Need confirmation that I'm doing it right...

mamashark2

In the Brooder
Mar 6, 2018
10
3
16
New chicken owner here - will a mama heating pad be enough heat for 15 chicks (1.5-2.5 weeks old) out in their outdoor barn/coop when temps outside are in the 30s (dipping into the 20s at night)? We are having a cold snap and I have a heat lamp too but hate using it due to fire risk. The first night out in the finished coop we didn't have the heating pad set up and one chick was too dumb to lay with the others under the heat lamp and ended up dying, I'm assuming from the cold since it was her first night out in the cold.

Now with the heating pad they are all under the heating pad most of the time, I just don't want them to starve or freeze! Last night I broke down and turned on their heat lamp too and this morning they were all out and under it, eating, but once I turned it off, they've retreated back under the heating pad... Should I leave the heat lamp on too, or let the heating pad be enough??
 

Crazy for Chickens!

Free Ranging
Jun 9, 2017
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We use a heat lamp, and I think it works best. Just make sure it's more than a foot above the bedding, and nothing is close to it, and you should be fine. Make sure it's secured tightly.
 

Blooie

Team Spina Bifida
8 Years
Feb 25, 2014
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Northwestern Wyoming
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Well, here's my answer to your first question! I raised all but my very first batch of chicks this way, even when temps were down into the twenties, dropping into the teens at times.


As to your second part, photos of your setup would be so helpful, but I think you need a few more posts under your belt before you can do that. Is your heating pad low, right at their back level? Remember that at first they stick pretty close to under Mom - whether that's a broody hen or Mama Heating Pad, so it's not that unusual for them to hang underneath. But you're right, they should be popping out for a bite and a drink and some fun, so you may just have to tweak your setup. It's critical that the "cave" be at back height. What's the pad set at for heat? Is yours open on all sides or closed in on the sides with the towel?
 

Redhead Rae

Chickens, chickens everywhere!
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Jan 4, 2017
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New chicken owner here - will a mama heating pad be enough heat for 15 chicks (1.5-2.5 weeks old) out in their outdoor barn/coop when temps outside are in the 30s (dipping into the 20s at night)? We are having a cold snap and I have a heat lamp too but hate using it due to fire risk. The first night out in the finished coop we didn't have the heating pad set up and one chick was too dumb to lay with the others under the heat lamp and ended up dying, I'm assuming from the cold since it was her first night out in the cold.

Now with the heating pad they are all under the heating pad most of the time, I just don't want them to starve or freeze! Last night I broke down and turned on their heat lamp too and this morning they were all out and under it, eating, but once I turned it off, they've retreated back under the heating pad... Should I leave the heat lamp on too, or let the heating pad be enough??
Mine do well with just a heater plate (similar idea to the MHP). I've heard of some folks using a lamp + MHP during the day and turning the lamp off at night. But they don't need it. They won't starve, they'll come out to eat and then run back to the MHP. Broody hens can do it at those temps without a lap, so a MHP is sufficient.
 

Blooie

Team Spina Bifida
8 Years
Feb 25, 2014
18,285
39,901
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Northwestern Wyoming
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I agree totally....but still it would help to know if the cave is up too high and they are huddling at the back where it's warmest. If the cave is up like an arched eyebrow on a puzzled Hollywood star, then that's just what they are doing. So hard to tell, doggone it! But yes, leave that lamp out...it just confuses them and causes too much drastic change in the temperatures for them to cope with!
 

mamashark2

In the Brooder
Mar 6, 2018
10
3
16
The heating pad is set low enough to touch their backs when they are under it, with a towel over it on 3 sides and partially in the front to make a dark cave that only opens in the front. There is no arch because of how I had to build it. It's flat like one of those fancy brooding plates. They are all laying mixed up together so only take up about half of the space underneath.

My heating pad is a cvs brand that does not auto-shutoff- I've tested this and keep checking it just to be sure and it's always warm to the touch on top... I have it set on high (with high, med, low, off the only options) It also feels warm underneath when I stick my hand in and the chicks feel warm when I handle them.
 

mamashark2

In the Brooder
Mar 6, 2018
10
3
16
Here's a look into where they are hiding. I picked it up a little to look and they looked rather cross with me - they're are spread out across the entire backside, filling half-way up. They are not in a pile and all feel warm to the touch. The 6 littlest ones probably don't touch their backs to the tops, but the bigger ones easily touch, and they all seem cozy and happy...

Here is the setup - I have the food and water close so they don't have to venture far... does it look right?
 

Blooie

Team Spina Bifida
8 Years
Feb 25, 2014
18,285
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Northwestern Wyoming
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My Coop
Oh, pictures are so helpful! Glad you were able to post them. The one thing I can't determine from them is what the supporting frame is made of.....I know I'm asking a lot of questions but I want to make sure that you are completely comfortable with MHP and that your chicks are doing well. The one concern I do have from the photos is how much toweling (or blanket) there is all around the pad. That's a lot of places for chicks to get hung up in or trapped.
 

mamashark2

In the Brooder
Mar 6, 2018
10
3
16
We have old rabbit hutches in the back, so I took one of the doors off - it's got a basic wood frame with hardware cloth stapled on. The heating pad is on top of the hardware cloth with the towel over. I have 2x4s on either side to put it up at the "right" height, so the back is only covered by towel.

So I need to work on the towel so that it is not so bunchy around it?
 

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