Circular 126 January 1955
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
500-Chick Infra-Red Brooder
A. M. PETTIS
Farm Electrification Specialist
Florida Agricultural Extension Service
J. C. DRIGGERS
Associate Poultry Husbandman
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Fig. 1.-Completed brooder, with center lamp removed to show thermostat.
Infra-red heat can be used to good advantage in brooding
chicks in Florida. A person interested in this modern method
of brooding but who has never used it can begin on a small scale
by using one heat lamp and 100 baby chicks or a unit of five
heat lamps for 500 chicks. The experience gained from such a
small operation will be valuable when it is desired to expand to
larger numbers of chicks and more brooders. Florida Extension
Circular 113, An Electric Chick Brooder, gives information on
using a heat lamp to brood 100 baby chicks.
Commercial infra-red brooders for 500 or more chicks may
be purchased or one can be constructed easily from the follow-
ing plans. This brooder will care for 500 chicks under Florida
Bill of Material
2 pieces Lumber 1" x 4" x 4' 8" long
5 Porcelain sockets (surface mounting type)
1 Electric thermostat (at least 750 watts capacity)
5 250W Infra-Red heat lamps (Pyrex type)
1 Metal junction box (for making connections)
12/2 electric cable to wire brooder
Baling wire, pulley, and rope for suspending brooder
Directions for Constructing Brooder.-Fasten 1" x 4" boards
at right angles to each other crossing at the centers. Use wood
screws or machine screws to mount porcelain sockets at each
end of boards and in the center. Electric thermostat is mounted
as shown in Fig. 1, about 3 inches from the socket near the
center of brooder. Junction box is mounted at any convenient
location near thermostat to facilitate wiring of the brooder.
All splices are made in this junction box. Wire brooder as shown
in Fig. 2. The thermostat controls the center lamp and two
others as shown. Heat rising from the center infra-red lamp
operates the thermostat. Two lamps remain on continuously
unless it is desired to turn them off by hand. Pyrex-type lamps
are recommended; if water strikes them while hot they will
not be damaged.
Operation.-For the first week, place brooder with heat lamps
16 to 18 inches from the litter, depending on weather conditions.
During cold, windy periods, it might be necessary to lower the
brooder to where bottoms of the heat lamps are 10 to 12 inches
from the litter. Observe the action of the chicks in adjusting
height. If chicks are huddled and appear cold, the brooder is
probably too high. If chicks avoid heat of lamp (more likely
in the daytime) brooder is probably too low.
CAUTION! Never lower heat lamps closer than 10 inches
to litter; to do so might cause a fire. After the first week, raise
the brooder approximately 2 inches per week until the height
is 24 inches. Do not use a thermometer with this brooder.
Thermometers do not measure infra-red heat accurately and it
is better to observe the action of the chicks to learn whether
they are comfortable.
Thermostat.-Adjust the thermostat so the heat lamps con-
trolled by it will be off approximately one-half the time. On
warm days these lamps will remain off almost continuously while
during cool weather they will remain on most of the time. Ad-
just the thermostat until the proper setting is found. This
thermostat will pay for itself in a short time by saving electricity.
Wiring.-A brooder constructed by these plans uses 1,250
watts of electricity when all lamps are on. The size wire needed
to the brooder house depends on the total electric load and the
distance from the meter. Be certain the wiring to the brooder
house and in the brooder house is adequate.
Advantages of Infra-Red Brooding.-
1. Low initial cost, easy-to-build brooders.
2. Simple to operate.
3. Chicks visible at all times.
4. Dry litter under brooder.
5. Less cannibalism (reported by poultrymen).
6. Equipment has long life, uses little space, and is easy
7. Lower mortality (reported by poultrymen).
Disadvantages of Infra-Red Brooding.-
1. No stored heat if power fails.
2. Uses more electricity than hover-type electric brooder.
Brooding Hints.-It is desirable to use a cardboard or a paper-
covered wire barrier 16 to 18 inches high and 8 to 10 feet in
diameter around the 500 chicks under this brooder during the
first week. This will help reduce drafts in the brooder house
JUNCTION BOX JUNCTION
I. HOT WIRE -TO THERMO., \ BOX
2. HOT WIRE FROM THERMO
TO LAMPS -5,2,4
3. NEUTRAL 3. 2
TO LAMPS-1,2, \ "
3, 4, 5
POWER 115 V
SOURCE HOT WIRE
USE (12/2 ROMEX CABLE)
Fig. 2.-Wiring diagram, showing brc
o/ \\ /< THERMOSTAT
TO LAMP I
PS 5aM no2
3 ^ LAMP-3 -^ LAMP-2
right and details of junction box on left.
and help prevent the chicks from straying and getting chilled.
The guard may be removed after one week.
The number of chicks per brooder should be limited to 500
for best results. Multiples of 500 up to 10,000 chicks can be
brooded in one house, provided there are sufficient brooders.
When large numbers are to be brooded, precautions should be
taken to see that the wiring facilities are adequate to carry the
One-half square foot per chick should be provided in the house
for the first six weeks. Overcrowding is conducive to disease
At least a 20% protein chick-starting mash or its equivalent
should be kept before the chicks at all times during the brood-
ing period. One linear inch of feed hopper space and one-half
linear inch of water space per chick are adequate for the first
Fig. 3.-Obviously the chicks are comfortable under this brooder.
The importance of securing high quality, pullorum-clean chicks
which have been bred for the purpose intended cannot be stressed
too strongly. Even though the brooding and management might
be ideal, in the long run, poultry profits cannot be had through