Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Got CHICKS? Brooder Set-up the EASY WAY!

When I lived in Illinois, I was able to get advice on an inexpensive brooder system from a farmer's wife. Being born and raised in the city, I had no clue as to the ins and outs of chicken care, and Donna, who had been born into a farming family, was no stranger to anything farm-related. She took me under her wing, so to speak, and taught me a few things about poultry and brooder boxes for new chicks. I will share that with you today.

Before you bring your new chicks home from the post office or the feed store, you should have a few things in place. Assuming you will be getting only a few birds to raise up to be layers, this plan works well for around 10 birds. Once you get the gist of it, you can set up additional brooders for larger amounts of chicks!!! You will need:
  • heat lamp
  • heat bulb
  • large cardboard box
  • wood 2x4
  • wood shavings (not sawdust!)
  • chick waterer
  • chick feeder
  • chick feed
  • small size grit
Heat Lamp - These are relatively inexpensive and can be bought at a hardware store, feed store, or online if you like. The bulb that works best for the chicks is a RED one, as it is easier on their eyes.
Cardboard Box - get a clean refrigerator box from an appliance store. These have worked great for me, and you can cut it to the height you need, so as the chicks grow and attempt to pop up into the air, they won't pop over the top and outside the box! Yep - they are kinda like popcorn!
Feeder/Waterer - these can be purchased at the feed store or online.
Grit - because chickens don't have teeth, food goes directly into their crop, so they need to grind the food in order to utilize it properly. Small grit is the size you need for chicks, and as they grow into large birds you can increase the size they will need to medium grit.
A word on Chick Feed - there are plain feeds and medicated feeds on the market today. I have always purchased medicated feed to prevent such diseases as coccidiosis. Most poultry suppliers will vaccinate chicks for around fifty cents a bird, and that is well worth it. Medicated feed for the first month, in my opinion, is worth feeding as a preventative, and it costs the same amount per sack. Some folks, because of the popularity of organic farming, don't want vaccinations or medicated feed anywhere near their chicks. That is their choice, and there's nothing wrong with that. They may or may not have troubles with the health of their birds during the early stages of "chick-hood". I prefer as much certainty as possible, myself, and prevention is the best medicine!

Of course you can buy a brooder from a poultry supplier or from the feed store. But, this is what I do, and it's easy, inexpensive, and you can send it to the landfill when you are through and not have to store much at all!

Cut the cardboard box down to about a 3 ft. height, and fill with pine wood shavings. (Sawdust is too fine, and the chicks might ingest it, causing blockage and illness.) Fill the feeder and waterer, placing them in the box. Then, grab each chick, dip their beaks into the water so they will start to drink. Don't dip so far as to let water enter their nostrils! Just wet the beak! Then, take the long 2x4 (it should be long enough to cross the top of the box and stay put, without falling into the box) and clamp the heat lamp onto it and plug it in. That's all there is to it!

Watch the chicks, and if they huddle together near the heat, you may have to lower the lamp an inch or so. If they try to go way to the sides of the box away from the lamp, they are too warm, so raise the lamp a bit higher. If they are walking around all over the box, napping and eating and drinking, they are ju-u-u-ust RIGHT!

You will have to keep an eye on how they are positioning themselves if you have them in an outbuilding and the weather is changing daily, like in early spring. As they grow larger and the down is replaced by feathers, you may not need to use the lamp during the day - only at night if it turns cold. But that's it for brooding in the brooder - pretty simple, and nothing to be afraid of. If I can do it, you can too!

Keep it Simple -


Jane said...

Very interesting. I had no idea what it takes to raise chicks!


Diann said...

Hi Monica!

When I was a little kid, my grandparents raised chickens. well, my parents and my grandparents raised them. My grands had a small farm and my dad and my grandpa would go and get the baby chicks from the feed store. This was something us kids looked forward to all the time. We got to go too. When we got back to my grandparents house, we helped getting all the chicks in the brooders.

Angela said...

Hey Monica!

You make it sound easy girl! Thanks for sharing how to get started with having chicks!


Life is good! said...

i've debated whether or not to raise a few chicks. you make it sound quite easy, i may just have to give it a try!

Chatty Crone said...

Okay - now that does not seem easy at all to this city slicker - seems like a lot of work girlfriend.


Rose said...

you know alot about the chicks. after i read your post i thought that's alot of things to have and do.i'm afraid i would get attached and that's not good. thanks for putting a comment on my blog.

dogsmom said...

Chickens are becoming more popular everyday for even backyard setups.
I hope more people read up on the care and requirements before undertaking this adventure.

^..^Corgidogmama said...

Once again, good info, that my daughter needs to read.

LV said...

I enjoyed hearing your version of raising little chick. Being born and raised on a farm, I know all about that process. One of my favorite things each day was gathering the eggs.

Homemade Quilts by Granny said...

My Mother just loves raiseing her chickens and so does my son.....its just not for me....I do like the eggs.

ocmist said...

Interesting quick 101 on Chick raising class! You made it sound pretty easy. I would think that since they don't lay eggs until they are grown up, if you go off the medicated food before they start to lay, then you wouldn't have a problem with the medication getting into the eggs.