Trouble regulating temp in brooder

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by jcf3202, Apr 27, 2011.

  1. jcf3202

    jcf3202 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi all!
    Just got my first chicks last Saturday (2 BR, 3 RIR) and I am having a hard time regulating the temperature in the brooder. My brooder is a 2 X 3 metal dog crate, I zip tied cardboard 18 inches tall to all the sides. I have a wireless thermometer under the lamp, 2 inches off the floor. It is in an unheated garage. Yesterday it was about 80 outside in the sun and last night the low was around 64. The temp fluctuates anywhere from 88 to 102. We have 4 different watt light bulbs we have been using; 250 heat bulb, 200 regular light bulb, 150 heat bulb & 100 regular light bulb. We have been switching them around and also raising and lowering the lamp. I just can't seem to keep it right around 95 for long. I'm afraid to go anywhere for fear I'll either freeze them or fry them!
    Anyone with ceramic reptile heaters experience? Are they any easier to regulate?

    I have 6 more chicks due around May 17th and I would like to perfect this issue before then.

    Is this a common problem or is it just us?

    Thank you for any ideas or suggestions in advance.
  2. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

    Aug 13, 2007
    North/Central Florida
    Your chicks will tell you if they are comfortable or not.

    Radiant heat is hard to measure with an ordinary thermometer so chick behavior is the way to go with temperature regulation.

    This is what you're looking for:


    Just make sure you have a range of temperature in the brooder so they can choose to move from warmer to cooler if they need to.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I understand your concern. To expand on A.T Hagans's comment, if you can keep one area of the brooder in the proper temperature range but let the rest cool off below the proper tmepertaure, they will find their own comfort zone. I'd go nuts trying to keep the entire brooder the perfect temperature.

    I have a 3' x 5' wire brooder with a draft guard. I keep one area in the right temperature range, though sometimes that specific area gets a little warm. But the far corners can be as much as 20 to 30 degrees cooler than the perfect temperatue. The first couple of days they tend to hang out under the heat, but by the third day they are playing all over the brooder. I think them playing in different temperatures makes them healthier too.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2011
  4. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 20, 2011
    middle TN
    I'm brooding outdoors in a wooden box and basically have two setups going to deal with the swings in temperature. Setup 1 is a 175W infrared heat light at 24" height which works for 65-85 degrees ambient (I shut it off if when it gets hotter than that based on them avoiding the light). Setup 2 is a 100W infrared heat light at 16" and works for temps below 65 degrees (it's been as low as 49 out and they were quite content). They're singing and all over the place so it seems to be working for them.

    I gave up on the thermometer because it's very difficult to get an accurate reading with infrared heat BUT it's also very easy to tell by the chicks' behavior whether they are too warm or cool. If they aren't going into the light to sleep, it's too hot. If they are spending their awake time under the light, they're too cold. If they wander around the unheated area while awake and then go into the light to rest, it's perfect.

    ETA: The half of my brooder box that isn't under the light is the same temperature as the outside air. I believe that this situation more closely replicates mama hen. A mother hen doesn't provide heat to the surrounding air -- the chicks return to her when they need to warm up.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2011
  5. jcf3202

    jcf3202 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for the replies. I tried to observe them around the light but as soon as I open the shed door they all run to the far corner. [​IMG]

    But you are right about trying to keep the "perfect temperature". It is driving me crazy and I think I'm driving my husband crazy talking about it all the time, too! And I have also thought about the point made concerning the mama hen not heating the surrounding air and the chicks just returning to warm up. Makes sense to me. Just a nervous new mom I guess.

    I'll try a 100 watt bulb at about 20 inches and let them decide whats best and quit obsessing over it.

    Thanks again.

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