Brooder size for 20 chicks? Advice needed!

Feb 4, 2020
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I'll be getting 20 LF chicks next week. They are a mix of Australorps, Barred Rocks, White Rocks and Easter Eggers. My brooder set up is a large plastic tote that measures approximately 3 ft x 1 1/2 ft. Would this be a sufficient size to brood the chicks in? And if so, how long would they theoretically be able to stay in there before being over crowded? Thanks!
 

ChickenCanoe

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Realistically, it would only be enough space for 2 weeks at most. What is the ambient outdoor temperature where you live?
0.5 sq. ft. per bird is only sufficient for the first week. You have 20 birds in less space than that.
If you must keep them inside, rather than outside in a coop, I wouldn't use a plastic tote. I prefer large cardboard moving boxes from Lowe's that are about $1.50 each and you can continually add them cutting doorways between till you are able to move outdoors.
 

ChickenCanoe

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If it isn't extremely cold where you live, they don't need to be in there 8 weeks unless you don't have your coop built.
What part of the world do you live in?
If you have electricity to your coop, you could move them out when you get them.
They would need 2.5 sq. ft. per bird to be in there for 8 weeks. I wouldn't try to create a 30 sq. ft. brooder in the house.
 
Feb 4, 2020
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Indiana
Thank you so much for the feedback! Based on your suggestions, I’ve decided to use a freezer box instead of the plastic tote. This will give me about 7 sq. ft of space. And as you said can be added to, if needed. My larger coop should be done in 2-3 weeks, so should be good timing to move them out. I thought they had to remain indoors for 8 weeks, but I guess that’s just in cold climates. It’s been in the 70’s-80’s where I live so they should be fine outside as soon as the coop is done.
 

ChickenCanoe

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In those temps, they'll be able to go out in 2-3 weeks.
I've had hens raise chicks below freezing outdoors.
I've raised chicks under an Ohio type hover brooder when it was as low as the 30s F in the building.
Chicks just aren't that fragile.
 

rosemarythyme

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Getting the coop done and getting them out there ASAP will be your best bet. The freezer box should work well for a few weeks, much better than the tote.
 

ChickenCanoe

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Thank you so much for the feedback! Based on your suggestions, I’ve decided to use a freezer box instead of the plastic tote. This will give me about 7 sq. ft of space. And as you said can be added to, if needed. My larger coop should be done in 2-3 weeks, so should be good timing to move them out. I thought they had to remain indoors for 8 weeks, but I guess that’s just in cold climates. It’s been in the 70’s-80’s where I live so they should be fine outside as soon as the coop is done.
I'm sorry I ever bought a huge plastic tote. It wasn't cheap and I've never used it for chicks even though that was the intent.
 

NatJ

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At maturity, figure 4 square feet per chicken (that matters for building your coop).
At 8 weeks, figure 2 square feet per chicken.

I think your best bet is to build the coop and move them outside quickly :)

Make sure the brooder has a warm end and a cool end all the time--having access to cooler space helps them grow feathers faster and be ready to move outside sooner, and also seems to help them be healthier. It's best if the "cool" end is room temperature (or whatever the outside temperature is.)
 

MANNA-PRO

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