Okay, as a first run at this my father and I bought my mother 12 chicks (6 RIRS and 6 Austras) and we made a brooder out of one of those metal feed tubs at the hardware store. However, these chicks are growing rapidly. The seem to double in size each week. As a temporary solution my mother went out and bought a cheep coop that would fit in the garage. It is meant for 9 chickens but as it is going to be used as a grow pen of sorts I think it will suffice nicely for now. That said, I do plan on getting my own birds in the near future, I would like to get two dozen Silver laced Wyandottes but that is for another thread. The point is that I want to be prepared, sure I could make do with what my mother has for the twelve birds after she is done with it but I would like to accommodate my chicks a little more as there will be twice as many.
Moving on, I do plan on growing my mini chicken farm each year for about three years. I would like to double what I have the second year and double it again the second year. I intend to keep my chicken breeds separate as I intend to try my hand at hatching chicks! Anyway, the point is that I want to be prepared for the future rather than having to redo this three+ times if I decide to do a small hatch each year. So, my thoughts are that I need some sort of large brooder or growing pen for when the chicks outgrow the smaller brooder but before they go in the coop. Something for week 3-8ish. If that is the case I might as well setup a larger brooder/grow pen from the start and I am looking for advice.
From what I have read, for temporary housing like this I can go with 1.5-2 square feet per chick. My coop will be closer to 4 SQF and the run about 8 SQF per bird. How this will work is that I will have 24 chicks this year and order another 24 next year and then 48 the year after that. The goal is to have 24x of 4 breeds. I will have 4 coops and 4 runs outside so that is no worry. However, I am wondering what size to make these large brooders?
My thoughts are as follows. I intend to build them like rabbit hutches and keep them in a heated garage. I was thinking something like 8 foot long by 4 foot wide by 2-3 foot high. If I build two of these that will give me about 1.5 square foot per bird per hutch at 48 birds. As I said, at year two I also intend to hatch a few of my own for friends and family so after the first year I will need both brooders anyway. Does this sound like a fair plan or am I still thinking too small?