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What Do I Need To Take Care Of Chicks?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I am planning to pick up a few chicks (4-6) in the next week or so. What do I need for a brooder?

 

I have a small bird cage that is probably about 18" square. If I cover the sides with cardboard, would that suffice? Do I need a dedicated heat lamp, or would a 100W bulb with a reflector provide enough heat?

 

Average temp in my home is about 65-68.

 

Other than that I know I need starter feed, a waterer & feeder, anything else? At 49, I have never raised chicks but I guess you have to start somewhere. Of course, my 14 YO daughter is going "to do all the work".

 

We'll see how that works out roll.png

post #2 of 7

We used a large rubbermaid container and lined the bottom with bedding pellets that you get from the feed store.  I made a cover using a wood frame and wire screening.  Just put the bedding pellets in the container, about an inch to two inches deep, add the chick waterer and feeder, and then the chicks.  I think you should invest in a heat lamp, red or white doesn't matter, and find a way to mount it above the brooder.  I mounted mine off of a work bench and then regulated the height by putting the rubbermaid container on wood blocks.  To adjust the heat I just added or removed blocks to move the brooder closer or farther from the lamp.

 

After a week or two you might want to add a some type of small perch into the brooder as they will want to start jumping up onto objects.

 

Here's the link to my BYC page so you can see some pics.  You'll see that I used two heat lamps.  That was my first batch of chicks.  For the second batch I only used one heat lamp and had no issues.  I'd get a small thermometer and place in the brooder so you can monitor the temp.  Should be around 95 to start and then back off about 5 degrees a week after the first week.

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/mikecnorthwests-chicken-coop


Edited by mikecnorthwest - 2/26/12 at 8:20am
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply. A plastic tote sounds like a better idea than a small cage. I also have a plastic dog box, but I am afraid it would  become an oven if I aimed a heat lamp through the wire door.

 

My wife even suggested putting them in the bathtub in the spare bathroom! I don't think so!

 

Are pellets better than shavings for chick bedding? We use a pellet stove for heat, so always have wood pellets around.

post #4 of 7

I like the pellets for brooding purposes but use pine shavings as a floor cover once they go out to the coop.  The bedding pellets are specifically designed as a floor cover and are absorbent.  I don't think you want to use wood stove pellets.  

post #5 of 7

100_6660.JPG

 

Chicks need plenty of room to run and play, and they grow very fast, so 18" will be too small for that many chicks, especially if you plan on keeping them in the same brooder for the full six weeks.  We use a large rubber maid container(shown above), it works great for up to 10 chicks, for 4 to 6 weeks.  We keep it in our master bath tub, to keep the dogs and cats from bothering the chicks.  You'll definitely need a brooder light, chicks need to be kept at a temp of 90 to 95 degrees, then reducing 5 degrees each week until they're fully feathered. 

 

Make sure you have the coop ready before you bring them home.  We made that mistake last year, thinking six weeks would be plenty of time, it wasn't.  It was really stressful rushing to get it done while having babies, that were getting too big for their brooder.

 

If you haven't raised chickens before, it might be a good idea to get a how to book, on the subject.  It's not hard, but there is a lot that has to be considered.  My favorite book is Chick Days by Jenna Woginrich, it give new comers all the basic info they need, and has plenty of full color photos to illustrate all the how to's. Or, if you don't want to buy a book, you may be able to find

one at your local library.  Research is the key to healthy happy chicks, and happy owners too....good luck!  smile.png


Edited by featheredroots - 2/26/12 at 9:25am

Suburban homesteader and wife to 1 amazingly patient man, mom of 2 awesome eclectic homeschoolers, 2 spoiled jack russell chihuahuas, 2 fat russian blue mixes, 1 white ee, and 1 golden comet.

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Suburban homesteader and wife to 1 amazingly patient man, mom of 2 awesome eclectic homeschoolers, 2 spoiled jack russell chihuahuas, 2 fat russian blue mixes, 1 white ee, and 1 golden comet.

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post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies! I just got back from town and picked up a big tote and some hardware cloth to make a cover for it. I guess we will be keeping them in the tote in the master bath tub, with a heat lamp overhead.

 

The coop construction is well underway, the basic framing is all done and primed. Just waiting for payday to pick up more materials. It is wonderful to be able to ask those with more experience who have done this a thousand times. This forum is a great resource. Thank you all!

 

It is also nice to be able to read new replies on my phone while at the store. I am convinced that technology will lead to the downfall of mankind, but until then, I am going to take advantage of it, LOL.

 

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

I guess this will do for a brooder.

 

IMG00458-20120226-1815.jpg

 

And the coop in progress...

 

IMG00457-20120226-1346.jpg
 

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