My Christmas 2012 Hatching has begun…Eleven last week, seven this past weekend, three more hatches scheduled…All small numbers, probably no more than half a dozen at a time…I decided to be very judicous with my hatching this year, but it is so-o-o hard to keep this addiction in check!

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about is lighting/heating for the brooder. I have, in the past, only used red infrared heat bulbs on dimmer switches, to regulate the temperatures. I am currently using Sterlite plastic boxes, the 105 quart size. It has worked well for me, no matter what the size of the brooder box, but it did have a couple of negative points…For one thing, having three of these bulbs next to me by my computer, on 24/7, in front of the sliding glass doors, made passer-bys think my house was either on fire, or I was celebrating Christmas year-round. For another thing, I was disturbed at the thought that the chicks never had any “down” time, and this made it difficult when it came time to do away with the heat lamps altogether…They were petrified at going to sleep in the dark, even though I had devised a make-shift system of shutting off three different lights every night to get them used to “nighttime”. So, this year I decided to try something new, and I’m sharing it with you, just so you can avoid making the mistakes I did!

I kept my lighting system the same for Week #1 for the babies, but decided to try some new bulbs for the remaining time, using some ceramic infrared heat emitters My theory was that the chicks would be getting the heat they needed, but not the constant light, so they’d be used to sleeping in the dark (or near-darkness, at any rate). They come in several wattages, so I went with 150 watts, thinking I could always use my dimmer switches in conjunction with my adjustable light stands. Sounds like a plan, right? Well, it didn’t work out as well as I had hoped…

I started with just the bulb in the lamp, and the lamp got very, very hot…Okay, obviously I didn’t need that strong a bulb, but there was another problem…the new bulb was quite a bit shorter than the regular heat bulbs, so the trapped heat was too close to the lampshade.

lightbulb 2

lightbulb 1

Fortunately, I had one of the metal, porcelian socket units, so I substituted that and connected it to the light stand. That worked much better, but the temperature quickly soared to 108 degrees! Okay, time for the dimmer switch…the temperature went down, and down, and down…Hmmmm, maybe the dimmer switch is broken, or maybe the bulb is not working…I remove the dimmer, and the temps go back up…I try another dimmer switch…No luck…Apparently, these lights do not work with dimmers (hard to understand why not)! So, my light stand is now at it’s highest allowable height, and the temperature is still too high! So, it’s back to square one using my original setup, until I can order some lower-wattage emitters. Arghh, the best laid plans of mice and men!

Morale of the story is that these emitters definitely to be on adjustable stands, and 150 watts is too hot for baby chicks in an indoor, heated environment! I’ll post another review after I’ve worked all the kinks out…