Noob mistake with the Brooder Light

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by SuperK, Oct 22, 2016.

  1. SuperK

    SuperK Chillin' With My Peeps

    This is a mixed feeling post for me. on the one hand, I want to share our near fatal (chicken wise, not human) experience with the group, but that means I have to admit I did something stupid in the first place.

    Well, here goes: We have a young rooster that was scalped by the hens and older pullets in the coop on the one day I allowed them to mingle. while cleaning the cage he was in. They looked to be getting along so I left him out for another 4 hours. Still ok at noon check, so I went into the house . At the evening feeding, I found him hunkered in the corner as far away as he could get, scalped and bleeding. (Posted in another forum)
    >First mistake- letting him out with the big chickens alone to soon.

    So we put him the quarantine pen, first aid, started 'the get better soon' routine, and because there seemed to be a bit of shock involved we reinstated the brooder light to aid in the cooler nights with a bald head and neck. We placed the quarantine cage in the coop so he wouldn't "feel" lonely or be too far away from the others.
    >Second mistake- leaving him in the cage with the brooder light on, in the coop with the others.

    Since chickens are chickens and they all wanted to see what was in the quarantine cage(QC), they climb on the top and their weight presses down the wire lowering the ceiling. We add support 1x2's vertically in the corners and a plywood top to to the QC, but that means the brooder light needs to be placed differently. We propped in place against the side of the QC, aiming it into a single corner so he could still walk away from the heat if he needed to cool off a bit.
    >Third and almost fatal Mistake- overlooking (disregarding) brooder light safety in favor of letting the little Rooster stay with his"buddies" during his convalescent period.

    All went well for a few days which only reinforced our mistakes. So this is almost real time reporting in that when we went out to do the morning feeding and first aid for Lightning yesterday(10/21), we found that the lamp had been dislodged and lamp side down on the linoleum. We unplugged it and picked it up and saw that there was a neatly singed hole right through the 1/2 " plywood to the ground below! Yup, edges fully charred and linoleum a dark mess.

    Lesson for us? Even a 100 watt bulb(our red lamp size) given enough time can burn through plywood and if we hadn't caught it, maybe the coop and the chickens and who knows what else could have been lost if this had caught fire instead of just smoldering in place. Our next heat lamp installation will be fixed permanently so even the biggest inquisitive chicken can't knock it loose. That was too close a call for me.

    [​IMG] The hole burned through as found

    [​IMG] Cleared so we could see it better

    [​IMG] Cut out for repair

    [​IMG] Screwed in place

    [​IMG] New linoleum installed and caulking curing

    It was a frightful experience for JoAnn and I, and a worse hit to the ego having to admit making such a huge noob mistake. But better to admit the problem if it can keep one person from doing the same thing.
     
  2. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    7,664
    1,708
    421
    May 19, 2009
    western PA
    My Coop
    Wow, that is really something. I am so glad no actual fire resulted!! Thanks so much for sharing this. We talk about brooder light danger all the time but to actually see the results is a real warning. Don't feel bad, it happens You aren't the first here by any means to have a brooder light mishap. I'm amazed it went all the way thru the wood without igniting. I think God was watching over you guys. There's a company out there I would love to have their product. http://www.sweeterheater.com excellent heater, no fire danger.
    You had a red bulb in the socket? I used one once too, then switched to 60 watt incandescent. soft white. Someone on BYC had written a neat article about the different ways the red heat and the incandescent whites throw heat. I had not known that. That the red heat bulbs are designed to actually heat objects in their rage of effct. But the incandescent whites only threw off heat as a result of being on. No wonder my chicks had gotten so hot under the red heat bulbs.
    I thought back to how (when I was young), Mom had a red heat bulb in a lamp and she would shine it on a sore muscle to help relax it. She was always extremely careful to make sure our skin didn't get to hot. I can still remember the feel of the heat heating up the skin. I also know the gentle warmth of sitting under a white incandescent bulb. Lesson learned for me. I am so glad you didn;'t have a tragedy. Thank you so much for taking time to share and illustrate the incident. It is such a learning experience for all of us!
    Best Regards,
    Karen
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    12,748
    5,692
    436
    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    You are certainly not alone, and I absolutely appreciate your sharing. It can't have been easy. I'm so glad what happened to a family not far from us did not happen to you!

    [​IMG]
    Like @3riverschick , I have mentioned the Sweeter Heater to folks who want some kind of heat, either for coops in cold weather or for birds recovering from injury. Personally I don't use any kind of lamp at anytime, not even for chicks, but that's certainly a personal choice based on what's right for the individual and their situation and needs. No need to tell you about heat lamps - and again thank you and I'm so glad it wasn't worse. Hope Mr. Rooster is recovering as well.
     
  4. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

    29,538
    17,465
    666
    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Thank you for sharing your experience as well as forgoing your ego in the name of helping others.
     
  5. SuperK

    SuperK Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks to all that replied. I did go by the website and checked out the heaters, and the next batch of chicks, we'll be getting one. The nights here are the same as they are all the time- roughly 80 degrees, it was just the featherless area and the shock we were worried about for this little guy, He is exactly 5 weeks old today.
    [​IMG]

    This shot taken the day of the attack. His neck is now dry and pink, not red and swollen. He is doing all the things that a healthy chick does- fluffs, preens, flaps, bounces around and eats and drinks well. I think we can keep the light off from today.

    The deck floor of the coop is repaired, the light unplugged and secured, and will be disposed of.
    I will say that we originally had a 150 watt flood white lamp in this and we held it up high. Monitored the temp with an electronic kitchen thermometer (-30 to 500 F ) to be sure we didn't cook the little guys. The white light seemed to upset the other chickens so we changed to a lower wattage red bulb. It was the recommendation of one of the local chicken women, so we tried it. Worked well for the purpose until now. But it wasn't their fault, it was mine. I did not account for the oafish nature of inquisitive but still growing adolescent chickens. Average age of our flock is 8 1/2 weeks old.

    Thanks again for all the advice
     
  6. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

    29,538
    17,465
    666
    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    It's only a little cooler here. At two weeks, my chicks no longer needed brooder heat (they were indoors, though).
     
  7. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    12,748
    5,692
    436
    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
  8. SuperK

    SuperK Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you for the links- so sorry to hear that the little guy got frostbitten, but glad he's recovered.
    I am hoping that Lightning does to, including getting his head and neck feathers back so we don't have to change his name to Friar Tuck.

    You can see that Temps here don't get wild swings, maybe 10 degrees from day to night temps and that is year round.
    [​IMG]
    Beginning to wonder now if we need heat at all or if the cave idea with their tendency to snuggle together will be enough.
     
  9. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

    29,538
    17,465
    666
    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Why not try the cave idea and observe them? If they start chirping during the night, its likely that they are a little too cool, but if they settle down, you're sorted! It may just take one sleepless night on your behalf to check on them every hour or so, but it could be worth it.
     
  10. Island Juli

    Island Juli Chillin' With My Peeps

    108
    6
    53
    Jan 25, 2016
    Hey! It's your neighbor down the street. (Sorry out of touch lately, sick chickens and humans but all sorted out now).

    I use a heating pad cave on high the first couple of nights, then drop it down to low a couple of nights and then off. Works great!
     
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by