Using a Brooder Plate in an Outdoor Brooder?

3KillerBs

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12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
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North Carolina Sandhills
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Part of the new coop will be a built-in brooder area. We're hoping to start raising chicks in March, when temperatures could dip below freezing at night or be up around 80 -- this part of North Carolina is utterly unpredictable.

Are the brooder heat plates a good idea in this sort of conditions or do they require a steady ambient temperature to work properly?
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
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I've never used one so no experience. You might contact the manufacturer and see what they think. You might also ask how many chicks they can handle. Might be good info. I can't remember (if I've seen it) how many chicks you plan to get. I'd think if you block wind they would work but I don't know that.

A few years back Beekissed did a comparison of a heating pad cave versus heat lamps. She used both and each had their pros and cons. The only thing that stuck with me from her comparison was that the heat lamp handled larger numbers better.
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,722
27,543
1,066
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
I've never used one so no experience. You might contact the manufacturer and see what they think. You might also ask how many chicks they can handle. Might be good info. I can't remember (if I've seen it) how many chicks you plan to get. I'd think if you block wind they would work but I don't know that.

A few years back Beekissed did a comparison of a heating pad cave versus heat lamps. She used both and each had their pros and cons. The only thing that stuck with me from her comparison was that the heat lamp handled larger numbers better.

I'm confident that we can secure a heat lamp safely. DH uses them at his workplace under museum buildings to keep the pipes thawed (with 40W bulbs). He says that the thing is to spend the money on the higher-quality lamps, remove the useless clamps, and hang them on sturdy chains.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
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Jul 3, 2016
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Depends on the brooder plate, so I'd check the instruction/description carefully. I think there's one brand that's only rated down to 50F or so.

I use a heating pad and I place it in the sheltered part of my brooder, so even with rain or wind I've not had an issue keeping chicks warm enough down in the 40s at least. If you have a cold front moving in, perhaps putting some bales of hay around the brooder would help buffer and insulate against cold drafts.
 

Morrigan

Free Ranging
7 Years
Apr 9, 2014
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N. California
I use a Brinsea brooding plate in my outside brooder, and have used it in temperatures as low as 30 to 32 degrees at night. I put day old chicks in there, straight away from the incubator. The brooder is a converted rabbit hutch, with insulation on three sides and the top. In addition, I put a sweeter heater along one side, situated so that the plate was on the outside of the wires of the coop and not actually touching the chicks as it gets pretty hot. On cold and drafty nights, I hung a towel over the one exposed side. Generally speaking, the temperatures inside the hutch were about 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperatures. I would think it's comparable to having the set-up inside a coop.

Brinsea has a disclaimer not to use their brooding plate outside or in temperatures below 55. I obviously ignored that. I've had no problems or chick losses. I've actually been astounded at how quickly 2 day old chicks are up and about in the morning despite near freezing temperatures.

These are not great pictures, but do give you some idea of my set-up.
IMG_2571.jpg

IMG_2572.jpg
 

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