March 26, 2012

The Brooder First

The chicks were ordered from My Pet Chicken ! They should be delivered around June 25th. It would be nice to have the coop finished by then. Even though they won't get to play in it till they are about 5 - 6 weeks old. What I need ready now is the brooder! Because the brooder is so simple to put together it will get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list.  We will spend several weekends working on the coop; making it extra safe and comfy for the ladies and aesthetically pleasing for the neighbors (lots of photos of work in progress). Two days before chicks are to be delivered we will remember the brooder-at-the bottom of the list...Aaacck!!!! Good thing it's so simple…

Bin, chick starter feed, water and food containers, thermometer, bedding. Um, those rain boots and that hat are optional!
The brooder is where your chicks will spend most of their time for the first few weeks.  It's critical that it meets all the needs of newly hatched chicks! 
When setting up brooder:

  • The brooder needs to be in a safe and secure area - out of reach of predators/house pets, etc.
  • Keep it in a place where the consistent temps can be maintained. Sudden changes in temperatures can stress chicks severely and even be life threatening.
  •  You will need a source of heat for the chicks. If you use a heat lamp it needs to be set up in a way that the chicks cannot get near it!
  •  The heat source also needs to be adjustable or have some type of clamp that will allow it to be moved as needed.
  •  The bottom of the brooder can be line with a towel, or a type of cushioned shelf liner. Newspaper is not recommended because it is slick and does not offer any traction for the chicks, it's a major cause of splayed legs in young chicks.
  •  The type bedding used is very important. There are many different types of small-animal bedding available at pet and feed stores. Pine shavings are the best. There are also mixes of wood shavings and shredded compressed newspaper. Read the label and make sure there are no additives to cut down on odor. Do Not Use Cedar Shavings under any circumstances! The aromatic oils in cedar will cause the  chicks serious respiratory problems!
  •  For the chicks water use a shallow bowl filled with water. As a precaution add clean stones or marbles to keep the chicks from falling in and drowning. By the end of the 2nd week though this precaution will not be needed (they do grow fast).  As they get older and bigger you can use use a regular water container.
  • A feed container with 6- 8 openings, similar to the one below, will help keep the food cleaner. Putting feed in an open bowl is not recommended because chicks are non-stop circus act and the bowl will get flipped over, and, well pooped in. Chicks make big messes!
  •  A poultry thermometer specifically marked for the temps the brooder should be kept at each week is invaluable. They can be found at feed stores. 
Basic Aquarium Used As Brooder

There are so many different choices and ideas for D.I.Y  brooders! Go online and search,  borrow books or magazines from other chicken keeping friends, go to the library. D.I.Y. ideas are everywhere!

No matter what you end up using as a brooder it will nee need to be cleaned a lot! Keep this in mind when you are setting it up!



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