Introduction to Keeping Chickens Part 3 of 5


| 1/28/2013 11:27:18 AM


Tags: raising chicks, brooder, heat lamp, part 3 introduction, Melissa Caughey, Tilly's Nest, Melissa Caughey,

 Chicks a bit older can explore the outside during warm days 

THE ART OF CHICKEN HOMEMAKING/ CREATING A BROODER 

As the arrival of your chicks quickly approaches, you will need to create a brooder.  This will be their home for about the next 6 weeks.  For their first week of life, the chicks will need the brooder temperature to be about 95 degrees F.  This is maintained by your heat lamp.  As each week passes, the temperature is lowered by 5 degrees until you reach the outdoor equivalent or they are fully feathered.  When we had our chicks delivered in June, temperatures were already in the 70s outside.  At six weeks of age, they transitioned outside.   Our mid-July temperatures were in the mid-eighties at that point.  We only used the heat lamp with the 250 watt bulb for about 2 weeks.  After that, I used a regular household light bulb of various wattages in the heat lamp.  Some people create brooders in their bathtubs, living space, or sheds.  Just remember that chickens are messy, sometimes stinky and produce dust in this stage.  Thus, we set our brooder up in the garage.

Your brooder can also be a large cardboard box, a wooden box, or a galvanized metal tub.  I used a wooden box on loan from a friend for my six chicks.  It was about 2.5 feet by 2.5 feet and stood about 2.5 feet tall.  Depending on the size of your flock, you may require a larger enclosure.  On top of my brooder, I added an old guard from a screen door.  This prevented them from flying out or into the heat lamp.  Upon the screen door guard, I rested the heat lamp.  Remember that the goals of your brooder include keeping the chicks warm, providing fresh air, protecting them for predators like household cats and keeping them free from drafts.  These all must be taken into consideration.  Line the bottom of your brooder with large thick pieces of cardboard cut to size.  Upon the cardboard, spread newspaper.  Next add some fresh pine shavings about 2 inches thick.

The day before your chicks arrive, fill the feeder and place it inside the brooder.  The feeder should be filled with a combination of about 25% grit and 75% feed.  When my chicks were about 3 weeks, I added a child-size shoe box lid filled with feed and grit.  My chicks enjoyed learning to scratch that way!  It also kept them entertained for hours.  They were practicing being big chickens!!  Remember that the feed will need to be refreshed daily as the chicks poop everywhere.

Next fill the waterer and place it on a level spot.   As the chicks get older they will explore.  They will spill the water and put pine shavings in the waterer.  Thus it will need frequent checking.  It is recommended that you check on your chicks about 5 times per day.  You never know what they will get themselves into!  As the chicks grew larger, I placed the waterer up on two bricks placed side by side.  This helped keep the water clean and they were less likely to spill it.  The waterer should be cleaned daily with white vinegar.  Keep in mind that you may need to change the water a few times a day based on its cleanliness.  It is very important to have clean water.  Dirty water can make your chicks sick.




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