I will definitely use the ceramic lamp as the main heat source, but if my little experiment works out I may use the mat as an optional extra or as you say, a back up if something happens to the lamp. I do have spare infra red bulbs here too. We've had a power cut once before when engineers were working on our line, and I used a microwavable heat pad to put under my Beardie. The give out heat for a few hours, I could get another one just in case, but we do have a big log burner in the living room we could all sit around if needs be.
Thanks for the tip about the juvenile moult, I'll definitely keep this in mind! The carport does lead out onto grass, so I could set up a secure run there for them to get used to being outside before putting them in the field on their own.
At what age can you start giving them treats like corn? And when should I start giving them grass clippings? And another question I posted earlier, when should I start giving them boosters like apple cider and extra vitamins?
Healthy chicks do not need any supplements, everything they need will be in their chick crumb if this is well within date and a good brand. They grow so fast in the early weeks that its best to support this by only feeding the crumb, as otherwise you risk unbalancing their diet. The only additive that might be useful in winter is cod liver oil, in very small quantities, to ensure they get enough Vit D, but anything else is likely to be a waste of money and more for the owner's feel-good factor than their benefit, in my opinion anyway. I know many people add ACV to their water, but lots of keepers feel this is not only unnecessary but can reduce the amount they drink because they don't really like it, so as the proper stuff is expensive you could give that a miss too. If you do use it, get the unrefined stuff from an agricultural merchant, not the poncey kind you can buy in Waitrose, which is less potent. My hens remain boringly healthy for years on end with no supplements, except perhaps some mineral powder as a boost when they're approaching the end of their lay and the eggshells are getting a bit thin.
If you want to give mixed corn as a treat, they can have this in very small quantities (again, so they don't fill up on this and not get enough protein because its displacing the protein- rich chick crumb.) maybe a teaspoonful each per day, just to get them to come to you and eat from your hand, and to associate the rattle of the box with food, useful training for walkies outside, in time. They'll also need chick grit if they're getting corn, to aid digestion. Normal chicken grit is too big for them at first. Avoid grass clippings, they may cause impacted crops, and at this time of the year the grass is very low in protein and nutrients. When the new grass comes in Spring, its high in nutrients and tender, ideal for little chicks making their first forays in the sunshine. By then, yours will be hulking great girls who'll also benefit from it of course, with e grazing you can offer.
Thank you for your advice on supplementing! That will save me some pounds!
We've just been visiting my husbands parents, his father breeds and shows canaries, so he was able to give some advice on how we could use our shed that's near the house to house them before they go into their field if we needed to.. so still keeping options open at the minute, but they will definitely be going in our conservatory for first few weeks. Electric fence arrived today! Will be getting an appropriate thermometer next, and my lamp is arriving tuesday, so will let you know what the temps are for my brooder area!
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