Those of you who follow the Heedley’s Hens Facebook page will know that I was very, very worried about my chooks last night. We’re in the midst of a pretty serious cold snap here, and it’s a bad weekend to be brooding very small chicks in an unheated building.
No matter what I did yesterday, I just could not get the heat up in the brooder. We had serious wind all day, and, even with the pop door and exterior coop door closed, it just sucked out any accumulated heat. The brooder temperature (taken at the edge of the heat lamp perimeter) was in the 60s all day.
And then, at sundown, the brooder temperature began to drop.
By the time I was preparing for bed, it was 58, and I was very nervous. Yes, they had the Brinsea, but it’s not intended for outdoor use, and not effective under 50 degrees. I wrapped the brooder crate in two more layers of flannel sheets, brought the thermometer base to my bedside, said a prayer and did my best to sleep.
At 3am, the readout read 55. I debated whether or not action was advisable, but, really…what could I do? If I went down to check on them, I’d only wake them, and they’d come out from under the toasty Brinsea. I thought I’d do more harm than good.
At 6am, brooder temp was still 55. The sun was up, so there was actually something I could do. I woke the big girls (quite rudely, actually), rushed them off the roosts and out of the coop. Once the brooder was unwrapped, I made a decision. The ceramic heat lamp has been sitting on top of the crate. I was comfortable with this for fire safety reasons, but lowering it was the only recourse I could see, short of a) loading up the brooder with a fourth electric appliance, or b) bringing the chicks into the house.
The ceramic heat lamp is now hanging from the ceiling of the crate, a good ten inches closer to the girls than it was last night. The wind has subsided today, and, although it’s still brisk today, the brooder is now up to a sanity-restoring 78F. The temp is to drop below freezing again tonight, but I think I’ll be able to keep the brooder in the 60s.
And how were the chooks this morning, you might ask, when their brooder was an inconceivable 55? According to all the laws of chicken husbandry, they should have a constant temperature of 90 degrees this week. What did I find?
I found six very sleepy little girls, packed tightly under the Brinsea, happy, healthy, and completely perplexed as to why they were being awakened at such an ungodly hour.
Those Brinsea people are really onto something.