After threatening to raise chickens for a couple years now, I bought 6 chicks from TSC yesterday. (very helpful staff by the way considering all the bad things I've read on here) Been lurking here for quite some time. Have even read the more popular books on raising chickens. But now that I have them I believe I'm making this harder than it needs to be. So I have some brooder questions that I can't find the answer for in a search. Right now the chicks are in a box (labeled Eggs, no less ) in the pole barn. They are warm, happy and have everything they need, but not to say is was an easy process on my part. Last night I kept checking on things to make sure the the temp stayed just right, but as the temp in the barn dropped I had to keep modifying how close the lamp (reflective with 100w bulb) was, adding cover to the box etc. Didn't want them to get cold and I wanted make sure I wasn't going to wake up to roasted chickens either. The plan was/is to make a brooder that will keep the birds until they are ready live in the coop full time. I was thinking of making something out of plywood that will be expandable length wise as the birds get bigger. So here's the first question to all this. For 6 birds, a mix of Ameraucana's, Buff Orpington's, and Barred Rock's what is the minimum sq ft size I can get away with so the birds will still be comfortable at their largest during this period? Second question, Once I get my brooder made and get a radiant heat bulb. Will they still be able to stay warm enough under the heat lamp, with essentially an open top brooder, in a unheated barn with spring temps fluctuating here in Michigan? I'd like to bring them in the house but I'm just asking for trouble with the dog no matter how secure.