Brooding baby chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by horsethrill, Dec 27, 2016.

  1. horsethrill

    horsethrill New Egg

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    I have an order of 18 baby chicks coming in a couple weeks. 14 of them are silkies, 2 silver laced wyandottes, and 2 blue copper marans. I've got a brooder that I'm working to complete that will be staying in an outside building. I live in VA, where it gets pretty **** cold. I anticipate several nights being below freezing point. I've got a sweeter heater that I'll install in the brooder and keep there for maybe two weeks until they get too big for the brooder. While they won't be exposed to a draft, I'm concerned about them getting cold. I was thinking I could put another infrared heater in the building somewhat near the brooder to take the chill out of the air. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Bringing them into the house is not an option at this point. Thanks!
     
  2. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    Hi,
    Put a cover over the 1/2 of the brooder at the end which the Sweeter Heater isn't. That will help to hold in some fo the warmth. It's 46 here in Ligonier PA 15658 today in western PA. What a great winter, I love it. Yesterday it was 65 degrees, even at 10pm at night!
    How big is the brooder? You need 1/2 sq. ft. per chick till 2 weeks old. Then 1 sq. ft. per chick till 4 weeks old.
    Ok this is gona sound wierd...but since you are using a sweeter heater and no fear of fire...how about getting a small pop-up tent and setting the brooder inside it to minimize drafts? The tent will breath and you could open and close the zipped door as needed. or never close it at all? It's a "drafts" thing.
    Best Success,
    Karen
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  3. horsethrill

    horsethrill New Egg

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    I read a lot of good reviews on the sweeter heater that it was a lot less of a risk of fire than a heat lamp. The brooder is an old stereo cabinet that I gutted. It's about 1 1/2 feet wide and 4 feet long. This will be temporary until I set up more space inside the same building by setting up an enclosed portion of the building for them. There shouldn't be any drafts coming into the building but it just gets super cold at night. The weather here has been wonky but I'm anticipating it getting much colder in the next few weeks. Thanks!
     
  4. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    maybe not such a good idea about the tent. It has Teflon or PFC's in the waterproofing , I worry they might outgass PFC's or carbon monoxide if they get warm for a long period of time. need more research on this angle. I know Teflon coated light bulbs will outgas Co2 and kill poultry of any age.
    Here's some thoughts on the subject, just a quick search, I should go deeper and find out more ( the URL's are at the top of this post):
     
  5. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    maybe not such a good idea about the tent. If it has Teflon or PFC's in the waterproofing , I worry they might outgass PFC's or carbon monoxide if they get warm for a long period of time. need more research on this angle. I know Teflon coated light bulbs will outgas Co2 and kill poultry of any age.
    Here's some thoughts on the subject, just a quick search, I should go deeper and find out more ( the URL's are at the top of this post):
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  6. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    ok, that's 6 sq. ft. and small for your number of chicks. But most are silkies so they may not need as much space as the large fowl chicks. One thing you can do to make more floor space is to put the feeder on the wall. Take a piece of rain gutter and cut to fit a side of the brooder. horizontally. Cap both ends. Mount to wall so it can be raised as the chicks grow. The feeder should be at the height of the chick's back. That should free up about 1 sq. ft. of floor space.
    Best,
    Karen
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  7. horsethrill

    horsethrill New Egg

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    Luckily I don't have a tent that I could use for that anyway. lol.
     
  8. horsethrill

    horsethrill New Egg

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    Great idea! I'll have to do that! Thanks!
     
  9. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    keep checking back on this thread. it is early in the day yet and folk should be weighing in all day long with ideas.
    Enjoy your birds!
    karen
     
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  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I had to look up the Sweeter Heater, I had no idea what it was. It has possibilities.

    I brood in my coop with this brooder and use heat lamps. In the winter it can get down into single digits. I’m not trying to tell you that you have to use heat lamps, just mentioning that I have some experience brooding in cold weather. In the winter I wrap this with plastic to help hold in heat but there is plenty of good ventilation provided by that “chimney” off to the left where the heat lamp is.

    [​IMG]

    I think you may be building the wrong kind of brooder but I don’t know what that outside building looks like, how big it is or what it looks like inside. Apparently it has electricity. I can understand you wanting to repurpose something but that has a limited life. You might be better off going to something longer lasting. Is your coop finished and have electricity? Do you have adult birds? Can you brood directly in your coop?

    My first thought is to build a hover. You can do an online search for “hover” and get plans and maybe drawings or photos, but the basic idea is that you build a shallow box with the bottom open. Hot air gets trapped underneath. Hovers were promoted in WWII as an energy efficient way to raise large numbers of chicks. They used heat lamps then but your Sweeter Heater should work fine for a heat source. I assume you can adjust the temperature on yours?

    My second thought is to build something like a heating pad cave that @Blooie promotes but using your Sweeter Heater instead of a heating pad. Search for one of her posts and look for links in her signature. It has some similarity to the hover, especially if you have a bit of lip hanging down on the open side to trap air, but instead of being open all around it is closed on two or three sides. With it closed on three sides to block wind, some people use them in fairly exposed locations in winter.

    Both of these will require some trial and error. You want them to stay warm enough in the coolest weather but you don’t want to cook your chicks. I don’t have the personal experience with either of these methods to tell you how to tweak them, but Blooie or some others may be able to help you with that.

    To me the basic idea for brooding outside is to have one area warm enough in the coldest temperatures and another area cool enough in the warmest temperatures. With the temperature swings you experience out of doors you cannot keep the entire brooder some perfect temperature, but you don’t need to. Most of the time my chicks straight out of the incubator spend almost all their time in the heated area the first couple of days, but before long they venture more and more into the cooler areas, coming back to warm up when they need to. Mine are great at self-regulating temperatures as long as they have a choice.

    One issue you might have is keeping water thawed for them. I solve that problem by putting my water in the area heated by my heat lamps, but not right under them where it gets too hot. Again I have no experience using other methods but others have solved that problem. It might be something worth chatting about with them.

    Your 1-1/2 x 4 isn’t a horrible size for the first couple of weeks but they grow pretty fast. Brooding out of doors I like having good ventilation and plenty of room for them to get away from the heat if they need to. It you are determined to use that cabinet, maybe think I terms of coop and run for your set-up. Use that cabinet as a place they can go to warm up (the coop) and have extra space outside they can go to if they get too hot (the run). If it’s just a warm place to go and they have plenty of room outside that might be enough to last until they don’t need any heat.

    That’s what I mean by wrong type of brooder. Brooding outside with those temperature swings that cabinet by itself is probably too enclosed, it would be easy to cook your chicks no matter kind of heat source you use. But you have options and you certainly can manage.

    Good luck!
     
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