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Hover/Ohio Brooder

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
How come I have never heard of this on this website? In case you are unaware of what it is, it's an upside down box that sits just above the ground. It allows the chicks easy in/out access but is meant to keep the heat in. Most don't even seem to use the 250 watt heat lamps for them. I'd imagine that even if you don't live in the frigid north it'd still save electricity and if you do live in the frigid north it'd extend the chick raising season.

I'm starting my build. My brooder is built into my shed. So I'm just building it into the corner of my brooder. The scrap I had laying around was four feet long and about three feet wide. I have the 250 watt heat lamps already but also have been using a dimmer switch and this would be another great application.

So I'm wondering what everybody thinks? Do you use this design? Do you mount the lights on the side or top and why? Thanks all!

Pics of my current setup.

post #2 of 11
You might find this 1942 war-time article about hovers interesting. They are certainly not new.

A few people on this forum mention the hover as a way to take care of chicks but you’re right, I don’t recall any thread that really explored them. I mentioned it just a few days back but I don’t use one so I can’t give any advice or details based on experience.

I think a hover does one thing very well, it provides an area warm enough while letting other areas cool off so the chicks can self-regulate. I do that with my heat lamps, heat one area of the brooder while letting other areas cool off. There are other methods that do the same thing. That takes all the stress about keeping things the right temperature away. Make those chicks do the work.

If you read that old article they mount the lights on the sides and face them across the brooder, not mount them on top and point them down. I haven’t looked at any articles newer than 1942 so I don’t know if that advice has changed. I like the dimmer switch idea but you might want to look at a smaller wattage bulb also. At least have one handy to have a bit more flexibility in managing it.

The only problem I can see with the hover is that you might have a lot of trouble seeing what is going on underneath. Say a chick dies under there, how would you know? It should conserve heat really well so yes, it should cut your electricity bill.

Maybe you can start a hover revolution on here. Good luck!

 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.


 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'll see what I can do about that revolution lol. I am definitely building one. I'll have to wait until my current chicks are ready to go with my flock. To late to putz with the brooder now. I am about done with my current hatch. I will have to build a hinge into the system to allow for better access, especially since I am using the corner of the building as two of the walls of the hover.
post #4 of 11

:pop Interested to see that goes!

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
So here is another thought. Can I put one of these in my main coop? Chicks can escape under the hover if needed and would integrate very easily with the flock. Thoughts?
post #6 of 11
Thoughts, OK but remember I don’t have any actual experience with that.

Think of the logistics. You need food and water for the chicks. That’s not going to be under the hover. My adults seem to greatly enjoy anything I put out for the chicks, especially food, even if it is exactly the same food they are eating. And chickens like to scratch. They will probably full up any water container with bedding just from scratching. You could use some kind of creep feeder set-up to provide feed and water only for the chicks, but if you do that, why not just put the whole thing in a protected area? I think you could work this out.

The entire issue is how much danger are the chicks in from the other adults. Will the adults seek out to destroy the chicks? Will the chicks be able to get away and stay away from the adults?

I’ve seen a lot of broody hens raise chicks in the flock. In spite of what you read on here, it is pretty rare for me to see another hen do anything to threaten a baby chick. Of course my experience comes with the chickens having a lot of room. My adults don’t go in the coop after I open the pop door until they go to bed unless they go in to lay an egg. With the hover I’d expect those chicks to stay in the coop for a few weeks at least, though probably a lot fewer weeks than many would think. I’ve seen a couple of different broody hens wean their chicks at three weeks, totally leaving them alone to make their way with the flock. Many people on here comment that four weeks is pretty normal.

On those rare occasions a hen does threaten her babies, the broody hen quickly and thoroughly kicks butt. Also a broody hen constantly makes a clucking sound. I’m sure a big part of that is to tell her babies where she is but it may also serve as a warning to the other hens that she is watching.

If you read that article, the chicks soon spend more time on top of the hover than under it. No protection up there.

I think the chicks will be at a certain risk the first week or two, probably higher than I’d be willing to take. I really like the idea of a broody hen teaching the other hens to leave her babies alone. But if the chicks are raised with the flock with the brooder in the coop, I’d be pretty comfortable trying it after two to three weeks. By then if your temperatures are pretty warm they may not need any heat anyway. But a safe haven might come in handy.

I’ve seen a broody wean her chicks at three weeks in the warm part of the year. During a ridiculous heat wave a few years back I turned the daytime heat off at 2 days and the overnight heat off at 5 days. My brooder is in the coop. Their body language told me they did to need the heat and they did not.

It comes down to how much risk you are willing to take. It’s one of those things where you might be fine or you might have a disaster. And if you do it the same way a different time, you may get totally different results.

 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.


 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Ya it's probably not worth it. As the pictures above show I have a space for chicks. Not only that but my chickens do get access to this part of the coop but do not jump the walls. Laziness and being buff orps being the main reason. But the chickens can see the chicks through the door I made and can still get used to them.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Well my hover is pretty much built. I just need to finish the wiring but that won't take to long. As you can see I used an old door for a kitchen cupboard. So I can easily open and inspect. I also have an adjustable bottom on the other side. It's ugly but it'll get the job done if needed.

Edited by Bush84 - 5/4/16 at 7:12am
post #9 of 11

Looks good, I do like the idea.

Couple of questions, I'm not "nitpicking" I'm one of "those people" who tries to think of all the horrible things that can happen and then try to be prepared/correct before it happens.


Here goes:

  Where the lights are on the sides are you going to put some type of barrier - something like hardware cloth over the bulbs to keep those chicks off of it? I can just see (in my mind) a chick attempting to fly/climb on the side boards and the light bulbs (burned toes/fluff? broken bulb/glass?).

  I understand the hover is so they can go in and out as they please, wondering if there needs to be any type of ventilation while they are in the box or is there enough airflow coming underneath. More ventilation may defeat the hover purpose of keeping a warm area, but...?


Just thinking:)

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
I always welcome constructive criticism. People may see something that I am blind to. I had thought about some sort of cover for the light. Haven't decided what yet.

I don't think ventilation is ever much of a concern from what I have read. Mine however isn't as tight as others due to the door. That should help a bit with that.
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