If you are a farm person, you would know how newly hatched baby chicks require a certain level of heat and temperature. After being born, these baby chicks are naturally unable to regulate their body temperatures, which is why, ideally, the mother hen keeps them under the warmth of her body for a couple of initial days. The maternal feather-bed is about 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, over time, the chicks start to develop the ability of body temperature regulation, and they start spending less time under the warmth of their mother. Nevertheless, sometimes it is utterly necessary to maintain the heat in the brooder manually. For this, a reliable heat lamp should be used to maintain a set temperature for the chicks’ health.
Why is Brooder Safety Important When Using a Heat Lamp?
Common sense and a couple of terrible incidents of burnt brooders with irreversible loss of chicks and hens have convinced several people that heat lamps need to be used very carefully. Whether you use the illuminated ones or the infrared ones, securing them so that they do not start a fire is extremely important. You can secure them using baling wire ties. This is a good idea because then you won’t have to worry about the light falling and starting a fire. You can also use a chain instead, but baler wire is recommended because it doesn’t heat up like chain would.
What is the Ideal Temperature for the chicks?
The fluff on the chicks’ body when they are born is unable to protect them from the fierce temperature of the outside world. This is why it is very crucial to keep an eye on the temperature of the brooder. Once the initial phase of the chicks’ lives has passed, they grow feathers that regulate their body temperatures.
Starting from 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the first week, you should gradually tone down the brooder’s temperature to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit around six weeks. However, an important aspect to note is that when chicks start spending less time in the brooder box and more time roaming around, they are ready to face the world.
Important Points and Tips for Using Heat Lamps in the Brooder
Consider the Surroundings
Although baby chicks are unable to regulate their body temperatures in the initial days and might die of cold if not given proper warmth, it is also essential to consider a few things before installing artificial heat in the brooder. After installing a heat lamp, the brooder’s temperature is also affected by the number of chicks in it. If there are many hatchlings in the brooder, you might need a stronger heat lamp.
Also, for instance, if it is insanely hot outside when you are brooding, then you might not need an artificial source of heat for the baby chicks. Moreover, it is also essential that the brooder is checked for any whiff or wind destabilizing the heat produced by the heat lamp. One tip is to use a digital thermometer for constantly monitoring the temperature.
Let the Chicks Guide You
If you observe the little hatchlings closely, you will note that there are certain sounds and behaviors of the chicks that indicate if you need to turn the heat up or tone it down a bit. If you see your chicks are mostly found spread out around the walls instead of under the brooder, then it is highly likely that the brooder temperature is too hot for them. Also, if the chicks are seen running away from the lamp and/or panting, dehydrated, or showing signs of pasty butt, you should tone down the heat in the brooder.
On the other hand, if you see that the chicks are always found huddling together near the heat lamp and/or making loud noises, then it is probably too cold for them. In this case, you should turn the heat up and observe if the chicks behave normally – that is, eating, drinking, and exploring the space without any distress.
The Best Heat Lamp For The Brooder
It is always best to invest in a good quality heat lamp for the brooder. The heat lamp you use must be safe in various aspects. The heat source should be well covered by an insulator material. This is crucially important as the lamp comes off the hook and falls; a fire can be prevented.
Various brands have chick brooder built with a lampstand, such as Harris Farms chick nursery with a brooder lampstand. These brooders can fit in a small number of chicks – up to 15 – and are very easy to assemble or dissemble. Also, infrared heat lamps are considered better than white ones. The former ones help the chicks sleep better and more effectively as compared to the latter ones.
On the whole, heat lamps not giving off any light are the best – if you can get your hands on them. They are, however, very hot to touch.
The best practice is to securely suspend two lamps right above the floor of the brooder. It should ideally be about 12 to 18 inches above the floor. If you are using a conventional brooder heat lamp, then fit both of the lamps with 60-watt bulbs. Gooseneck lamps are very effective and are easily available at the feed dealer. These lamps can work well with incandescent bulbs or traditional heat ones.
Why Two Lamps Are Important
Hanging two heat lamps is important because if, for any reason, one lamp fades out or stops working in the middle of the night, the other backup lamp continues to work. Covering the brooder with a cardboard sheet is an effective way to retain heat inside. However, it is extremely dangerous if a fire breaks out. Therefore, be very cautious when placing heat lamps in the brooders.
Brooder Lamp Safety Tips
Providing artificial heat in the brooder to help the little chicks adjust to the new surroundings is undoubtedly a risky business. If proper safety steps are not taken to ensure the chicks’ safety, the end can be very horrible and distressing. The following are some tips to ensure the little hatchlings are safe and sound.
Avoid Self-Assembling or Dissembling
Low-quality brooder lamps use light materials for heat lamps. They put together a cheap heat lamp without ensuring proper safety. Always avoid purchasing cheap heat lamps or if you do get one, avoid fiddling with it as you might leave a socket or a clamp loose.
An Authentic Brooder Lamp is the Safest
Make sure that the heat lamp you get is made for brooders. It should have a heavy-duty porcelain lamp socket that can bear up to 250-watts of heat. More importantly, an authentic brooder lamp always comes with a rail guard. This guard helps keep the heat source away from the floor even if any incident happens, and the lamp breaks loose and falls. The guard also helps keep the lamp rolling on the floor to prevent breaking out a fire. Using a lamp with a high-quality loop is better than using a clamp as it is more secure.
Hanging the Brooder Lamp
The way you suspend the brooder lamp is also a risky task. You should concentrate on hanging the lamp as securely as possible. Use a strong chain that is heatproof for hanging the lamp as it can prevent mishaps and incidents. Also, for additional safety, it is advised that you wrap the power cord on to something that does not let the lamp fall even if the chain breaks. This also prevents the chicks from pecking at the cord and damaging it.
Lock the Brooder Area
It is not only the little chicks that are in danger of catching or starting a fire in the brooder area. Your children, their friends, or even the ones visiting can accidentally start an uncontrollable fire. Locking the brooding area is the safest option for reducing any risk. This, however, does not mean that you leave your chicks unattended. Keep checking and monitoring them periodically.
The brooder heat lamps are extremely risky to use as they can start a fire, resulting in irreversible loss of chicks and other animals’ death. Therefore, the brooder lamps must be used with extensive caution and care. Get high-quality heat lamps made explicitly for this purpose. These heat lamps have guard rails to help prevent the lamp from touching the ground. Doing this is very important in ensuring the safety of your baby chicks.