Why do we need another chicken blog or forum?

Many chicken forums are moderated to sell commercial feed, chemicals and ideology.
I prefer to find my own balance between nature, welfare and cost in raising happy chickens.

Monday, September 26, 2011

ceramic bulb in the tub brooder... not!

Three of the ancona x bubs are out of their shells and bouncing around in the incubator. That leaves, um, 57 or so to go... I'm not counting them before they've hatched this time around, as temperatures were a little unsteady. I'm expected quite a draggy hatch.

It was a slightly annoying day, despite the emergence of chicks. Usually I settle hatchlings in an infra-red-lit tub for 2 days before putting them into the cold brooder. This gives them a little head-start and allows me to make sure they're all eating and drinking before the challenge of learning to use an unheated 'igloo'.

However the infra red light has its drawbacks, not least being the fact that it is a light and not just a heater. Since cold brooded chicks have to learn to go inside a dark space to get warm, a heat lamp confuses the issue.

Today I went to the pet shop and paid $53 for a 60w ceramic heat bulb. Now since the infra red lamp provides sufficient heat at 40w for my small tub brooder, I felt a 60w ceramic bulb that gives out only heat (rather than heat and light) should be perfectly adequate. Wrong! The damn thing gives out barely any heat at all. That is, the bulb itself gets terribly hot, but not only does it not heat the brooder air, but it doesn't heat the brooder litter or floor or walls higher than about 25C when suspended at a safe height. This is despite having a reflective shield above the globe aiming to direct the heat down.

How disappointing! Clearly the infra red bulbs give much more heat on a per-wattage basis.

Perhaps the ceramic bulb will be useful when teaching chicks to use the cold brooder, as if I hang it over the wire mesh on top of the little igloo the chicks should feel the warmth and go inside through the doorway when chilly. This will help retrain them out of going toward the light when they're feeling cool. I wouldn't want to leave the ceramic bulb switched on for any length of time though, because a straw-stuffed 'igloo' full of chicks could easily overheat.

So not a great purchase, but perhaps not a useless one...

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