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Lining a brooder

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Afternoon all, I'll be picking up my first batch of chicks next week Wednesday and have a question about my brooder.

 

I've got 31 chicks coming and plan on keeping them in an unheated garage (in northern Wisconsin) for about 5-6 weeks so I've built a pretty big brooder for em' (4x8x36"). To keep them away from the concrete I put a 2" layer of foam in the bottom with a piece of OSB over it...I'm going to install a divider with a removable door so they are restricted to one half for the first couple of weeks. I plan on allowing them to use both sides (with 2 heat lamps) and be able to "herd" them to from one side to the other for cleaning (once they outgrow one half of the brooder). I'm also planning on installing a hinged cardboard top with holes that I can slowly open up as their heat requirements decrease...and the weather warms up....:/

 

I'd really like to keep the cardboard and OSB in decent condition so I can use this brooder again if (or when :D) I decide to get more chicks next year. (12 screws and the frame comes apart and that's 1/2" cardboard from diesel engine shipping boxes!;)).

 

I'm aware of the puppy pads for the first week, then I plan on either pine shavings or pellets (depending on what is more "economical" at our local and helpful feed mill) but I would like to put something down to prevent moisture from water playtime and droppings from impregnating the cardboard and OSB.

 

Can I safely use a heavy plastic liner (like 6 mil painters plastic) to line it? Or will they eat it? I have a very attentive better half that is already planing on perches and toys to keep the chicks occupied but I'm still concerned with them picking at the plastic...I've also thought of the plastic panels people use in milk houses with about 12" running up the sides and sealing the corners with food grade silicone...but that's kind of costly and considering the coop my better half wants me to build,:bow I have to save as much as I can when I can...

 

Thoughts would be much appreciated!

 

 

 

post #2 of 9
Your brooder will still get crowded very quickly, I had pecking issues one year because of it. So expect to build something bigger by about 4 weeks. You can put up a temporary pen in the corner of your garage.

My brooder is made out of wooden boards, wasn't very expensive but I've been using it for about 25 years, the bottom has 2x4 to raise it off the concrete.

Even if your brooder comes out of the season okay the cardboard will start to break down even from a bit of dampness, I would just expect to change the cardboard each batch, you also can't disinfect it either.

I use pine shavings, the first week I put down paper towels on top of it. The feeder and waterer are put on either bucket lids or later raised up with bricks.
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply oldhen, my dad is visiting this weekend so we can get the coop started...

I appreciate the levelheadedness, I get stuck on a train of thought sometimes and just keep spooling around it...

So you think my 4x8 will get too crowded by 4 weeks huh...I was hoping for a little longer...but I'll have to rethink my plan...
post #4 of 9
Not definitely at four weeks, but they won't make it the whole eight weeks without being bored and crowded. At about 2 weeks they start to want to do more than sleep and eat and are ready for some scratching and pecking, if they haven't much to keep them occupied they often start pecking. If it's warm enough out they can spend time outside in a temporary day pen, or if your coop is ready they can go out there with a heat lamp, by that age I'm mostly running it at night if the temperature cooperates. You can also add things like perches and clumps of clean sod with dirt and grass, or clumps of dandelion weed to occupy them.
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
post #5 of 9

We did some cardboard last year, not as nice as yours.  Even though I lined it, it still got wet and unuseable.  And I agree with the previous poster that you can't disinfect it.  But what you've done looks great.  We made a brooder last year that we are now still using in the 3rd year happily.  It was just 4 pieces of plywood and some 2x2s and 1x2s.  We used one piece on the bottom and each of the long sides.  And then we cut the other piece in half for the short sides.  Those we also cut in half and put on hinges so that we can hinge them down to get in easily.  Then when we're done brooding and keep it in the shed until next year.  But we were sure the first year to write on each piece which was which so that we  looks like you have nice wooden frames for that cardboard.  You could fill that in with plywood and be fine.  Have fun with the coop!

post #6 of 9

If you do use 6 mil plastic, staple it firmly in place so a chick can't find its way under it and suffocate. Chicks have an amazing ability to find loose flaps, small holes, and whatnot to commit suicide. It's heart breaking when it happens, and the sight of a dead chick due to something you neglected to consider stays in your mind for months afterward.

 

How soon can your dad get a coop and run finished? The chicks will be eligible to move into the coop around four or five weeks, and you can begin taking them out for field trips starting at two weeks when the weather hits a sunny, calm 70F for short periods. It's simple to transport them from brooder to outdoors and back to brooder by herding them into a pet carrier. It would be nice to have a run finished for this purpose.

 

Once they have their romp and begin to cool off, they will automatically congregate inside the carrier if you leave it there by them with the door open. Then you just only need to close the door on it and bring them back in.

 

A reminder: the brooder does not need to be closed off to force the chicks to remain on the heated side. It's unsafe and totally unnecessary since the chicks only need to be able to warm themselves intermittently under the lamp. The entire remainder of their time, they need to have cool space in which to allow the heat from their bodies to dissipate. This is the only way they are able to regulate their body heat while still in down. Not being able to have space to get away from the heat source inhibits this ability to self regulate, and overheating may occur, resulting in death. When you have as many chicks as you are having, it's critical to use every bit of space available for the chicks to self regulate, and baby chicks will happily use all the space you give them to be chicks. Do not close off half the brooder!

post #7 of 9
I built a cheaper version of your brooder. I brood in the old coal room of my basement. I put foam panels down on the ground for insulation, covered it with a tarp, then built the brooder out of large moving boxes and duct tape. The flaps on the boxes were turned to the inside of the brooder on the bottom to better contain everything (on the top they were taped upright for more height). Then I dumped a bale of shavings in. It was probably 5x5x3' for 21 chicks. The bale lasted the whole time, so I didn't have to worry about cleaning anything but the food/waterer. They did start sailing over the top at about 6 weeks.

When I was done brooding, I just broke down the boxes and put them in the recycle bin. Then I gathered the corners of the tarp and drug it and the shavings outside to the compost pile. Hosed off the tarp with soap followed by disinfectant, let dry, the put it back in place. Built another cardboard surround for the next batch!
post #8 of 9

Welcome!  The box is good; consider painting the inside walls to make it easier to clean later, rather than plastic.  Use shavings or pellets on the floor (I think shavings are better).  Make a hardware cloth top, NOT cardboard.  They need the ventilation!  Don't divide the brooder, rather have the heat lamp (VERY well secured!) towards one end, so they can move around the whole space and regulate their own temps.  I hang mine to an overhead beam, starting lower and raising it gradually.  Set the whole thing up ahead of time, with a thermometer under the lamp, so you know how it's working before the chicks arrive.  I have the waterer in place the day before, and turn on the heat lamp before picking up the babies at the post office.  Call or visit your post office so they will call you AT ANY TIME when the chicks arrive.  Enjoy!  Mary

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks all for the reply's...sorry its taken a while to get back on here as I've been busier than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs the last week...My dad was up last weekend and we got a great start on the coop...it was rainy and damp but we trudged through it...The 2 big openings are for a couple of recycled patio door glass panels I received free from a friend. They face south with the hopes of passive thermal in the winter time...I believe we'll end up spliting the inside next winter (we'll be down to about12 layers and a rooster) to help keep them warm. The door frame is a pocket door frame that I messed up trying to put in our basement last winter. We had picked up a solid 6 panel pine door from Menard's scratch and dent section for $5...I'll paint that up good and use it with our old storm door I changed already this spring....When we were at Menard's 2 weeks ago, I managed to get a "coop load" of red tin for more than 50% off so we'll have a red coop and roof with black trim! I like me some bargains!:celebrate

 

I decided to line the inside with the milk house material, I ran it up 12" on the side and used some food grade silicone to seal it. Since it's in the garage, I put a lid on it to keep the temps warm for the next week or two since they're forecasting snow and high's of 30 this weekend...We did dry runs before the kids showed up and realized another heat source would be good so we also built a Mother hen brooder (found in the forums here) with an electric heating pad...The babies should be nice and snug!

 

Just got back to work from picking up the kids and the little women (I often refer to as the smarter one! :hugs) insisted on doing the water christening and hanging out with them to make sure everyone was good to go...They were a little chilled when we picked them up but were all napping in the car with the heater on high on the way home! :) Everyone started drinking and eating right away...I'm guessing momma will be sleeping in the box too when I get home! :pop

 

More to come in the weeks ahead!

 

Thanks again for the tips and please keep them coming!

 

 

 

 

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