Peepville: LynneP's Brooder, 2008
Handling the Birds- scroll to bottom.
May 31 (in coop)
We've purchased a brooder lamp with a 250W infrared bulb to raise the day-olds on May 16, and a 175 W to use as they grow. We're been trying to decide what to use as their brooder, and I think I'll donate my plant germinator. It's a 5'x 18"x 18" plexiglass container with a mottled history.
Years ago, one of my junior high students bought it from a corner store for $5.00 Cdn, when the owner stopped using it to store cigarettes. We clean it and used it for several years with aquarium additions to raise salmon, which were part of a release program in a local river.
Later the tank was used as a terrarium for salamander, and as a cactus chamber. When I retired I used it as a seed germinator, and I think the time has come to clean it again for chicks. We plan to put the brooder light at one end so that the chicks can move towards the heat or away from it. We haven't decided on bedding yet but we have a long chick feeder and a small waterer.
Today is March 26, 2008 and we created two lids for the brooder, one for the light and one for the other end to assist in ventilation.
We'll take it to the coop soon for a test run with the heat lamp.
Except for the lamp all materials were on hand in hubby's workshop, so this was a bargain. We have a sheeet of styrofoam that we can lay over the bigger hole on cool nights.
It's March 27, 2008 as we try the lamp over the brooder in an attempt to get the inside air temperature at 95F. The basement air temp was at 60F as we began. We discovered that the container was a bit cool without a partition, so we're creating a little wall at the end under the light, with an opening to allow the chicks to enter and leave the warmer room.
March 28- we added a partition, and the temperature now rises from 60F to 90F in one hour, but we need it warmer and will probably lower the lamp.
After trying this, we decided to modify the L-shaped partition moveable to the size of the warm 'room' can be increased as the chicks grow. I have a pic which I'll upload today, March 29. We also removed the guard under the lamp to get it closer to the warm chamber, and it's shielded by galvanized mason wire (1/2") so that there is no contact bewtween chicks and the light.
This is the result, a bit difficult to see everything because of the infrared effect on my camera. We installed a circular thermometer over the chick door, and the panel slides back to give more room on the warm side. The temperature comes quickly to 95F now that we've removed the guard and lowered the light. The ambient temperature in the barn coop is unknown for May 16, but with the adjustable clasp on the chain we can raise or lower the light as well as expand the warm room for the chicks. We also have a sheet of styrofoam over the mason wire on the cool side of the partition which can be moved back and forth to moderate ventilation and temperature. We're hopeful!
And here are the chicks, an even dozen on Day 2 of their life in Peepville:
It's working very well, not bad for an initial $5.00 Cdn, two scrap pieces of particleboard, a few brackets and leftover wire. The brooder lamp and two bulbs were bought new. I've added a couple of pieces of 2/4 because the chicks climbed the feeder on the first day and now they line up the way they would on a roost, but under the lamp. Lovely!
We've determined the chicks are Golden Comets and here they are at 10 weeks-
How to Handle the birds:
Now, I had them at 12 hours old and received good advice, so I hope you'll be as happy as I was. Always work in or near your brooder and in safe, escape-proof settings.
Remember that birds have trouble breathing if turned upside down and that if you grasp by legs, neck or wings (except for certain advanced purposes) you may kill or injure the bird.
Start Early-Gently grasp with both hands, securing the wings firmly. slowly, and with determination. For a few days cupping them and holding them just off the bedding may be sufficient. Some chicks will cry out but most adjust fast and you may have some who love being handled. All mine are *great* with this. Later on, as you lift up to your waist area, secure the inner wing against your ribs and support the bird under the sternum so that her head is up and she knows you will not drop her. You must be very careful not to drop her. A bad experience may ruin this, and you need to be able to handle her throughout her life. Speak low, kindly, with encouragement and don't keep her too long before reversing the procedure and setting her down where she can feel first with her toes and it is secure. After a few sessions, place her on your lap, stroke her, evaluate how she will behave. Most will adore you, some will coo, many will rub their necks or beaks against you. Being able to handle them is smart, and a godsend when you *must*. You do not want a terrified bird that will panic, lash out, or, worse, injure itself more. If you handle every bird every day for the first two weeks, when they are flying, they will always be in your comfort zone.
This is Redwing, who is smitten with my husband. She is so sweet that if either of us is in the coop, she waits to lay her egg so she can call us over to see. Once you are handling the birds, they will transfer the trust to others, provided they are gentle and knowledgeable. Redwing can be lifted from anywhere to David's lap and will remain there, cooing, dancing, allowing herself to be petted. We could inject her, examine her, medicate her.