Tarp safe for heat lamp?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Lesleyhg, Jan 13, 2017.

  1. Lesleyhg

    Lesleyhg Just Hatched

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    Hi, brand new. I have baby chicks close to hatching from a friend. I have a ceramic reptile heat lamp with a red 150watt bulb, and thermometer to check the temp. The brooder box is a metal dog cage, with the heat lamp securely clamped on top. However, i need to wrap something around the dog cage to hold the heat in. Is it safe to fold a plastic tarp and clamp it half way up the cage? Other than that i was thinking of having acrylic cut. I am scared of cardboard. A plastic bin would be too big for the cage's height.
     
  2. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC!! Pictures of your proposed brooder setup would help, and a little more information as well. How many chicks are you expecting? (I know having hatched eggs here, there's never any guarantee of an exact number, but just an estimate of what you think you might have.) Will your brooder be in the house, on an unheated porch, in the garage, or right out in the coop? What's your general location? (not exact location, but knowing that helps us know your general climate)

    In a heated space, I wouldn't wrap the brooder at all with anything. You want to raise chicks, not bake them, right? Chicks need a certain amount of cool, and that means they need a place to get way if they get too warm. Heat lamps heat the entire space, not just the chicks. Watch the chicks' behavior - too cold and they huddle right under the lamp, and too warm they try to get as far away from it as they can and spread out. If they are extremely warm, they'll even "pant". While chicks absolutely need to be kept warm, too warm can be dangerous as well. If you've ever seen broody hen with her chicks, they aren't under her all the time, even when it's cold outside. They just explore, run around being chicks, and dash under her for quick warm-up or if they get scared, or when the sun goes down. So a little spot of cool helps their overall development.

    I love using a wire dog crate for those rare times when I have chicks indoors. I think you'll like it too. The only time I brood indoors is when I have chicks right out of the incubator or chicks that have been shipped. I like to keep an eye on them for the first 24 hours or so to make sure they are eating and drinking and know how to get into their "cave" before they go out to my outdoor brooder. It also gives me the chance to watch shipped chicks for shipping stress. But you will need to have some kind of barrier over the bottom sides of the crate. Those little boogers are hatched wanting to explore, and they'll squirt out through those bars faster than you can put them back in. I know you said you don't like cardboard, but a bit of it about 6-8 inches high all the way around is all you need. My crate is permanently set up as a brooder, so I have it wrapped with hardware cloth instead, going about halfway up, making sure all the little sharp points are turned down and can't hurt the chicks - or you when you reach in.

    There is another way to raise chicks, but it does sound like your setup is pretty complete and you're just waiting for them to hatch. Many of us are now using heating pads for our chicks, and love it. Might be something to think about if you get more chicks later. There is more information on this thread:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/956958/mama-heating-pad-in-the-brooder-picture-heavy-update

    Good luck with them, and again, Welcome to BYC!
     
  3. Lesleyhg

    Lesleyhg Just Hatched

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    Thanks so much! I am in Florida, and it is in the 70's now, but they will be in my garage for a couple weeks. I am too scared to put them outside because we both work, which is also why I am too afraid to use a heating pad. I don't want anything touching the bedding while I am not there. I only have the lamp on one side of the cage because I know they do need a cool spot. I was hoping that wrapping the tarp around the cage halfway up would keep some heat in and still not overheat, but I am not sure it is safe around heat. We will have about 8 chicks. We will use my daughters old baby cam to watch them while we are gone.
     
  4. ejcrist

    ejcrist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think you'll be ok with the tarp as long as the light isn't too close to it. They will burn but you'd have to apply quite a bit of heat close by to get it going. I know I use one of those large plastic bins you get at Wally Mart for the first couple of days after they come out of the hatcher, and tape a 1" dowel to the bin lengthwise and then clamp the light to the dowel at one of the ends so they can hang out anywhere between the light and the cool area. I use a 125w bulb indoors (in my dining room) and it seems to work just fine. If I want to raise the lamp I just slide one or more short pieces of 2X4 under the dowel on the ends. The lamp I use is a standard issue metal type with the protective cage over the front. Even if it fell into the bedding the bulb would never touch the shavings so that would buy you some time.
     
  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    I sure understand your concerns. To me, the difference is that I'd rather use something that is specifically designed to come into contact with fabrics, upholstery, etc than something which can combust when it contacts them. But everyone has a different way of doing and looking at things, and in the end all we want is the best for our chicks and chickens. [​IMG] I've often said that if there was only one "right" way to raise chickens, this entire forum would take up one page and could be read in half an hour!

    I think your chicks will be just fine in those temperatures in Florida. I raise my chicks outdoors in the spring here in Northwestern Wyoming - and springtime in Wyoming means temperatures still dipping into the teens and twenties some days. I've raised 6 batches of chicks using Mama Heating Pad in a pen in the outdoor run and haven't lost a single one. In fact, most people, myself included, find they do even better - feathering out faster and being calmer because they sleep all night long instead of having light 24/7. So please, don't worry! Your chicks should do just great in the setup you plan for the garage. You're a lot nicer than me.....after doing this for awhile now I just let them fluff and dry (or recover from shipping) make sure they eat and drink, and know where warm is. Then out they go. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    Lesley, you will for sure need something around the outside as a draft screen, but this does not need to be more than 12" high. The biggest issue with heat lamps of any sort is that even dust on the bulb can create a fire risk.

    Consider this: Put your hand on any 150W bulb. Not gonna happen, unless you want to pay a visit to the emergency room to get treated for a burn. Now, put your hand on a heating pad. Which one do you trust the most in contact with combustible items, chick dander, shavings, or anything that might fall on top of either one? Which one do you trust in contact with a new born baby, because that is what your chicks are. IMO, that heating pad is much safer as a brooder. It is designed to have direct contact with human skin. Wrap the connection between pad and cord, if the cord is removeable, if that will make you feel better. Wrap the pad as well, if you're concerned about chicks pecking at it. The pad is not only safer (IMO) but it provides a much more natural chick rearing experience. The babies snuggle under it, much as they would a mama hen. And they trill themselves to sleep. I've never heard a heat lamp reared chick trill herself to sleep!

    No matter what you use, your job will be to start weaning them off heat after the first couple of days. If you use a heat lamp, you can raise it every few days or every week to decrease the amount of heat under it. You will also want to turn it off for a bit every day, starting with a few minutes at a time, and increasing that time daily until they are without heat for several hours/day. You will base the "off time" entirely on how they react. If you use a heating pad, they will wean themselves, though you may need to turn it down as they grow.

    No matter what you choose, enjoy your chickies. I'm glad you're brooding them in the garage, and not in your home!!!
     
  7. Lesleyhg

    Lesleyhg Just Hatched

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    You guys are great. Not sure which way I will go yet, all of you have great ideas, and I am grateful. But...So you're saying a standard home heating pad, like the blue ones from Walmart would be okay, lol? I have two of those. I guess I always had the assumption that heating blankets were extremely dangerous, at least my mom said so. And I thought they could not be left on all day. It is too late now to order a special mama hen pad online. They will hatch any time now. I would love to just bring the chicks to the hospital where i work, but that would be stressful to my chicks and my boss!
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I use heat lamps for my brooder in the coop. The first thing I do is toss that clamp that comes with the lamps so I’m not tempted to use it. Instead I securely wire the heat lamp in place. Mine will not fall.

    In winter I use 3 mil plastic to wrap the brooder. With the heat lamps securely wired I can assure they do not come that close to the plastic. And I use 250 watt bulbs. In summer I use some plastic to make a breeze barrier around the bottom and use a 75 or 125 watt bulb. You are not brooding outside in the coop.

    The issue I have with brooding outside is temperature swings. If you are brooding in a stable temperature it’s not that hard to set up a brooder with a heat lamp or anything else to have one area warm enough and another area cool enough. In winter my ambient temperatures may go from single digits up to 60 or maybe even 70 degrees. I keep one end warm and sometimes too hot. The far end is always cool enough and sometimes there is ice in it. But there is always an area that is neither too warm nor too cold. The chicks are great at self-regulating.

    I don’t know what kind of temperature swing you will get in that garage. Your problems will not occur at normal temperatures, it’s extremes that will get you. I don’t know if you are opening and closing that garage door taking a car in and out. I don’t even know if your garage is attached or detached. I’d think in your climate you wouldn’t need more than a 6” or so high barrier around the bottom to keep direct breezes off of them even if the garage door is opened and closed a lot. That lamp should not come anywhere close enough to be a threat to whatever you use to be a fire threat as long as it is securely attached.

    You are right to have concerns no matter which method you use to provide heat, especially if electricity is involved. In addition to the standard dangers from using extension cords and electricity in general, each device has its own risks. Heating pads are considered a low risk device as long as they are used properly. They work great to brood chicks inside or outside. Lots of chicks are safely brooded each year with all kinds of different heating devices. If they are used correctly they are really safe. If they are not used correctly any of them can cause problems. I’ll include am excerpt from a Public Health Advisory and a link so you can read the entire article.

    Every year, the CPSC receives an average of eight death reports associated with the use of heating pads.1 Most deaths are caused by heating pad fires and involve persons over the age of 65. Heating pad fires can occur when broken or worn insulation of the electric wires in the heating pad causes the pad to ignite or when electrical cords are cracked or frayed. CPSC estimates that more than 1,600 heating pad burns are treated each year in hospital emergency rooms.2

    http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/PublicHealthNotifications/ucm242866.htm
     
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  9. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Yeah, somehow unless you work in a feed store our little critters just aren't welcome at work. Go figger!

    You are wise to consider that a heating pad you've had for awhile isn't a good idea, but that depends entirely on how old it is. Older pads, those just kinda stuck forgotten in the back of a bathroom cabinet, are not what I'd want anyone to use! The heating elements inside can become brittle and that's not good! Walmart and Walgreen's do carry the pad that most of us use...it's the Sunbeam X-press heat and it says right on the box that it has a "stay on" feature - that's the most critical thing. You need a pad that doesn't shut itself off every two hours or so. For only 8 chicks you could certainly get by with the smaller sized pad as well.

    As for the risks, as I tell anyone, anytime you are using an electrical device to produce heat, the risk is always the regardless of what you are using. My husband, who has been a electrician for over 40 years, would be the first to stop me if he thought I was taking unnecessary chances, believe me! (Even after being married to him for 49 years, I still got "the look and the lecture" when I grabbed the toaster cord and pulled it to unplug it rather than physically grasp the plug between thumb and forefinger and unplug the darn thing) But common sense goes a long way with any heating method. Make sure connections are secure. Make sure the pad is a relatively newer one. Make sure chicks can't trapped between the pad and the frame. Especially with your temperatures, there's no way the chicks need the pad on the highest setting anyway, so don't set it on high....start with 4 or 5 and watch the chicks' behavior. They'll tell you if they are comfortable. After the first few days you'll find they spend as much time sitting on top of it as they do under it, and if it was dangerously high they darn sure wouldn't be doing that. The heat is turned down gradually after the first critical couple of days, so it's just going to get cooler as their time as babies goes on. Test it before you use it...turn it on for a day and check it for any signs of being too warm or having problems. These aren't difficult precautions...they are basically the same thing you'd do with a heat lamp. Remember too that the heating pad doesn't heat the entire area the chicks are using, it just heats the chicks. And the heat needs to be near their backs, just as when they scoot under Mama Hen.

    One of the biggest drawbacks to using a heating pad has been that when the power goes out, the pad goes off. Then it has to be turned back on and reset to "stay on". @Henless has found a pad that does all of the things we want a heating pad to do with the added advantage of turning itself back on after an outage and going to the last setting the pad was on....ingenious, and she really likes it! Here's a link to that pad:

    http://www.sunbeam.com/pain-relief/...ology-blue/000771-810-000.html#sz=12&start=18

    Now, as I said before, you sound like you have your entire setup geared toward using the reptile lamp, and if that's what you want to do that's great....there are thousands of people doing that and they are very happy. So I don't mean to sound like I am pushing anything off on you that is outside your comfort zone! I believe in MHP based on my own positive experiences with it, but I know it's not the only way to raise them and it's not always the best for each situation! I had mentioned it in my first post and am now just trying to answer your questions and concerns. If you just aren't comfortable, for goodness sake don't do it! [​IMG]
     
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  10. Folly's place

    Folly's place Overrun With Chickens

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    I've always used the red heat lamps, very well secured, to brood chicks. There needs to be a temperature gradient in the brooder, from warm under the lamp, to cooler at the other end of the brooder. Your setup sounds fine to me; because it's new, use your thermometer to evaluate the temps in the brooder, and adjust things to be comfortable for the chicks. Be sure that your chicks can't get out of the dog crate!!! I use whatever's available to wrap the dog crate as needed, as long as it's not near the heat lamp! Also, always have an extra light bulb for the time that the first bulb burns out. Mary
     

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