COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN
AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
AND UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
H. G. CLAYTON, Director
An Electric Chick Brooder
A. M. PETTIS
Farm Electrification Specialist, Agricultural Extension Service
J. CLYDE DRIGGERS
Associate Poultry Husbandman, Agricultural Experiment Station
A home-made electric chick brooder using an infra-red lamp
should help considerably in successfully caring for 100 baby
chicks under Florida weather conditions. Some electric and
Fig. 1.-During the first week the infra-red lamp should be suspended
18 inches above the litter and the chicks are confined inside a cardboard or
flame-type brooders use a hover but this is not necessary with
an infra-red heat lamp-the latest thing in electric heating.
As in other types of brooding, use a substantial house or
shelter to house the brooder, keep down wind and keep the chicks
dry. For successful brooding, provide ample house, feed and
water space and follow good management and sanitary practices.
THE BROODER AND ITS OPERATION
Materials needed to build an infra-red brooder for 100 chicks:
250 watt (W) pyrex infra-red heat lamp
Rubber-sheathed cable (No. 16 wire)
Board for adjusting height
Cardboard barrier or chick guard
Cost.-You can construct the brooder at a cost of about $5.00.
Heat Lamp.-There are two types of heat lamps-the pyrex
glass and the plain glass types. Use the 250 W pyrex lamp. It
costs more than the other type, but if water gets on it while it is
hot it will not break. The life of a heat lamp is about 5,000 hours.
Wiring.-Use a No. 16 rubber-sheathed cable. Plug it into an
outlet supplied by No. 12 wire. If you use more than one lamp,
be sure the wiring to the brooder house is large enough to carry
the current safely.
Socket.-Use a porcelain socket that will stand the high tem-
perature of the bulb. An ordinary brass type lamp socket will
Height Adjustment.-Bore holes at an angle in a small board
as shown in the photograph to adjust the height of the lamp.
Height of Lamp.-Place the heat lamp at the following heights
above the litter: 18" first week, 20" second week, 22" third week
and 24" rest of time needed.
Observe the action of the chicks to be sure the height is right.
Chicks that are too cold will hover together and those too hot
will move away from the lamp.
Temperature.-Do not use a thermometer under the heat
lamp, as it will not show infra-red heat accurately. Watch the
behavior of the chicks. You may turn off the lamp in the day-
time on warm days. As soon as the weather and feathering
permit (usually after five weeks) you may discontinue the lamp.
Brooder Capacity.-100 chicks with each heat lamp under
Cost of Operation.-The heat lamp described will use 6 kilo-
watt hours (KWH) of electricity every 24 hours, if burned con-
tinuously. After the first few days the lamp may be off part of
the day if the weather is warm. The cost of operation is slightly
more than the hover-type electric brooder. This is offset by the
low initial cost and other advantages.
Advantages of Infra-Red Brooding:
Low investment cost.
Simple to build and easy to operate.
Litter under brooder is dry.
Chicks are visible at all times.
Saving of labor and space. Brooders are light in weight and
easily moved and stored. They use little floor space, giving more
room for feeders, waterers, etc.
Red light from heat bulb tends to reduce cannibalism.
Disadvantages of Infra-Red Brooding:
Operation cost is higher than hover-type electric brooders.
If electricity fails there is no stored heat.
Fig. 2.-As the chicks grow older the heat lamp is raised and the
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Bulb could burn out at night and chicks might become chilled
(very unlikely, due to long life of bulb).
SUGGESTIONS ON BROODING CHICKS
Regardless of how good the brooder, it will not entirely replace
good housing, sanitation, chicks, feeding and management.
House and Equipment.-Before you buy the chicks, see that
the house is well ventilated, cleaned and disinfected to free it of
diseases, parasites, rodents and other vermin. Use good clean
litter, such as planer mill shavings, on the floor. This should be
at least two or three inches deep, and preferably six or seven
inches. To prevent the chicks from eating the litter when they
are first put in the house, cover it with wrapping paper or news-
paper. You can remove this after the chicks are about three
Make a chick guard about six feet in diameter of cardboard or
some similar material which will prevent drafts on the chicks
and will keep them from straying too far from the heat lamp.
You can remove this after about a week. Provide two 24-inch
feed hoppers for the first six weeks and more after that.
Provide two one-gallon fountains or their equivalent for the first
six weeks. During hot weather add more as needed.
Sanitation.-Be certain the house is clean before the chicks
arrive. If you use only two inches of litter on the floor, clean
the house thoroughly once a week. If you use six or more inches
of litter, stir it well once a week or more often as needed. Ob-
serve the birds carefully and treat for diseases as soon as they
Chicks.-Buy only high quality pullorum-clean chicks.
Feeding.-Sprinkle feed on the paper before placing the chicks
under the lamp so they will begin eating soon. Keep plenty of
a well balanced starting mash before them at all times. After
they are about six weeks of age, change the feed gradually to a
Management.-Observe the chicks at least four times a day-
early morning, noon, late afternoon and at night before bedtime.
If the chicks are comfortable they are usually quiet; if they are
not, they will tell you about it and you should take immediate
action to make them more comfortable. Chicks respond quickly
to excessive cold, heat, hunger or thirst by poor growth. They
also respond nearly as rapidly to good care and management by
fast growth, high livability and little disease.