Raising baby chicks is fun for the old and the young alike. Watching baby chicks grow into full-fledged chickens can teach so many life lessons to young children. But before you pick up a few baby chicks at the local feed store, there is one thing you need to have first. This item is THE single most important thing you can buy to ensure you are raising baby chicks safely.
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Don’t make the mistake so many people make! Don’t use a heat lamp! Why? They are a major fire hazard. But what should you use instead? I recommend the EcoGlow brooder. Let me explain why an EcoGlow is worth the investment.
Why You Should Use a Radiant Brooder
While a heat lamp is the usual way to brood chicks, unfortunately they just aren’t safe. Anytime you mix flying animals, pine shavings, and a heat source, you are asking for trouble. Many people have lost their baby chicks, their coops, and even their entire flocks because of a heat lamp. We even know of one family that lost their entire home to a heat lamp fire.
While I don’t want to scare you, I am also big on safety. An EcoGlow brooder will run you less than $100 (for the small one that holds 20 chicks). They use far less electricity (only 18 watts) compared to a heat lamp (250 watts), so you will likely save a good bit of money on your power bill.
The first two years we raised chicks, I used a heat lamp. But it’s only because I didn’t know radiant heaters existed. Once I discovered them, there was no turning back. I’ve had mine for over 5 years now and it still works great. I won’t ever use a heat lamp again.
How a Radiant Brooder Works
The EcoGlow brooder uses radiant heat instead of a heat lamp to warm your baby chicks. Radiant heat warms objects, not air. The chicks can run under the heater to get warm and then run back out when they are toasty. The brooder is adjustable, with three different heights, so as the chicks get bigger, you can raise the heating element.
Benefits of a Radiant Brooder
The first benefit is safety and peace of mind, but I’ve already told you that.
Another benefit to using a radiant brooder is that it is much more like a mama hen than a heat lamp. With a heat lamp you are constantly having to monitor the temperature and make adjustments to the height of the lamp each week. If you aren’t careful, you can fry your chicks if it gets too hot. The two years we used a heat lamp, it was very aggravating to adjust the heat lamp every few days and monitor the temperature of the brooder.
A third benefit to using a radiant brooder is that the baby chicks experience day and night. When the chicks are constantly under a bright heat lamp, they don’t realize when it is nighttime. While I don’t know of any studies that have been done on this, I can’t imagine that being under bright lights 24/7 is good for the chicks.
And if you are raising baby chicks indoors, you will quickly realize that they can be loud too. If they are near your bedroom don’t expect much sleep if you are using a heat lamp. However, under a radiant brooder, when it gets dark, they will go under the brooder and go sleep. (And remain quiet all night!)
A Radiant Brooder Helps Chicks Feather Out Sooner
I have noticed that by using a radiant brooder, my chicks feather out quicker. Why is this a good thing? Because chickens are MESSY. If you are raising baby chicks indoors or even in a garage, they will scratch in the pine shavings and send dust everywhere. And I do mean EVERYWHERE.
They knock over their water, spill their feed, and just generally make a mess. If they feather out faster, they can go outdoors faster, which means less clean up for you! (If you want to know when you can move your chicks outdoors, check out this article.)
You will notice that the first few days, the chicks will spend most of their time under the brooder, only coming out to eat and drink. But gradually they will spend less and less time underneath it. Oftentimes, after about two weeks, I find that my baby chicks would actually sleep on top of the brooder.
Downsides to a Radiant Brooder
The biggest downside to a radiant brooder (other than the cost) is that you must raise your baby chicks in an area that stays above 55 degrees. If you are brooding your chicks indoors, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you are raising them in the winter in an unheated garage, this can be an issue. We have worked around this by placing an oil-filled radiator heater (an older version of this one) just outside the brooder to maintain a warm area.
So while there are many things you need to raise baby chicks safely, the most important thing is a radiant brooder.
What is your piece of mind worth? Is is worth purchasing an EcoGlow brooder?
More Information on Raising Baby Chicks
For more information on raising baby chicks, check out the following posts:
How to Set up Your Brooder for Baby Chicks-This post details how to have everything ready for your baby chicks BEFORE you bring them home.
Baby Chick Care-This post will tell you all the ins and outs of caring for those baby chicks the first few weeks.
Building a Chicken Coop-If you still need to build a coop for your chickens, this post will tell you what you need to include when building it.
Moving Chicks to the Coop-There are lots of things to consider before you move your chicks outdoors. From the outside temperature to the feathers on your chicks, this post will help you make that decision.