Brooder Questions (WITH PICS)

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by mbelim, Oct 4, 2015.

  1. mbelim

    mbelim Out Of The Brooder

    Hello good people,

    I have been laboring tirelessly to get my cage brooders in shape... I never realized there's so much of work involved and I am generally a couch potato lol.... I hate working!

    Anyway, so I finally moved out of my make shift brooder box with incandescent bulbs for heating....
    It was such a disaster raising chicks in there since they pooped so much and changing the water-er twice daily...


    So I moved into these cages as soon as I could....

    and then I connected ceramic heat bulbs overhead thinking that these were the best option.... I had burnt myself so many times... they heat up like a stove and I presume very dangerous


    And then I realized that the holes on the cages floors were too large for baby chicks,....... so I had this shade cloth sewn to size for my cages, with the idea of throwing Shavings on top

    Only to find out that once the chicks are in they kick most of the shavings out....

    So then I had placed all of my chicks in....




    Oh the disaster!!.... The naughty lil found a way to get through the net wire to visit their friends in the next cage. I separate them by age.
    They also started to jump into the feeding gutter...

    And after a lot of inquisitiveness.... they finally found the water source (nipple feeders)

    So I had to resort to the below sloppy fencing to disable them from exiting the cages...

    OK so some of the issues I need advice on possibly,

    1. Is it better for me to get infrared heating bulbs rather?
    2. Will the infrared bulbs hanging over head reach chicks on the bottom cages? (I still have to make the bottom cages suitable for chicks)
    3. If not, how to I get heat to the bottom cages?
    4. Its summer time here in SA, so the day temperatures are very very high. How do i regulate the cage heaters?
    5. What is the best temperature for chicks aged 1 day to 4 weeks old.... I have them in separate cages.
    6. How many chicks per cm is recommended? I find many of them dead and trampled upon on a daily basis.
    7. How do I prevent the shavings from falling out of the cage? I want to sell the shavings as Chicken litter (manure)
    8. and lastly, please advice on how to administer the following inoculations

  2. nursesusanb

    nursesusanb Out Of The Brooder

    May 9, 2015
    Your chicks are over crowded. They need about 1/2 to 1 sq foot the first few weeks, needing more than that fairly quickly. I don't think the heat will get to the lower cages if placed above the top cages, at least not enough.

    I am sure others with more experience will have more advice.
  3. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Your coop resembles a commercial poultry barn. My uncle had one, chicks crowded into every square meter of floor space, resulting in a stench you can't believe as well as many injuries and death. He didn't seem to care. He nor any of my five cousins viewed chickens as anything other than so many inches of meat to be grown.

    Even a commercial operation ought to have indoor and outdoor space for chicks to grow and flex their little wings as they grow. There shouldn't need to be any deaths. You have naturally warm temps so you could get rid of those shelves, let the chicks wander the entire floor area and open the shed to an out door pen where they could wander during the warm daytime temps.

    Chicks aren't hothouse plants that need to be grown under hot lights. They will move in and out of a heated zone if they need to warm up, including coming back inside the shed after going outside to play. They are not exactly dumb animals. I would lower the heat lamps and permit the chicks to wander freely. Those needing more heat will congregate underneath. Having all the chicks within four weeks of age shouldn't pose a problem as long as they have plenty of space.

    As far as those medications, you should follow the directions that come with them, although most of us don't bother with medications like those, instead relying on good brooding conditions so the chicks stay and grow healthy.
  4. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    I guess I'm not sure what your goal is here. Are you trying to raise chicks for commercial purposes, for instance for selling them? If you are, I must be frank and tell you that if I was looking for chicks and saw this set up I would run the other way. No natural light, no grass under their feet, no fresh air, and horribly overcrowded. They aren't animals that naturally take well to caging that way. It's not healthy and certainly not comfortable for them. Healthy chicks wander away from the mass of chicks in small groups, exploring their surroundings and dashing back for a quick warm up if they need to. Yours can't do that. Healthy chicks scratch in the ground or on the floor of their brooder learning to look for tasty things to eat. Yours are going to end up with more foot problems than you can handle, I think.

    I know you mean well, and I hate throwing cold water on your plan. It's obvious that you honestly thought this was the best way to house that many chicks. But you have a lot of chicks there and you seem to just acknowledge that every day you are going to go out and find more dead. That should be totally unacceptable to you and if you want to stop it you need to rethink your program here. I can't even imagine how you would clean up after them.

    How do you house the adults you have, if any? Are they in a coop with a run or able to free range during the day? Chicks need that too. Please take a look at this and see how chicks can be raised outside in the fresh air, without glaring lights on them all of the time and with natural footing.

    I don't think you would need a heating pad, or even ceramic lights there where you are in South Africa. You could put in one heat source at the far end of an outdoor, open brooder and they would warm up on an "as needed" basis, spending the rest of their time running around learning to be chickens. As for the vaccines, as @azygous pointed out, most of us don't use them. Doesn't seem to make much sense to vaccinate them for stuff that could have been prevented by just letting them be chicks in more natural housing. But if you are going to use them, follow the directions carefully.
  5. bruceha2000

    bruceha2000 True BYC Addict Premium Member

    Apr 19, 2012
    NW Vermont
    You are making it MUCH more work than it should be. And if you think the chicks are over crowded now, wait a week.

    I suggest you get rid of the cages all together. In the USA the only chickens that are caged are those in huge factory egg farms. I don't know if the chicks are raised in cages or they are put there only when they are ready to lay. Meat chickens are never caged.

    Your current Fahrenheit temps are mid to high 50s at night, high 60's to 70s during the day. As others said, put heat in one location and let the birds decide how much they need and when.
    Put the food in hanging feeders so they don't kick litter into them.
    Same with the water - saddle nipples in suspended pipe or "push/screw" in ones in buckets.
  6. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    Why on earth are you keeping them in cages, when you have so much floor space for them in that building? You have way too many chicks crammed in those cages. They need room to move about. You can't cram them into tiny cages without a way to escape the heat source and expect them to thrive. Set a few feeders and waterers on the floor of that coop, hang a few heat lamps and call it done. They'll be able to regulate their heat needs better, and you won't lose any more due to trampling.
  7. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    western PA
    My Coop
    You have a really nice set up, it's just organized wrong. I can see you put a lot of thought into it. Ok, lose the cages. Make sure the building is snake and predator proof. Small weasels and such. Put a couple of inches of chips on the floor. Switch back to 85 watt incandescent bulbs set in hoods as seen here:*Version*=1&*entries*=0 The hood keeps dirt and down from landing on the bulb. The wire guard keeps chicks from bumping the bulb and breaking it.
    Lower the bulbs until they are a couple of feet from the floor. Like the others said, raised water and heaters. How large is this building? ? You need 1 sq. ft per chick to start.
    Another thing...have one pair of boots just for entering the shed. Keep them in a sheltered place outside the shed. Change your shoes when you enter and leave. The outside shoes should not enter the shed and the shed inside shoes should not touch the outside ground. This is biosecurity to keep outside bacteria and sickness from coming inside the shed. Chicks are very good at figuring out how much heat they need. Right now, they need more space.
    Here is a real good website which discusses some of the issues you are facing. Note the discussion on securing the heat lamps with zip ties and not trusting the clamps to keep them from falling.
    Best Regards,
    in western Pennsylvania, USA
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2015

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