Heat lamps and pads
QI was given a small incubator for Christmas, and can’t wait to use it, but I will need a brooder. What are the pros and cons of heat lamps and heat pads?
AAnne Perdeaux says: This is a question explored in our Hatching Special this month (pages 6-15). Heat lamps are a traditional method of keeping chicks warm, but heat pads or panels have become very popular. A heat lamp is a powerful bulb, protected by a metal shade. It is hung from a chain, so it can be raised and lowered to adjust the temperature beneath. A heat pad stands on legs, and the chicks go under it for warmth, as they would with a hen. Heat pads are more expensive than lamps, but don’t get nearly as hot, making them much cheaper to run and considerably safer. They are especially convenient for brooding indoors, having only to be plugged in, rather than suspended from a hook. Only the area under the unit is warmed, so even in a small brooder there is a cooler area for chicks to eat and exercise, plus the heat pad provides a secure place for resting. One disadvantage is the difficulty of checking the chicks if they’re under the heat pad. Another downside is droppings sticking to the warm surface, entailing frequent cleaning. The heat pad also needs careful positioning in the brooder to avoid creating narrow gaps where chicks could become trapped. Heat pads come in different sizes, so a larger one may eventually be required if operations expand, and in a particularly cold environment the extra heat produced by a lamp may be preferable.