can a brooder box be too big?


In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 14, 2013
Dakota County, MN
hi, im new to this raising chickens thing, but am very excited. i have alot of questions and am worried i might be doing it wrong. any ideas or advice would be greatly just going to start with 4-6 chicks.i live in minnesota, so winters are long. what are some breeds that are hardy enough. i just built a brooding box out of plywood, its almost 4 foot by 4 foot and 2 feet high, i put a removeable partition to cut down size in the begining. is that too big for a small flock? i can reuse it for future birds. the coop is almost done and is 5 feet by 8 feet and 6 feet tall. plan on having 3 nesting boxes and 1 openable window, the roof overhangs will be just chicken wire for cross ventilation. in the future i wanted to plan for maybe 10-12 chickens. im i planning this o.k? also, i want alot of diverisity with the flock. is it a bad idea to get 1 chick of each breed or should i get pairs ? will they fight? thinking 1 silkie, 1easter egger, 1 barred rock, and 1 leghorn. im sure everything will be o.k, but im still very nervous.
Your plans sound good to me! Nothing wrong in having one of each. On the brooder box: I had 6 chicks in a box a little bit bigger than yours. They did fine! They enjoyed running around and getting out of my reach! My box was elevated so that I didn't have to bend over (a perk that old age demands!), so I approached them from the side through 2 doors that I had made there and since my arms aren't 4 ft long, they could go in the farthest corner and I could not reach them. So for my next brood (12 chicks) I have built a temp wall about 2.5 ft in so that I can reach everywhere. But that's more for my convenience than that it is necessary for the chicks.

As long as they have a warm place with a heatlamp and a cooler place to go to when it's too warm under the lamp they'll be fine. Observe them and they'll tell you if they are comfortable or not. It's easy to tell a content chick from a discontented one, they don't hesitate to let you know, lol.

Your coop plan sounds great too. Make sure that all openings are covered with hardware cloth in stead of chicken wire, this goes for the window, and the ventilation areas. Otherwise it's too easy for predators to get in. The usual standard is 4 sq ft of space for each adult chicken so 5x8 should be fine for 10-12 birds. If they have to be inside the coop a lot during the winter, you may want to think about a (partially) covered run where they can go outside without having to deal with snow (chickens don't like snow). If they have to be inside a lot during the winter, plan on having fewer birds because overcrowding in these circumstances may invite pecking and fighting.
In my experience, the bigger the better. You could probably even put them directly in the coop if you wanted to. Just make sure they have SOME sort of heat (like a heat lamp). A bigger box simply means they can come and go from the warm spot as they please. Just don't put food and water too far away from the heat lamp, but don't put it directly underneath it either. You don't want them to drink boiling water or eat sizzling food, or spend forever in the cooler areas just trying to find it.
just wanted to weigh in on breeds - I got red stars and black stars, austrlorps, anconas and one golden polish.
we live in alaska and its still fairly chilly here. The first batch, we lost half the chicks. The golden polish died right away, most of the australorps, a few reds and a couple black.
The Anconas... They all survived. They are the tightest little bunch of fighters! The black stars are pretty hardy seeming too. They came out of the box busying with energy and pecking for food.
Mind you, this is the first time I've had chickens of my own. Just giving my two vents on the breeds I chose :)
Thanks. I would hate to loose most or even all my chicks next winter because I didnt do my research. Im sure I'll have alot more Questions and after I get established I can give newbies advice.
Our brooder is bigger than that at about 4x6'. It started out only about 8" high, but has layers we can add and is now about 24". We just had 3 chicks in it with the heat lamp close to the roof (a wooden frame with chicken wire) and they were all fine. The temp stayed nice and warm and they never complained.
I know what you mean about choosing quantity of breeds. this is my first time and I wanted to try out a few to see whom I preferred, but also wanted enough of each breed to serve its purpose (egg laying) if I only ended up with one good breed.

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