off power (no chicks were lost despite that). So if checking on them frequently makes you feel safer, do so.

And you have a backup with the ceramic bulb so if anything doesn't seem to be working correctly when the chicks come, you can always plug that in.

Best of luck!
 

ThatTeowonna

Songster
Oct 12, 2020
204
374
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Columbia, SC
Don't go by thermometer. MHPs don't warm the air at all and rely on direct contact. How hot does it feel to your bare hand when you rest it on the pad? Should feel noticeably warm, but definitely not scorching.

I wouldn't close up the ventilation on the door either, that's the majority of the ventilation in your coop right now. The heat source should be placed on one side of the door or the other, so the walls can provide the draft protection you need.

80 degrees overall is really a lot warmer than I ever have my chicks at outside. We usually are around 40F to 60F when the chicks are being brooded. I leave all the ventilation open and the only solid walls are the ones immediately around the heat pad itself.
One more question: if you had to guess, how close to the ground do you think it should be for starters? Three inches? Closer? I don’t know how small chicks really are... I’ve only had direct contact with chickens.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
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One more question: if you had to guess, how close to the ground do you think it should be for starters? Three inches? Closer? I don’t know how small chicks really are... I’ve only had direct contact with chickens.

Do you have yours flat or curved like a cave/upside-down U? If flat, slant it if possible, so one side sits higher than the other - like low side is maybe 1.5"-2" off the ground, higher side is maybe 3". If it's curved then maybe around 3" at the center, and the sides will provide warmth. I've seen curved ones set on a slant too.

I do mine a bit different than most, I have it in a U shape so the center sits low and sides are high (I'm trying to approximate a hen's belly). Then I add in extra shavings so it's only about a 1" clearance in the center. If they want to be really warm they crawl down under the middle, otherwise they sort of press against a side. But admittedly this is not a efficient set up as it doesn't have capacity for many chicks.
 

ThatTeowonna

Songster
Oct 12, 2020
204
374
121
Columbia, SC
Do you have yours flat or curved like a cave/upside-down U? If flat, slant it if possible, so one side sits higher than the other - like low side is maybe 1.5"-2" off the ground, higher side is maybe 3". If it's curved then maybe around 3" at the center, and the sides will provide warmth. I've seen curved ones set on a slant too.

I do mine a bit different than most, I have it in a U shape so the center sits low and sides are high (I'm trying to approximate a hen's belly). Then I add in extra shavings so it's only about a 1" clearance in the center. If they want to be really warm they crawl down under the middle, otherwise they sort of press against a side. But admittedly this is not a efficient set up as it doesn't have capacity for many chicks.
Mine was more like yours. Thanks again. Maybe I’ll go back to sleep now.
 

janiedoe

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
May 7, 2017
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Do you have yours flat or curved like a cave/upside-down U? If flat, slant it if possible, so one side sits higher than the other - like low side is maybe 1.5"-2" off the ground, higher side is maybe 3". If it's curved then maybe around 3" at the center, and the sides will provide warmth. I've seen curved ones set on a slant too.

I do mine a bit different than most, I have it in a U shape so the center sits low and sides are high (I'm trying to approximate a hen's belly). Then I add in extra shavings so it's only about a 1" clearance in the center. If they want to be really warm they crawl down under the middle, otherwise they sort of press against a side. But admittedly this is not a efficient set up as it doesn't have capacity for many chicks.
That is what I do too. My heating pad is "wrapped" in a large piece of 16 ga. Hardware cloth. (I use a pillow case around it and rubber band the end so they can't get trapped in the case.) I mold it to the shape I want for the first week to week and a half. After that I attach it to a bakers rack (with safety pins) so they don't crush each other climbing on top. With 15 chicks you will probably want to make sure they can exit from the sides and the ends so that no one is trapped. So you may need a rack to start.
I've used mine for as many as a dozen with no problems. The chicks really do feather faster and seem more independent. Plus,since they are raised in the coop integration is so easy. I've raised 3 batches this way (1 spring and 2 fall) and haven't lost any or had to worry about pasty butt.
Just push them up under the pad after they eat and drink. You may have to do it a couple of times to get them to stay. Once a couple of them catch on the others will follow.
 

RoyalChick

Crossing the Road
Nov 3, 2019
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Thanks for explaining. I will set it up again tomorrow. I’m very nervous with these new chicks. But I’ll trust the process, especially with so many positive reviews.
I was a complete nervous wreck too but it worked out just great. I had mine tilted about an inch off the ground at the low end (that was lower than needed I think) and initially 2" up at the high end.
I raised both progressively based on the chick's behavior. The LOVED it. And it was so fun to watch. I ended up putting a camera pointing right under the pad so I could see them run in and huddle before shooting out again to explore.
The way I calmed myself that it was working was not a thermometer - as others have said here it doesn't warm the air - but by touching my fingers to where the chicks would put their backs. Then you can tell it is nice and toasty.
I did once forget to turn it back on after cleaning and the chicks let me know immediately. So as long as you watch closely you will get reassurance every few minutes!
Have fun rebuilding your flock.
 

ThatTeowonna

Songster
Oct 12, 2020
204
374
121
Columbia, SC
Here is my updated system. I just need to add the towel, more straw on top, and the feeder/ waterer. I’m feeling so much more confident now. Thanks so much guys. You are really the best.

Pics:
Added the MHP back. I used the suspension method that @Chad Duncan devised in his 2015 post.

6BAAF88E-16D1-463B-ADC0-E810CA3FCB7A.jpeg


Next, added hemp straw.

82FC9BFC-93D1-4395-A060-F8BC3CFC72D5.jpeg


The straw made all the difference in the world. Feeling much better now

F187DD98-7659-4AE2-814D-26E2E0D8B1D0.jpeg

I also see some gaps that I'd like to plug up to eliminate drafts. Other than that, I'm Ready For Those chicks!!
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