Heat lamps and pads

Your Chickens - - Ask Our Experts -

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.

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