brooding box for 4 chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Missbehavin, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. Missbehavin

    Missbehavin Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 15, 2011
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    Hi, was planning on getting four chicks in Late Sept early Oct. I live in Central Texas and am expecting the temp to be in the low 80's at night and 90's during the day. It's been hot. My question is with that temp is it necessary to have a heat lamp. Can it acually get to hot? and how do you keep the temp constant if it has to stay a certain temp. How long do you have to do this? Also I will start building a box for them this weekend. With 4 chicks how big does the box have to be and what Do I feed them.
    Sorry for all the questions, just don't want anyone to die. I already have names for them.[​IMG]
    Thanks in advance
    Debbie from texas
     
  2. pixiechick44

    pixiechick44 Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 1, 2011
    Hi there Debbie....Well I got 4 chicks in June,I kept them in my spare room up stairs.I had the air conditioning on,so its easy to keep the temp constant...I used a red heat lamp attached to a ladder over a card board box.....I didnt build a brooder box because they grow so fast....I just kept getting bigger boxes..You start of with the temp at 90 degrees and lower it by 5 degrees aweek,do this for 3/4 weeks....I fed mine medicated chick starter,which they are still on....I will put them on grower soon,mine are 10 weeks old now,and huge....Hope this is of help...good luck....Debbie....Michagan...[​IMG]
     
  3. Missbehavin

    Missbehavin Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 15, 2011
    Texas
    Thanks Pixiechick that really helps. How do you keep the temp? Just a regular themometer? Can I handle them? There will be nobody else in the big coop so once they get their feathers in can I graduate them there? I am assuming grower is the next step in food? About at 12 wks? Thanks
    Debbie
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Northwest Arkansas
    Yeah, I'd go crazy trying to keep the entire brooder one specific temperature, especially if it is outside (which mine is). The way I get around that is to make a fairly good sized brooder with a whole lot of ventilation up top but with a draft guard where they are, heat one area to the right temperature, and let the rest cool off as it will. Often in the spring, that means the far corners are 20 to 30 degrees below the "recommended" temperatures. Mine roam all over the brooder, going back to the heat when they need to. You'd be surprised has seldom that really is. Let them find their own comfort zone.

    They can definitely get too hot. They can handle being a bit too cool a lot better than being too warm.

    At what temperatures is it necessary to have a heat lamp? You only have four chicks. They don't have the ability to huddle up and keep each other warm like 15 or 20 chicks would, so you probably have to watch the temperatures a bit more than I would, since I usually brood a lot more than four. I'll give you a very safe chart. If you follow this you will not have a problem. I'll tell you right now many of us violate this and do fine. They are a lot tougher than many people think. But for someone starting out and not having experience, it is usually good to have some guidelines.

    1st week - 0 to 7 days old - 90 to 95 degrees
    2nd week -8 to 14 days old - 85 to 90 degrees
    3rd week - 15 to 21 days old - 80 to 85 degrees
    4th week - 22 to 28 days old - 75 to 80 degrees
    5th week - 29 to 35 days old - 70 to 75 degrees

    Usually, by the time they are 4 to 5 weeks old they have feathered out enough that they really don't need any suplemental heat regardless of your climate, unless you are somewhere that is really extreme.

    What do you feed them? That kind of depends on what is available at the feed store. The normal rotation is 22% to 24% Starter for the first 4 to 8 weeks, 16% Grower from whenever you stop the Starter, then 16% Layer when they start to lay or 20 weeks. You'll see a lot of different recommendations, but it doesn't matter that much about when you switch from Starter to Grower. Whenever the Starter runs out after four weeks is great. The percents show the percent of protein in the feed.

    But not all of us can get Starter. My option is a combined 20% Starter/Grower. You can feed that from Day 1 until you switch to Layer.

    Some people feed a 20% Flock Raiser from Day 1. This is sort of formulated for a mixed flock, where some are going to be layers and some will be processed for meat, but it works well for just a flock that will be a laying flock.

    There are other options, but this is probably enough. The only real rule is to not feed Layer until they are ready for it. Layer has a high calcium content for the egg shells. High calcium can harm growing chicks, so you don't want to feed that too soon. Otherwise, almost anything goes.

    There are some feeds of higher protein content meant for game birds, not chickens. Look on the bag to see what it is recommended for. You have a lot of room in how much protein they eat and are still OK, but I don't like giving them too high a protein content feed. Too much of a good thing is often not a good thing.

    Then you have the question of medicated feed. The medicated feed is intended to reduce the possibility of them getting sick from Coccidiosis. For most of us, I think it is unnecessary in the brooder. They are not usually exposed to the protozoa that causes Coccidiosis while in the brooder. That first exposure comes when they first hit the ground. If you take them out of the brooder and let them play outside, then they are possibly exposed. But even then, you can usually manage Cocci by keeping the brooder dry. There are some people with a history of Cocci where medicated feed is important. There is nothing wrong with feeding medicated feed. If you want to, go ahead. But if you have trouble finding it or decide you don't need it, don't panic. Just watch your chicks for signs of Cocci and go from there.

    I know this is long, but you asked some pretty good questions. Good luck and welcome to the adventure.
     
  5. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 4, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Yup, pretty much what Ridgerunner said. You really don't want your whole brooder box to be one constant temperature, cause if that temperature is too hot they can't get away from it. You really want to have a cosy hotspot under a lamp, and cooler spots so they can choose for themselves what temperature they like. Until they're a week or so old I think it's best not to have a really huge brooder, cause sometimes they get lost and can't find their way back under the heat (silly birdbrains!) so I like to start out with a smaller cardboard box and then move them into a bigger one after the first week. If you already have a huge brooder, you can section a bit of it off with cardboard panels for a few days if you wanted to.

    I feed unmedicated chick crumbs until 6-8 weeks then switch to grower till, well, till they're finished growing! Usually around 24-26 weeks. But if I had a breed that was quick to mature and/or a couple of birds that started laying early, I'd swap them onto layer as soon as I found the first egg. Good luck with your chicks!
     
  6. pixiechick44

    pixiechick44 Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 1, 2011
    Hey there again...I got a thermometer from Tractor Supply..specialy made for the brooder.I handled mine all the time,now they are really friendly....My box was also big enougth for theem to get away from the heat if they wanted too.....debbies [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2011

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