Making a Chick Brooder

 

 Making a Chick Brooder for  Home

 

Make a chick brooder

 

The season for buying chicks is approaching. I want to show you how easy making a chick brooder at home can be. Lucky for us, chicks start out small and don’t need a lot of room for the first few weeks. This makes keeping them warm and safe in our homes much easier. There are many ways to put together a brooder for your chicks. I have seen some very elaborate set ups, some that work very well and some that do not work at all. The one that does not work well is using a cardboard box. The cardboard will not hold up to the water and droppings very well. 

Make a Chick Brooder

A one quart water bottle will provide the chicks with enough water for the day, under most circumstances. When they outgrow the brooder it may be time to go up to the gallon size water fount.

 

Make a Brooder

As an alternative, a pint or quart mason jar can be used with the traditional water fount base

 

I once saw a homemade brooder box that was gorgeous. It was made out of plywood, had posts built into the sides to hang the heat lamps from, and included a sturdy floor. It was really nice but heavy too and not easy to move around. It would  be a good brooder to keep in a garage type enclosure. Commercially, there are kits you can purchase that are plastic coated corrugated panels. The panels connect together to form an enclosure. The drawback is that while it is lightweight, it is hard to move from room to room. 

For many of us, we will be keeping our four to six chicks in our homes until they are ready for the big kids coop. My favorite way to do this, with minimal mess and space is to use a plastic bin, or storage tote. I prefer to use the clear style but I am not sure it really makes a difference to the chicks. The large plastic storage totes are easy to relocate if necessary and cleanup is a breeze. This type of set up should carry you through the first six weeks of the chicks’ life. If the weather is still too cold for them to go to the big coop, you may need to come up with a grow out pen for the chicks. 

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The totes come in a few different sizes and I would buy the largest one I could find and that I  have space for. When I worked in a feed store we sold brooder kits. The kits were packed in a plastic tote and contained everything that you needed to go home with the chicks and get started. Included items were, a package of pine shavings, five pounds of starter chick food, a water fount, a feeder, a booklet of helpful tips on chick raising, a heat lamp and red heat bulb. Some additional items you may want on hand include something like Nutri-drench for chickens and a pkg of electrolyte powder to have on hand, just in case. Nutri-drench is a commercial product  intended to give the chicks a good energy boost of vitamins and calories. We would add a few drops to the quart of water when doing a water change. Drops of molasses can also be used. The only other thing I would suggest would  be a brick to place the water fount on to keep it a little higher than the shavings. This will keep the water cleaner.

If you need to keep the lid on the plastic bin make sure you cut a hole in the top and cover it with some type of wire. Be careful to keep the chick brooder away from curious household pets, when not being supervised. Also be careful to  securely hang the heat lamp far enough away from the plastic bin to avoid fire hazards. 

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If you don’t have a brooder thermometer, don’t worry! You can observe the chicks behavior while in the brooder to determine if they are comfortable. If the chicks are clustered together under the heat lamp, they are too cold. If they are hanging out on the edges of the box, they are probably too hot. Adjust the temperature by raising or lowering the heat lamp until the chicks are moving about freely, eating, drinking and napping. 

Enjoy your baby chicks! They grow up so fast!

 

My new book, Chickens From Scratch, is available through this website and the kindle version is available through Amazon.com. Please let me know how you like it! I love to talk chickens!

 This post first appeared on Backyard Poultry Magazine.

 

 Thanks to From The Farm Blog Hop for featuring this post  ftf-feature-new