When winter comes, I try to stock up on some HotHands brand body warmer heat packs. Other brands will work fine too but this brand is reasonably economical and heats up quickly. They do not last very long though and you will need 2-3 per day depending on the use. Walmart often has a 3 pack size of the body warmers for about $2.
These heat packs come in especially handy for chicks or sick button quail.
The body warmer size heat packs put out enough heat for chicks for approximately 8 hours. While they can “last for up to 18 hours” this does not mean they put out full heat for that time. Slip one or a couple (depending on how many chicks you have) in an old sock or glove and then make sure the chicks can get out from under it easily. If they cannot, you may need to prop it up or bury it in shavings part way (they will still snuggle up against it).
There are a few times heat packs can be extremely useful for chicks.
- Your heat lamp bulb burns out and you are unable to get another one right away.
- Along the same lines, you want to keep chicks separate from different parents and realize you don’t have enough lamps to go around (This was me so I’ll have a few more on hand next time).
- You need to travel with chicks or are giving chicks to someone who will need to keep them warm on the ride home
Sick birds are unable to fight off an illness or digest food if they cannot regulate their body temperature. A heat pack helps greatly when a heat lamp is impractical. I often bury one half way in the shavings and put the bird in another room away from my other birds. Usually within a couple of days with medicine, warmth, quite and food, the bird will start to heal and get better.