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TBN Ranch is a private hobby farm nestled in the foothills of a five hundred acre mountain range in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desert.

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Controlling Temperature in the Brooder

Understanding Behavior, Traditional Heat Lamps, and the Radiant Heat Alternative

amy elizabeth

One of the biggest concerns most people have is keeping the brooder at the proper temperature. You’ve probably read the norm… 95 degrees the first week, then lower the temperature by 5 degrees each week until the chicks are fully feathered. That’s the rule of thumb, and one I have always been faithful to. However…

I know heat lamps are a royal pain when trying to achieve a specific and consistent temperature. And radiant heat from today’s brooders probably have you wondering if they offer enough heat.  That’s why this season I decided to experiment, pitched the heat lamp and put my trust solely in radiant heat on my newly hatched chicks.

Yes, it seemed too cold in the brooder at night, certainly wasn’t 95, and that made me nervous. But I had a feeling radiant heat would prove better if I just stuck with it. Radiant heat seemed more natural, more like a mother hen, and that just had to be better than a clunky bright heat lamp dangling over their head.

Is Radiant Heat Better?

At one week old: The temperature in the brooder was 65, and the chicks weren’t huddled together trying to stay warm. They were playing, eating, and on and off congregating under the radiant heat brooder. No fuss, no worries, and no pasty butts, which is a common problem of chicks under stress during their first week of life.

I think chicks can take the cold a lot better than we think. I’ve seen hens take their chicks outside in 30 degree temperatures with no problem. So why do we need to stress over the perfect 95 degree law in the brooder? We don’t, plain and simple.

Here’s my Silkie Bantam chicks in perfect condition, raised using radiant heat in temperatures 25-30 degrees below the the recommended 95 degrees the first week. They’re five weeks old now and happy as can be.

The trick is to watch your chicks, they will tell you if they are uncomfortable. Too hot and they will be scattered far from the heat source. Too cold and they will huddle together in a corner for warmth.  It doesn’t matter what the temperature is or where you live, baby chicks all communicate the same.

Note: If I thought radiant heat wasn’t enough during very cold spells, I would use a heat lamp near the brooder rather than right over them. This will help warm the air around the brooder box just enough to still encourage use of the radiant heat brooder within.

It’s all about behavior… watch and they will teach you how much heat they need. It’s just amazing to watch those fuzzy butts, they’re a wealth of information…  watch them, and you’ll see for yourself!

Silke Bantams 10-30-14

Posted in Chicken Pics, Chicken, Managing the Flock | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rescued from the Unthinkable

Meet the newest member of our family. This precious 14 year old toy poodle was brought to a veterinarian to be euthanized… for being old and having a too pricey dental bill. 

Lucky for this little guy, the veterinarian refused to put a healthy animal down and asked the owners to surrender the dog to the clinic.  This awesome doctor did a dental with extractions, blood work, vaccinations, and had him groomed. She then called the owners offering him back, with a clean bill of health, and a makeover. They refused, and still surrendered their family member of 14 years.

We could be angry, or, be grateful that these pet owners chose to surrender the dog rather than just dropping him off at the humane society. Sometimes we hear stories like these and can’t help ourselves from losing faith in people as pet owners. Fortunately, I’m pretty sure it’s no coincidence that almost simultaneously we find those with kindness and compassion in greater numbers.

Many thanks to the pet hospital that was not only willing to put in the time, effort, expense, and added responsibilities of fostering this little guy… but for giving him the right to enjoy his gift of life to the fullest.

Welcome home new friend, for whatever time you have left, you can count on our love and every comfort you deserve.


Posted in All The Ranch Animals, Companion Animals | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

A Nest All Her Own

This is Rose, she’s the only hen of the black Silkies that isn’t broody right now. She was laying that egg while I photographed her this morning. For a change, she had first pic of any nest she wanted, all the others were on their own mission…

The rest of the ladies are busy sitting on NOTHING. Regardless, they’ll stay put for the next three weeks as if they had fertile eggs under them… just because that’s what Silkies do!  They’re dedicated to mothering no matter what, even if it’s just pretend.


Posted in Chicken Pics, Chicken Yard News | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments