Advice on using electric heat brooder lamps

Advice on using standard Electric Heat Brooder Lamps.

Most amateur and small scale breeders will find the use of standard electric heat lamps and bulbs the most reliable and economic way of brooding and rearing small to medium numbers of poultry and game birds during the first few weeks out of the incubator. As with all items of equipment we at Solway Feeders advise you to keep your setup as simple and uncluttered as possible.

Firstly you need the lamp which houses the bulb holder and cable to the 13amp plug.

Secondly you need the bulb, this is available in a number of wattages (power output) and light and heat style (infra red or ceramic dull emitter). Power out put is normally between 60 and 250 watts.    60 watts being low output for use in very small areas for a very small number of birds, 250 watts is  considered a large space heater and can be used to great effect in kennels and catteries. The most  popular and useful bulb is the 175 watt PAR38 with hardened glass lens, when used with a dimmer switch  this will give full 175watts and on dimmed will give approx 100watts giving a very good range  of heat output to cover most brooding situations.

 Installation and siting of the lamp.

The lamp must be hung from a suitable and strong point above the lamp in the centre of the area in which the chicks are to be brooded. Always use steel chain, never use string or nylon cord as this is flammable and may melt causing the lamp to fall with disastrous effects. The chain links will also   allow you to position the height of the lamp more accurately to within about 1cm. The height from the bulb face to the floor is generally between 60 & 120 cms .

Set up the brooder at least 48 hours before it is required. Decide on the temperature you require for the size & species of chick you are going to brood. This will  give the average temperature under the heat lamp, in the centre on the floor the temperature will be higher than the outer diameter of the lamp and the spread of heat in the circle below the lamp. The temperature will drop the further away you go from the centre of the lamp. To achieve the desired temperature set the lamp at 60cms above the floor, insert your bulb and connect to the mains and switch on. Allow the lamp to heat up for a couple of hours at least. Check the temperature directly below the lamp centre point, if this is higher than your desired brooding temperature raise the lamp on the hanging chain by 5 to 10cms. If the temperature is not high enough drop the lamp by 5 cms on the chain. Repeat this process until you are satisfied you have the correct temperature. Remember the central area will always be the hottest and the outer area will be cooler. Check over the next  24 hours that the temperature remains the same before you introduce your chicks. Once the chicks are settled under the brooder  continue to check the temperature on a regular basis and adjust as required. If the chicks appear to be huddled in the centre area it is an indication that they are not warm enough, if they appear to be on the outer edge this indicates that they are too warm.   

Always be aware that changes in temperature can occur at any time due to outside factors such as draughts, fall or rise in outside temperature, movement within the brooding area etc . Power failure or fluctuations in power may also raise or lower the temperature.

A question that is always asked is How long will a bulb last ?  Very difficult to say with any accuracy.    Some customers seem able to get many hundreds of hours out of 1 bulb others seem to struggle to get a few hundred. The cheaper thin glass bulbs do not last anywhere near as long as the PAR38 or Dull Emitter  type. If you live in a rural area, as we do, your power supply fluctuate up and down on a daily basis, causing premature failure of bulbs and equipment. We always fit  the lamp plug to        anti surge sockets similar to those you would find on computer or sensitive electronic gear.

ALWAYS HAVE A SPARE BULB READY, chicks will only survive for a short period without heat.

At the end of each brooding session always clean and disinfect your equipment ready for next time. Bio-Security is of utmost importance to healthy and successful rearing.

For further information and advice contact our sales or technical department;

 SOLWAY FEEDERS LTD    MAIN STREET  DUNDRENNAN  KIRKCUDBRIGHT  DG6 4QH

Tel.  01557 500253  Fax.  01557 500652    OR EMAIL  mail@solwayfeeders.co.uk