brooder size question

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by lewlew, May 4, 2017.

  1. lewlew

    lewlew Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, so I have finally ordered my baby Chicks and they are due to arrive the week of May 15th. I have a total of 8 babies coming. The Coop and run is still being built, but I should have it finished soon. My question is about the brooder.

    I purchased a brooder kit from TSC.
    https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/p...-nursery-with-brooder-lamp-stand?cm_vc=-10005

    I am sure that will be fine for the week or so, but I am thinking it will be too small after the first few weeks.

    How big should the brooder be for 8 chicks? I can build one, I'm sure, but I don't know how big I should make it. I don't want to build one and it still be too small, nor to I want to go over-board either.
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Save your money. Return the "brooder kit" to TSC. You do not need anything it has, which would be inadequate as you are already realizing.

    Without an adult flock to complicate matters, and with a newly minted coop and run, you have the ideal brooder right there. Plenty of space and protection without the need for a small, confining brooder.

    Also, those heat lamps are a dangerous menace to chicks, humans, and structures. You don't need one. A safer means of heating chicks is a heating pad. You probably already have one in your house that would work as long as you can set it to remain in the "on" mode. See Blooie's thread "Mama heating Pad for the Brooder" to see how it's set up.

    It supplies all the heat chicks require without the dangers of burns, fire, and overheating issues associated with a heat lamp. The big advantages are the chicks will grow up where they will live, removing the stress of a later move, they will also feather out quicker and be more cold tolerant, and they will have natural day/night waking and sleep patterns, which also reduces stress as chicks develop.
     
  3. lewlew

    lewlew Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you! I already ordered the heating pad from Amazon (one that won't automatically shut off) and was going to use that instead of the lamp anyway. I may not have the coop completely finished by the time they arrive. I have it framed, I just need to get the walls and roof finished.. Hoping for better weather so I can get it finished! It's been storming almost every afternoon here. I don't get off work until 5pm each day and upstate SC has "afternoon thunder showers" almost everyday ugh... its crazy, they last for about 15 to 30 mins, but its enough to make going out afterwards to build anything suck cause everything is wet (electric power tools and water don't mix)hahaha

    I think I am just going to build a brooder, to put in the Garage to hold them for the first few weeks, that will give me time to get the coop and run finished, then move them outside once I get it finished.

    Do you think 3ft by 5ft would be big enough to hold them for a few weeks until I get the coop finished?

    That thing from TSC is tiny... I got it because it was on sale plus we had a $10 off coupon. Once I got it home and looked at it, I knew it wasn't going to work for long lol.
     
  4. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Overrun With Chickens

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    I wonder how a household heating pad covered in plastic can be immune to fires. I love the idea, but wouldn't trust leaving that on in my house. Just saying.
     
  5. Rickba

    Rickba Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Pa. I'm in Pa also, NW Pa, and they're calling for snow this weekend. What I use for a brooder is a small plastic 8$ anywhere swimming pool with chicken wire around it, a 5$ clamp type construction lamp, a 5$ feeder and 5$ waterer that uses a mason jar. Works great and easy to clean. Big enough that it will hold 'em 'til they are ready to go in the coop. So for 28$ I have a set up I can use over and over.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    One easy way to build a brooder in the garage, as long as it is a closed garage so it is predator proof, is to get a large box. An appliance box works great, if you need more space you can get another and tape them together. If you go to an appliance store they will probably give you a box or two. To avoid staining your garage floor, put something like cardboard down and cover that with bedding like wood shavings to give them good traction.

    I don’t know how big it has to be for eight chicks. Part of that is how old will they be before they go outside. I’ve kept 28 mostly pullets in a 3’ x 5’ brooder until they were five weeks old. I kept 21 mostly cockerels in that same brooder until they were also 5 weeks old. In both cases it was getting pretty crowded but I had no real issues. In South Carolina I’d expect you to be able to put the chicks out without any supplemental heat at 4 weeks in June, probably even younger.

    I’ve seen two week old chicks fly two feet vertical and 3 feet horizontal. You will probably want a top of some type on your brooder to keep them in. It doesn’t take much, a wire mesh or even netting top works well.

    What you need in your brooder is enough room for food, water, and that heating pad since that is what you are using. That’s for any brooder before you consider the age and number of chicks. The beauty of the cardboard box brooder is that if it gets too small, you just tape another box to it.

    Another approach would be to build a brooder that can be used for other things. I don’t know what your coop looks like or how much room you have, but if you made it big enough, maybe you could build a brooder with a hardware cloth floor that could later be hung on the wall of your coop as a broody buster. My brooder built permanently in the coop is 3’ x 6’. When I’m not brooding chicks in it, it works as a broody buster or a place to isolate a chicken if I need to. I let my broody hens hatch with the flock but you could isolate a broody in there if you wanted to. If the hardware cloth floor bothers you, cover it with something. One concern with a wire mesh floor is that some wire has sharp nubs on it from the manufacturing or galvanizing process. Those sharp nubs, if they are present, can chew up their feet. But those nubs should only be on one side. If you install the smooth side up you don’t have a problem.

    While I always like things bigger than the absolute minimum they have to be just to give you some flexibility, a 2’ x 4’ x 2’ high should work for most of these things and is a good use of an 8’ long piece of building material.

    Good luck, especially in getting that coop finished. I understand trying to get something done when you hold down a job and having to work outside, especially if you have kids.
     
  7. lewlew

    lewlew Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you all. I will start working on a Brooder tonight. I will probably have more questions too! lol
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Hey Cindy. Heating pads are designed to be left in contact with human skin. They are much safer than a heat lamp which, even with a lower wattage bulb can reach temperatures such that anything flammable that comes in contact with it can burst into flame. This includes: shavings, or what ever else is being used for bedding, chick dander. Chicks have been known to come in contact with them, and get burned. And those heat lamps can fall, contact with any surface will cause it to burn. Many of us brood chicks outside, which removes the house issue, but still, a heating pad is much safer no matter where it is being used.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Cindy, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are only about 8 deaths per year in the US caused by the heating pads. There are roughly 1600 burns treated per year because of them, most from the pad itself and not the fires they start. I’ll show a link to one of the places I got this information. I think most of what you find online goes back to the CPSC.

    http://thermo-pad.com/esafety.htm

    Considering the number of heating pads used and that a lot of them are used on the sick and elderly, I don’t think those statistics are that bad. As long as they are used correctly they are pretty safe. Blooie’s husband is a fire fighter and mentioned the dangers to her, she’s posted about them. That’s where I got the idea to look up the statistics. The largest danger he mentioned and what I’ve seen online tends to agree, the danger comes from older pads. The wires get brittle, break, and create a short. That can start a fire. Of course, with any electric device you have to pay attention to the cords running electricity to it, as Lewlew mentioned, water and electricity don’t mix well.

    Beekissed has used both systems, heat lamps and the electric pad. I haven’t, I’m set up to use heat lamps. Bee did a pretty good comparison of the two systems, advantages, disadvantages, and limitations of both. Like with any heating system, if they are set up properly they are pretty good and safe. If not set up properly, they don’t work well and can have risks.

    Lewlew, don’t let any of this scare you away from using that heating pad. You are obviously aware of the risks of water and electricity. I don’t know what size you got but it should handle 8 chicks easily. It’s new so you should not have to worry about broken wires shorting out. You got one that does not automatically shut off. Something to check, does it come back on automatically after a power outage. If your weather is anything like mine this time of the year with thunderstorms that might be a good thing to know. In my opinion that heating pad is a very safe and effective way for you to heat your chicks in that garage.

    Good luck!
     
  10. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Overrun With Chickens

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    I get it, but heating pads are not made to be on 24/7. I have used heating lamps for 24 years & while they scare me, I have never had a problem. Electric blankets are safe too, but I wouldn't run one 24/7. Would a heating mat for seed growing be safer? They are waterproof and meant to stay on continuously. Maybe they wouldn't be hot enough, but the ones I have used have been pretty warm. Just kicking things around. My chicks for this year are off their lamp & I won't be getting more for 2-3 years. I might try it the next time.
     

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