1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

brooder in unheated garage in winter with heat lamp... yay or nay?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by kylen2007, Jan 28, 2016.

  1. kylen2007

    kylen2007 Chillin' With My Peeps

    199
    7
    63
    Mar 18, 2015
    Ohio
    I have read several threads about brooders but most of them are people with chicks in late spring. I plan to use an old dog crate I have for a large dog as a brooder so all of my chicks can be in one brooder instead of two separate ones. Also I will be able to put in sticks for perches and room to spread their wings a bit. The crate is large and The only place I have room for it is either in my living room (which I do not want to do) or in my garage which is unheated. Lately our temps have been in the 20s at night. The garage is insulated and I can easily set a heat lamp (or 2) for them. Will the cold nights be an issue? I also have a barn cat who sleeps in the garage so I would need to put something around the cage so she can't get her paws in there and torment the chicks. Silly cat won't go in the backyard and is oblivious to the already 20 chickens back there. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Chicken Egg 17

    Chicken Egg 17 Chillin' With My Peeps

    4,438
    200
    201
    Dec 11, 2015
    McVeytown PA
    I used an old Guinea pig cage when they first hatched and they stayed in that for a couple of weeks and then I put them I in a large dog crate as mentioned and I put card board around the bottom of it so they would no get there head stuck or something and I had perches there in the back they slept on at night and they flew up on them all the time threw out the day. And I had a feeder made out of a butter bowl with holes in it and hung it from the top of the crate and I had i think 6 chicks in it they had plenty of room I had them in there for about four weeks and then they went out to the chicken run and had the run spit in half so the big birds could not hurt the little ones. And I had a blanket I covered the cage at night to hold the heat in and I turn on the heat light for a couple minutes to get it nice and warm in there and covered the cage and they were fine and it got almost that cold I out but that was 5-6 months ago
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,451
    3,484
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I've always brooded in an unheated, uninsulated barn. I use galvanized steel tubs, so no drafts, and a heat lamp or a heating pad cave system. All the chicks need is a warm spot, they don't need the entire brooder to be warm. As long as you've got a lamp or a cave, they'll be fine.
     
    2 people like this.
  4. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    28,320
    2,278
    471
    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    I like to have mine in the living room inside for 2 weeks, and then they go out to the coop. I found it hard to keep a brooder warm enough outside when they need 90 degree F temps. If you brood them outside, I would blanket or put plastic around the sides and bottom of the dog crate to prevent drafts. The cage wire over top can be clear for air circulation. The heat lamp should be 250 watt red and be no closer than 18 inches to the floor of the brooder, then you can raise it higher to lower the temps. An inexpensive thermometer on the floor in the hottest spot helps to regulate how hot. Make sure they have a cooler spot to get away from the heat. We really like to watch the chicks for the first week or two, and make sure they don't pile pine shavings into their water or spill food and water while they are young. It also helps to spot any shipping stress troubles right away during those first 10 days. Any pasty butt can be washed easily, too. Good luck.
     
  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

    14,567
    2,230
    376
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I would also keep them in the garage but you need something with solid sides like donrae said, I would cover the top with a screen or wire to keep the cat out, but you may find him sitting under the heat lamp, and depending on how cold it is you may have to block off part of the top to hold heat. I think that cat will be a bigger challenge.
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

    17,171
    3,485
    456
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    You absolutely can brood your chicks in the garage. How many will you be brooding? Here's my suggestion: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yes-you-certainly-can-brood-chicks-outdoors It's far better IMO than using a heat lamp.
    After my first indoor brooding experience, I vowed that I would NEVER brood in the house again. Even brooding in the garage is a horror show IMO in terms of the dander. I did the MHP brooding in an old coop last year, and temps were below freezing at night, and often down into 30's during the day. The biggest issue I see with your planned set up is the barn cat. He's got a strong prey drive, I'm thinking. He'll go to great lengths to snag a chick. He'll be able to reach very far in through those bars, if he can reach in anywhere. And even if he can't reach in, just his predatory behavior around them may cause them to pig pile, leading to the chicks on the bottom getting trampled and killed.
     
  7. kylen2007

    kylen2007 Chillin' With My Peeps

    199
    7
    63
    Mar 18, 2015
    Ohio
    I will have a total of 14 chicks. I have storage tubs I usually use but they are smaller so I would have to split the chicks up into two separate tubs. My other option is out in my coop I have a chicken jail that is used to put birds in the day before they are processed. I also use it to integrate new birds into my excisting flock. Once they are 6-8 weeks and they can go out to the coop I put them in there so that the bigger ones can see them but can't pick on them. I could use it but during the day there would be a draft when I open the door to the run. Also they wouldn't get handled as much being all the way out in the coop. [​IMG]I really was hoping to use the crate to give them more room. They get cramped in the tubs quickly and once they get it out they are like mini gangs that wont hang out with anyone but who was in their tub. Even if they are all the same breed.
     
  8. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

    14,567
    2,230
    376
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    You can use the crate, you just need to surround it so there's no drafts, or push it against the wall and cover two sides a bit so they have a cozy place without drafts. I would move them to the coop when you are ready and feel comfortable doing so. I wouldn't keep them in tubs either, they would get too hot, as you chicks get past the first week or two they can handle a more open type of area.
     
  9. kylen2007

    kylen2007 Chillin' With My Peeps

    199
    7
    63
    Mar 18, 2015
    Ohio

    I usually have the heat lamp off by 3 weeks when they are in the tubs unless it is really cold. But they are also inside the house. I may look into building a brooder or getting something bigger. I really don't want my room smelling like a barn for 6 weeks. Lol. We do meat birds and turkwys too so having a larger brooder would be a nice investment.
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    19,682
    2,742
    456
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You can brood in the garage, it’s much better than in the house from a dust, noise, and possible smell standpoint. The more isolated they are the less likely you are to handle them.

    [​IMG]

    This is my brooder built into the coop. It has a plywood top that is a droppings board but the bottom and sides are hardware cloth. In the summer it’s kept pretty open but in the winter when it can be below freezing the sides are wrapped pretty tightly with plastic. I drape the plastic to the ground to stop drafts and put a “floor” in the heated end to help keep the heat in. I have used a piece of plywood but wound up with a plastic floor tray for a dog crate and use that now. I only heat one end and don’t put a floor in the far end. Some mornings there is ice in the far end but the heated end stays toasty. There is enough ventilation up high by my imperfect fit of that plastic wrap so the ammonia can escape, plus if it stays dry there just isn’t any ammonia generated. Since it is heated frostbite isn’t an issue.

    One of the problems you face brooding outside or even in your unheated garage is that the daily highs and lows can vary quite a bit. It’s really difficult to maintain a constant temperature. With a large brooder that’s not an issue at all. Just keep one end warm enough at the coldest temperatures, maybe even a bit too warm. Keep the far end cool enough in the warmest temperatures. Even straight out of the incubator mine are really good at self-regulating temperature themselves. Your goal is to give them a place to warm up when they need to but also give them a place to cool off if they need to.

    There are all kinds of ways to provide that warm spot. I use heat lamps, others use heating pads, ceramic heaters or emitters, maybe a hover, just all kinds of ways. A hover is a shallow inverted box set up just high enough for the chicks to go under. It traps their body heat plus you normally provide a low level of heat in really cold weather so they can stay warm. Like the heating pad cave, people are often surprised to see them spend more time on top of it than under it. They really can handle the cold pretty well.

    You mentioned it gets in the 20’s. Water can freeze at that temperature. I suspect that is outside temperature, not what you are seeing in your garage so it’s irrelevant. It’s what is in your garage that’s important. Yes, when you open the door to take your car in or out, assuming you do that, it’s not likely to get cold enough in there for water to freeze. Still, for those brooding where it is below freezing around the brooder, and that might be you, think about how you keep water thawed. I just use a shallow bowl filled with rocks to keep them from drowning when they walk in it (they will walk in it) and set that in the warm zone. Not directly under the heat but close enough so that it doesn’t freeze. With some other methods you may need to do something special to keep the water thawed. People do it all the time in their coops in winter s it’s just something to think about.

    Good luck!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by