Wednesday, February 26, 2014

NEW Baby Chicks and a Review: Premier Heating Plate

After a month and a half of waiting since my flock was devastated, we finally brought home our new babies!

Our chick orders usually sustain a 3-day trip, and on the morning of Day 2 I received the usual phone call from the Duluth Post Office letting me know that they had arrived safely and would be heading my way the next day. Duluth is 2.5 hours away, and with one running vehicle at the time there was no way I would be able to go get them a day early, even with the impending snow storm predicted to drop 18 inches or more on us. To say the least, I was terrified that the mail truck would be delayed, especially since the storm would be coming during the night. But by sheer luck and a little persistence, I advertised on a local Sell & Swap online asking if any locals were planning on going to or coming from Duluth that day. A sweet local girl messaged me letting me know that she was coming home from Duluth that morning. And after a little bit of arrangement, I received my babies at about 2:00 in the afternoon! Such a blessing! All were alive and most in robust shape- incredible for February in Minnesota!

Red Shoulder Yokohama cockerel.

I'm still sorting through the chicks, figuring out what I was actually sent. I received 45 chicks, 1 died after a couple of days (from what appeared to have been the result of being piled on top of by the other chicks). I'm not seeing a White Sultan, White Cochin, or White Frizzle so far- but sometimes chicks can be hard to tell apart. So I will wait and see. Most of them I've figured out.

Light Brahma pullet.

It is so fun and exciting to see all of the variety. So many different colors and combinations, sizes and personalities. I'm loving the Blue Antwerp Belgians with their big eyes and the Salmon Faverolles with their fluffy, well, everything- and their extra toe like the Silkies. I have a Red Shoulder Yokohama cockerel and two pullets and it's fun to see how the little trio likes to hang out together.

Black Sumatra pullets.

One of these two little Black Sumatras is the most brave of all, curious and almost aggressive. When I put my hand in the box, she charges right up to me and hops in my hand, looking at me like "Just who do you think you are?!" Makes me smile- my entire life I've always wanted a Sumatra. I've ordered them several times in the past- always just one- and they have always died. So this time I ordered two- and both survived. Very excited!

I'm hoping to photograph each of the chicks individually- but that has already proven to be a task. Just when I get done with about half, I already forget which are which. But hopefully I can get most of them.

Product Review: Premier Heating Plate

For those who were wondering about the Premier Heating Plate (similar to the Brinsea EcoGlow brooder), I thought I'd offer up a quick review.  
{Note: this is NOT an affiliate link nor sponsored by Premier1Supplies, just a personal product review.}

If you recall, this was a quick and last-minute decision before my chicks arrived. I'm keeping my chicks in our basement which is more of a crawl space since it has a pretty low ceiling. And so I was worried about safely using a heat lamp, especially when it came time to raise up the lamp with limited ceiling above the brooder box. 

After a week of using the Premier Heating Plate, here is what I've learned so far:
  • - Initially, I hung a heat lamp and also plugged in the heat plate. When you receive almost 50 baby chicks who have had a stressful couple of days of travel, the most important thing is getting them out of the box and introduced to food and water. Trying to accomplish that with babies crying (and my eardrums vibrating as the echoes from their cries bounce off the basement walls- trust me, it was intense) and keep an eye on them as you do was difficult enough without having to worry about whether they were warm or not. So the heat lamp offered warmth to the brooder box while they had the opportunity to learn to drink and eat.
  • - My second reason for offering the heat lamp at first was so I could watch their condition. I worried that if I stuck them all under the heat plate, I might not see a weak one who was struggling and needed a little extra TLC. 
  • - There was one chick in particular who, when I pulled her from the shipping box, felt cold and listless. In the past, this was the chick who would almost certainly die. I gave her some water (which she barely drank), and put her under the heat plate, hoping that the nice close heat would help her through. After a couple of hours (and many peeks at her in between), she was perfectly normal. I really attribute the effectiveness of the heat plate to her survival. Had she been simply stuck under the heat lamp where she would have been trampled by the others and likely pushed out of the way, I don't believe her fate would have been the same.
  • - I adjusted the heat plate so that one end of the plate was slightly higher than the other. There are a couple of reasons for this: (1) I have both bantams and standard chicks, some of them differing greatly in size. So some need more space under the heat plate than others, and (2) some require more heat than others. Having the differing in adjustment allows some to escape the more intense, close heat while others prefer to snuggle more closely to it.
  • - When bedtime came that night and I knew that all of the chicks were doing well, it was time to remove the heat lamp. I replaced the heat bulb with a 60-watt energy saver bulb and moved the heat plate into the middle of the brooder box, right under the light. That way, they were able to associate the heat plate with the warmth of the heat lamp and crawled right under it. A few needed some help figuring it out, but once they did they all snuggled in for the night. When I checked on them at 1:30 in the morning, I was a little worried- not a chick was in sight and no sounds to be heard. But when I peeked under the heat plate and saw them all sleeping peacefully, all worries were alleviated. The following morning, I was able to move the heat plate back to the side of the brooder box and they've never questioned since where to go to get warm.
  • - One thing that has been really noticeable to me is how much more calm these chicks are when it comes to sticking my hand in the brooder box. In the past, they would scatter everywhere. I think they have the security of the heat plate as they would with a broody mama hen, and are able to come out or retreat at will.
  • - It is suggested that you raise the heat plate every week as you would a heat lamp. But just like you do with the heat lamp, watch your chicks and they will tell you what they need. I was noticing yesterday (at nearly a week of age) that they were spending much more time out from under the heat plate, and much of the time they would only lay halfway underneath it. It was time to raise it up a notch.
  • - Chicks will perch on top of the heat plate. They do sell a cover  that goes over the top- but I figured you're going to have to wash whatever it is they sit on (whether it be the top of the heat plate itself or its cover) so why spend the money?
My conclusion: the large heat plate which is for up to 50 chicks runs on just 62 watts (the smaller is for up to 20 chicks and uses just 22 watts), which is 1/4 of a 250 watt heat bulb. The energy savings alone had me sold. Add on top of that being able to rest easy knowing you don't have to worry about heat lamp fire and that the chicks are in a more natural broody-type setting sealed the deal for me. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who plans to raise baby chicks more than once. Like I told my husband "Let's face the facts: I'm going to be raising baby chicks the rest of my life. It'll pay for itself". 

And already, I feel that it has :)


  1. OMG, Erin, they are adorable! I love the variety and I can't wait to see what they all turn out to look like. I would have been panicking to get them from the post office. I'm glad that you found someone to help out. They're all so cute!! I love the review of the Premier Heating Plate, too. Great job!

  2. What darling babies! And thanks for the plate review. We cannot have hens where we live, but someday I truly hope to have my own little flock. :)

  3. Interesting about the heat plate, here in the desert its never very cold so a heat light works great. Looks like a fun variety cant wait to see pics ;)

  4. The heat plate sounds awesome! Thank you for the review. I've decided that next time we get baby chicks we need one of these heaters. I really don't want to use heat lamps again!

    Your chicks are too cute! I'm so happy for you :)