Brooder bedding and a space question . . .

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by scoopy82, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. scoopy82

    scoopy82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 19, 2010
    Victoria - Australia!
    I am about to change from paper towel to pine shavings and just have a few questions:
    1. How deep do you have the bedding?
    2. How do you maintain it daily such as turning it over?
    3. How often do you change it completely?
    4. How far away is a safe distance for the heat lamp?

    Just a little info about my set up - my brooder is 2ft x 2 1/2ft, it contains four 1 week old chicks and because it is so hot here at the moment (currently 39c or 102f) they are hardly needing their lamp, the brooder themometre says 85f so I've turned the light off and the chicks are more than comfortable. I had been using a 125w floodlight but have switched to a 75w red heat lamp.

    Also wondering how long my little ones can stay comfortably in a brooder this size before it becomes too cramped?

    Thanks [​IMG]
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I put only an inch of bedding or so down to start. Mostly they turned it for me. I just stirred it around or added shavings when it got a bit messy or smelly. I only changed it all out a couple of times.

    My broody raised chicks, under one week, are out all day in much cooler temps than yours. They do sleep under mama, of course. No heat, and outdoors, days mostly in the 50's. I wouldn't put the heat back on yours during the day at all. You might check at night to see how they are sleeping; they might need a bit of added warmth for a week or two, I seriously doubt for any longer. And they might need none at all, starting today.

    They'll have enough space for 4 weeks. Hopefully you can get them outdoors in your weather by then. Here's a formula I found recently on here, by an experienced chicken keeper:

    0.5 sq ft per chick, first two weeks
    1 sq ft per chick for weeks 3 and 4
    2.5 sq ft per chick for weeks 4-8

    Since they're considered fully feathered at 8 weeks, they are then ready for the coop, even in cold weather.
     
  3. scoopy82

    scoopy82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 19, 2010
    Victoria - Australia!
    Thank you Thank you Thank you!
    What great knowledge this forum can provide!
    They had their lamp on last night, but it has been off during the day for the last 2 days running. I have been careful to watch their activity and have come to the conclusion that they are a lot tougher than what I give them credit for!
    By week 4 they will be going outside into a little coop and I will put the heat lamp in there and only turn it on when needed, but given our weather I'm sure it will hardly be used.
    They slept on the shavings last night too - this morning their feed was burried and their drinker was full of the stuff. But they looked like they'd had such a great time scratching about, I'm off to address this little issue [​IMG] Oh and to find them some bugs, they are attacking everything that goes into the brooder - mostly the themometre probe. Bout time they learnt the difference between inatimate object and food!
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I know, on the tough thing! Never ceases to amaze me, recommending 95+ degrees F for the first week, and by then mine have spent the whole day at 50 degrees; one batch at 30 to 35 degrees! I watch the mama squat down and call them to come under her, I presume to get warm, and they run up to (or over) her and continue on their way.

    I've gotten real good at building little sets of steps out of bricks so their water is about 8 inches above the shavings. Mama insists on billing all the food onto the ground so they have to peck and scratch to get it, which presents a different challenge. The chicks will eat it out of the feeder given the chance, but I guess she does not approve.

    Don't forget the chick grit if you find some bugs -- around here we can usually buy crickets from the bait store -- that is a hoot to watch! I've about used up all the fine stuff at the bottom of the grit bag on this batch.

    Enjoy your babies!
     
  5. scoopy82

    scoopy82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 19, 2010
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    Thanks again, I think I am being a little over protective as they are my first ever babies and they had a tricky start to life (the mumma they were under was determined to kill every last one of them as they hatched, so after she ate 4 chicks on hatch day I spent 30 minutes building a bator and hatched the remaining eggs, of the 8 eggs left there were 5 fertile and I ended up with 4 chicks, i think i cooked the last one [​IMG] but 4 outa 5 is great considering i would have ended up with none if i had have left them with her). Sorry for getting side tracked, but they are pretty special and I want to make sure they come out happy and healthy. Spose at the end of the day I have to let them be chicks and do as chicks do.
    Can I use normal shell grit or is there special chick grit? Or can i give my big girls the chunkier bits and give the babies the finer stuff in the bottom of the bag?
    I tried to give them boiled egg twice now and they wont have a bar of it, nor do they like yoghurt. But they love their crumbles and I reckon they will love 'live' food!
     
  6. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Wow, that's quite a beginning-of-life story, and fiunny, too -- I can just see you throwing together an incubator in 30 minutes! Pretty darn good success for the situation, I agree!

    I have one that killed hers as they hatched, too. Unfortunately I caught it as she was working on the last one. At least I'd only given her 3 or 4 of my mutt eggs.

    I buy regular chicken grit from TSC (only place I can find it) and give the babies the finer stuff at the bottom of the bag. There is also special chick grit, but it's actually coarser than some of the fine stuff in my bag of adult grit. For little ones you can get away with sand, at least for a while.

    Mine took to scrambled eggs immediately. I've never even tried boiled eggs. So if they seemed hesitant with a new food, I first added it to, or put it on top of, scrambled eggs. Worked fine. It's how I got them eating yogurt, just smeared it on top after the eggs cooled some. (I'd seen a pic on here of someone offering the same.) Mine range up to 3 years and I had to do something similar with BOSS -- sprinkled it on, I think, tuna noodle casserole that I just couldn't finish (I made a big one and it's just me.) Mine absolutely love any cooked meat or fish, as well as pasta. Now they go for the BOSS first if I mix it with anything. You could also try moistening a couple spoons of crumble, since they like it so, then adding your new food to that. Usually they love their feed moistened; I've only done it a few times, but they did like it.

    They're just so funny about anything new, aren't they? Crazy kids, not so different from human kids sometimes....

    I've never heard of chickens NOT going for live food....
     

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