Brooder Size

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by kicknchicken, Feb 7, 2014.

  1. kicknchicken

    kicknchicken Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 7, 2014
    Hello, first thanks everyone for all the useful information on the site. I am looking to start raising some chickens with a friend. We are looking to get between 40 to 50 chickens. Based on the information I have read I think we will get a mix of Plymouth White Rock and Buff Orpington. We will probably butcher 2/3 and raise the rest for eggs.

    So, my question is, how large does a brooder need to be to house 40 to 50.chicks? Plan on keeping this in my garage with lights for heat until they are ready to be moved outside. Is there a good number to calculate space for brooders? Thanks for your help in advance.
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    You'll need at least 1 sq. foot per chick. They grow very fast.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    How long do you plan to keep them in the brooder? What is the sex mix?

    I kept 28 chicks (all full sized fowl like yours), 5 cockerels and 23 pullets in a 3’x5’ brooder until they were about 4-1/2 weeks old. They were getting a little crowded but I did not see any behavioral problems. I kept 21 chicks, 17 cockerels and 4 pullets in that same brooder for the same time span. I still did not see any behavioral problems but they were getting more crowded than the other group. Those 21 were ready to come out. Cockerels do grow faster than pullets and are usually more active.
    Something else to consider is that the more chickens you have the less room per chicken you need. The numbers I’m going to use are not realistic. I’m using whole numbers to make the math easy, and besides, the chicks do grow very fast.

    Assume the chick occupies 1 square foot in the brooder and you give 4 square foot for each chick. If you have 4 chicks, they occupy 4 square feet but have a total of 16 square feet, so they have 12 square feet unoccupied that they could explore.

    Now assume you have 40 chicks, still with 4 square feet per chick. Those chicks would occupy 40 square feet but have 120 square feet not occupied to explore. Obviously 40 chicks would need more than 12 unoccupied square feet to explore, but maybe you get my drift.

    With all that said, they do grow very fast. They can be fine one week and really crowded the next. Sometimes things happen so you can’t move them out when planned. I’ve never heard anyone complain about having too much room in a brooder, coop, or run. I have heard many complaints about not having enough space, so err on the side of extra room.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Most folks don't put them outside until about 6 weeks, and at that point they're needing 2 square feet each.

    Something else to think of, if you're planning to butcher say 20-30 dual purpose birds, do you have freezer space for that much meat, or alternative preservation like canning? That many birds is going to take up a lot of space, not just in a brooder. You'll also need a lot of coop space, and run space for that many birds.
    1 person likes this.
  5. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2013
    Can they go outside at six weeks if it's still cold out? Just during the day and bring them in at night? With a heatlamp?
    I was thinking they would be inside for a much longer time, like 10-12 weeks.
  6. kicknchicken

    kicknchicken Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 7, 2014
    What I have read so far is 5 to 6 weeks before putting outside. We should be good on outside space. As for freezer space, I have thought about that. As I mentioned I will be splitting this work and rewards (butcher chickens). I personally have two deep freezers and he has one also. Worst case I could just give a few to family. Thanks.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    When they can go without heat depends on a few things. Obviously part of that is how cold it gets. Wet makes the cold even worse. A cool wind can be deadly.

    Part of it is how well acclimated are they. If they have been kept at tropical temperatures they won’t be as ready for the real world as if they had been allowed to play in some colder temperatures.

    Part of it is what kind of outside facilities are they going to. At night, when you normally have your cooler temperatures, do they have good draft protection where they are sleeping? Can they get out of rain and wind if they want to during the day.

    My 3’ x6’ brooder is in the coop. I heat one area and let the rest cool off. It has ventilation but in some weather more than in others. It has good draft protection. In a heat wave a couple of years ago I turned the daytime heat off on their second day out of the incubator. They did not need it. The nighttime heat was turned off at 5 days. In colder weather I’ve kept heat on them until 5 weeks, but then I moved them to an unheated grow-out coop with good draft protection. The overnight lows were in the mid 40’s. If they had not seen those temperatures in the brooder, they may have been in trouble, though they went through a low of the mid 20’s before they were 6 weeks old.

    There were 21 of them so that was enough to help keep each other warm so that’s another factor. There is no magic age when every chick is OK to go without heat. There are different factors involved.
  8. shellybelly

    shellybelly Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 25, 2014
    Lake Village IN
    Hey! New to chickens and I don't have a animal friendly garage, I was gonna use a 35gal plastic tote as a brooder in a spare room till they were big enough to go outside Yah or nah? I have 15chicks and a roo coming in May so there's still a bit of time, to find the right brooder. Any suggestions?
  9. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    It depends on the actual measurements of your tote, whether it's shallow or deep. Can't tell based only on 35 gallons. As mentioned above chicks need about a square foot of space per bird in the brooder to start out, so for 15 birds you'll need about that many square feet, more is always better. If your tote is too small you can try to get a large box, like an appliance (refrigerator size) or large melon box from the grocery store. Even a couple toilet tissue sized boxes will work, just cut the ends off and tape together to make one large box.

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