John’s Garden Chicks blog
Road testing the Titan electric hen brooder
We are having a cold snap, and my office has come alive to the sound of little cheeps. It is too cold in the shed for some three–week-old crested cream legbar and barnevelder chicks. Warm thanks to Leah at Leah’s Chook Shed from Hornsby and Conrad of Animal Ark pet transport, who goes everywhere, both good people to deal with.
I have my old wicker fishing creel as the back up holding pen, which sits by the fire when I work on refining a new 120 litre storage crate into a better brooder box.
The chicks are heated by a Titan electric hover hen with its infra-red low wattage heater on stilts.
The heat mat is like the mat used in vivariums for lizards, except it is above, and it is working as claimed.
I apparently forgot how messy cheeps can be, and how quickly they grow and learn to fly … but it is all coming back. And I have to say that eventually I am enjoying it a lot.
I have had them on paper towels over puppy pads, while I sort out food and drink.
The chicks’ instincts are amazing, they have all tried to rake out the food from the feeder so they can scratch and peck. Then when the scratch got low they just hated putting their heads in the hole, which they could do, and instead forlornly sorted through the diminishing scraps on the floor.
But after some time unlearning and relearning they are now back to putting their heads down inside the feeding holes.
Likewise the water was wildly splashed and spilt from my little Avione style waterer, so I have encouraged them to transfer to an inverted bottle with a nipple drinker all held together in a pushbike bottle-carrier frame. It has taken them a couple of days, some were confused until I attached a little bowl underneath to collect the excess water, which focused everyone.
So this week I put them back onto chopped hemp and diatomaceous earth (DE). The difference the hemp made to my office smell is fantastic.
Back to the Titan Hover Hen 300 x 300mm with the adjustable legs, which rises up to 200 mm and only uses 20 watts. It suits 1 to 20 chicks (not sure if I would want to be chick number 20)
It works well for me. The chicks are happy and growing. The larger size apparently handles 50 so it means I can picture someone using a fleet of these (low power use, and unlike a heat lamp no fire risk) to replace one of those industrial multi-level vertical brooders. The price is OK. The plug is Australian whether you buy from UK for Australian delivery or from City Chics. I am happy I bought it.
Reading the temperature is a bit of an issue. Observation is a difficult as, unlike a heat lamp, my brooder box/crate coupled with the electric hen design makes it nearly impossible to see what is happening under the Titan hover hen. I cannot observe the chickens and so judge the temperature. In the end, the behavior of the chickens is still the best guide to correct temperature.
You can always put your hand underneath to check that it is working, and this does not burn you, as it is not too hot.
Plan B is to have a mirror on a stick to check if they are huddling. Or maybe even to silicone in a clear plastic porthole on the storage crate wall so I can visually check.
I have a vivarium thermometer on the brooder floor but it reads low as the infra-red heater warms bodies more than the surrounds. In the middle of the night, when all is quiet, I can only reassure myself by using a digital infra-red thermometer and aiming it by its laser light under the hover hen and towards the chicks.
But even a little LED on top of the electric hen would show the power is on to relax a worrier.
The chickens like wandering and running around under it and now that they fly better, they spend a bit on time on top of it.
Rating 0 stars up to 5 stars
***** for power conservation
***** efficiency/utility for the chickens
***** for fire safety
** for convenience, in reading the temperature, compared to a heat lamp.
Needs to have viewing method into the brooder organized, or a digital infra-red thermometer, an LED ‘on’ light to show it is on, or all three.