Brooders and cats, plastic tote?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by la dee da, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. la dee da

    la dee da Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello everyone! We have 5 chickens, 1 awesome rooster and 4 hens, however we want to add 12-15 layers to the flock. We do not have a brooder as we got all of the chickens as adults. I was planning on trying to get 6-8 week old chickens when the temperature is warmer and just putting them out in the coop right away, avoiding the need for a brooder altogether. My dad recently informed me that he'd like to try meat chickens, which of course requires a brooder.

    We have 5 cats, 2 of which are let into the main part of the house anytime they want and one lives in the main part of the house. The oldest of the cats is a proven hunter. I also have a mentally impaired sister and I have no doubt there'd be an accident if the only thing between the chicks and cats is a door. This is why I'm thinking a plastic tote would be best. I was thinking of cutting a large hole in the lid and attaching hardware cloth to it for ventilation, however this brings about another problem: the heat lamp.

    I've no clue where to start looking or what to get. It's near impossible to get a normal light bulb of decent wattage because of the new mercury ones and even then how would I keep the cats from knocking it down? I heard actual heat lamps are 250 watts and that is wayyyy to hot, and would probably melt the tote. I am so frustrated with trying to figure this out that I almost want to just give up.

    Oh yes, I almost forgot. There is no electricity in the coop so we can't put it there and frankly the idea of having it way out there with no supervision scares me as the bedding can easily catch fire. We also can't put it in the garage because it's far to crowded and besides that it smells terribly and always has mice.
    I need suggestions and opinions please.
     
  2. LaynaDon95

    LaynaDon95 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have no idea what wattage my heat lamp is. We have an old heat lamp that looks like this http://www.cnpower-cord.com/products/lau05-portable-luminaires-682089.html just older and really worn. It had a heat bulb in it already and the wattage written on the side was rubbed off. What I did is tied a strong string to the clamp, hung a hook from the ceiling, ran the string up into the hook and tied it the a bookshelf sitting next to the brooder. This way it's easily adjustable. All I have to do is untie it from the bookshelf and raise/lower it to adjust the temp. I started it out pretty high (before my chicks hatched) and lowered it until the thermometer read 90 degrees. This way the wattage doesn't matter, and cats can't knock it down.
     
  3. la dee da

    la dee da Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Would it be really bad if the cats made it swing?
     
  4. LaynaDon95

    LaynaDon95 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I wouldn't think so. It'll settle back down.
     
  5. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    I have a few totes that I use as brooders.. I made the entire top out of hardware cloth.. allows for plenty of ventilation and our cats will lay on top of them (the cats in the house are too lazy to chase after anything.. mainly they just want a warm place to lay for their naps).
     
  6. EmAbTo48

    EmAbTo48 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have done the plastic totes it only worked if the heat lamp was far enough away from the sides otherwise yes I have come home to a few sides melting so I do not use them at all anymore.

    How many meat birds you talking about? I usually buy our meat birds around May, yes its the hottest time of year but our coop outside has a large fan inside it and is shaded never had a problem. We get around 30 meat chicks and I have them in our barn in a large water trough like this one:
    [​IMG]
    We hang the heat lamp above for them and they have the feeder/waters at about a month or 6 weeks I move them to there coop and they are fine.

    Now if your getting them now in winter this is my set up for a brooder in the house I usually only have 10 chicks (I think you could probably fit about 15-20 chick) in it for the first month or less and then they are moved out to the barn into the metal trough:

    [​IMG]

    They are in a large rubber tub that I bought at tractor supply for 29 bucks its the largest one they had there I had orginally bought it for my ducks for a small pond but its to high for them to get into.... . It works great lol the only reason the chicks are all huddled to the one side is because of me lol!
     
  7. EmAbTo48

    EmAbTo48 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was going to say also to check out the brooder threads with pictures people have come up with some awesome neat brooders that might help you out more!
     
  8. la dee da

    la dee da Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Eek! I sure hope the cats don't lay on top, mine weighs about 15 pounds! We were thinking of starting with 6 meat chicks, just to get our feet wet and see if we like it. After that probably about 10 at a time, so I don't need a HUGE brooder. The metal water trough is an interesting idea, though it's probably really expensive. How high would the brooder have to be to keep the chicks from being too tall for it? Would a rubber brooder be better then plastic?
     
  9. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    if you don't have anything around that you can hang a light from you can zip tie it to the underside of the hardware cloth and feed the cord out through either a hole drilled through the plastic (careful.. those totes are easy to crack) or just have the cord snake out under the lid.. since I use hardware cloth as a lid I have it bent over the sides by several inches.. I zip tie the light to the underside of the hardware cloth and can raise it or lower it as I see fit (though that usually entails cutting the old zip tie and using a new one).. one of our cats is around 15 pounds (well.. he was the last time he was at the vet which was about 8 months ago.. he's probably heavier now).. he did dent the hardware cloth.. but other than that he's never fallen through!.. i think since I have mine bent over the edges by a few inches all the way around it helps with his weight

    I have my brooders in the house.. so I just use a regular 40 or 60 watt bulb depending on how chilly the house is
     
  10. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I think you need to rethink the idea of brooding meat chicks in the house.
    Even if you start with six, in a plastic tote they're going to outgrow it in about two weeks. Then you need someplace else to put them. I also can't imagine brooding meaties in the house due to the large amount of poo they make. You'd be talking serious odor.

    I also did mine in a galvanized steel trough, it worked well for about three weeks, then I threw them in with my layers. It was early summer and the weather was warm enough. I had ten and in three weeks they really needed out of that trough. You almost can't imagine how fast they grow.

    I'm not sure what the correct answer is for you given your constraints, but I think it might just be best to go with started birds and skip the meaties until you have a more appropriate set up.
     

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