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Temperature limits of the Brinsea Ecoglow Brooder

Eggs pippingI was totally unprepared for our first hatch of the year, for a couple of reasons.  First, our 2011 chicks never seemed to even consider hopping out of their shells until day 22, which I now figure may be due to our hatching eggs being weakened when they were jostled around by the postal service.

Which is all a long way of saying --- I thought I had all day Friday to get the little indoor brooder ready for chicks so that I could be prepared for a hatch to begin Saturday afternoon.  The tupperware container was outside, wet and dirty, and the leaves I planned to use for bedding were still a bit damp.

Second, by this stage of the winter, I've gotten acclimated to mild cold.  Most of this past week, overnight temperatures only dropped into the forties, and I woke to a trailer around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  It hardly seemed worth lighting a fire since my morning walk with Lucy warmed my blood enough to tide me over until the sun came through the trees and heated the trailer to summer levels.  But chicks are less resilient (and our brooder is only rated down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit with bone dry chicks and bedding).

So our first chick of 2012 hatched into a household scurrying around to prepare his brooder.  I set Mark on cleaning out the brooder while I watched the tiny ball of fuzz push its way out of the shell.

Last year, I got into the habit of moving chicks out of the incubator nearly immediately rather than waiting until they dried off fully since I didn't like newly hatched chicks rolling the unhatched eggs around.  So, half an hour after hatch, I plucked out our hatchee and popped him under the Brinsea Ecoglow Brooder.

Chick under Brinsea brooderPeep, peep, peep.  The peeping got worse and worse until I was tearing out my hair.  I thrust the chick back into the incubator, lit a fire in the woodstove, and turned on a space heater, all at the same time.  (At least the chick didn't end up in the stove.)  Then, half an hour later, I tried Operation Chick Move again.

Peep, peep, peep.  Boy, that chick wasn't a happy camper, and neither was I.  With some trepidation, I set the brood box up on top of the space heater and ran to get Mark's input. 

Peep, peep, PEEP.  The chick was still yelling his head off, so Mark added another space heater to increase the temperature inside

Peep, peep, peep, peeeep.  Finally, peace and quiet!  Lesson learned --- homegrown eggs might pop open on day 20 and early spring chicks need some extra heat beyond the Brinsea brooder during the drying off period.  And here I thought I was such an old hand that there wouldn't be any drama during the hatching period.  Stay tuned to hear the stats on the rest of the hatch.

Our chicken waterer will keep our chicks healthy from day 1, as long as I don't freeze the poor things first.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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As your chicks grow, how many chicks is the ecoglow able to warm? We still use a light bulb though I like the safety level of the ecoglow. But even now with our current batch at 6wks old (and here in eastern NC where the weather is super mild) we are still using the light occasionally when it gets chilly. At their current size it looks like only 1 or 2 would fit under the ecoglow. Or is it more of a radiant heat for the entire brooder?
Comment by Krisann Sat Mar 3 08:11:17 2012

This one is rated for 20 chicks, but they make one for 50 (which is more expensive.) I haven't had any problem with chicks getting cold --- as they outgrow it, they also become better at regulating their internal temperature, so fewer of them need to be under it at the same time. That said, I may be tougher on my chickens than you are --- no way would I give them supplemental heat beyond week three when they're fully feathered. :-)

And I also haven't raised any in really cold weather yet. This batch will be pushing that boundary, and I'll be sure to let you know if they get cold.

Comment by anna Sat Mar 3 12:13:37 2012

I have no help to offer but childhood memories. I do remember our chicks peeping their heads off until they were dry. Thanks for bringing back those memories. It's much enjoyed (stuck in urban-land with a very old and small lot so no chickiees for me).


Comment by c. Sat Mar 3 13:28:09 2012
One of the things I like about this brooder instead of heat lamps is that the chickens seem to chirp a lot less. I can't stand the incessant peeping when they're unhappy! I do like their happy little chuckles, though. :-)
Comment by anna Sat Mar 3 15:18:48 2012

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