Can Someone "Approve" My Brooder Plans?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by AmyJane725, Feb 23, 2019.

  1. AmyJane725

    AmyJane725 Songster

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    Hey guys,

    Going to be getting baby chicks in the next few months, and I just want to be sure I'm doing everything right. I think the baby stage is the easiest, so I'll at least make sure I've got this part taken care of. I have a thread over in coop design trying to figure out what to do with them as adults, but in the meantime, here's what I've got:

    A cardboard box, 29.5 inches long x 17.5 inches wide x 20.5 inches deep. This comes out to 3.59 sqft. I have read that for the first month, chicks need 0.5 sqft each, so this means I could have 7 chicks? I'm still not totally settled on a number, but would I need to get a bigger box if I wanted 10, or would they probably be ok since it's just a few weeks? I don't want them to live in unfit conditions by any means. I want to do a good job.

    I have settled on the following for inside the box:

    - Pine shavings for bedding (is this the best, or would paper towels or something else be better? Just let me know)
    - Brooder Plate for heat & I was also considering buying the optional "comfort feathers" (10x10") https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DLFD6GY/?tag=backy-20
    - Port Feeder (9x9x9") https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D5L2T84/?tag=backy-20
    - Nipple Waterer though I'm undecided between these two. I'd kind of like to just buy the 5 gallon (15x12.1x12.1") because then I could continue to use it after they're adults (save some money), but it's bigger, so it would take up more space in the box. I should probably just get the 2 gallon (9x9x9"). Let me know your thoughts.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016AFYT4Q/?tag=backy-20
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016AO5GAI/?tag=backy-20
    -Roost (just for entertainment/comfort. Doesn't have to be this exact one. Just something similar.) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006F8DQCK/?tag=backy-20

    As for the intermediate stage between chicks and adults out living in the coop, I was trying to get a gaylord box from a local grocery store, but they only have them during summer and fall (watermelon and pumpkin time) so I found this puppy play pen that is basically the same size, and it has a net roof on it, to keep them from escaping. I'm thinking they're going to be in my garage during this stage, and there would be a lot of issues if they got loose in there, so the enclosed container is ideal.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PQ0FOAU/?tag=backy-20

    Any thoughts or suggestions are helpful. And I'm sorry if something is glaringly stupid/obvious. I'm very new to this. We had chickens when I was a little kid (5-6 yo) but my parents took care of all this stuff. I just got to enjoy having pet chickens. I'm an adult now, so I'm seeing the practical side of it, and my oh my are there a lot of things to think about/consider.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2019
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  2. Missbc

    Missbc Chirping

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    I think your box is going to get pretty small pretty fast. You could just add boxes together if you stick with those. After the first week you’ll need a cover for those.

    The plate heater is fine. Skip the feather option. Waterer and feeder are your choice- there’s lots of different choices out there.

    I’m not fond of the play pen, only because it looks like a nightmare to clean. But people use them so they must work fine.

    I’m currently using puppy pads in my brooder and love them since they are easy to change. I’ll switch to pine shavings in a couple weeks.

    (I’m using an xl folding kennel with 2 doors, and will expand with a wire puppy play yard that comes with a cover and easily attached to one end of the kennel.)

    Good luck! Don’t over think it. You’ve got the basics down just fine, except for the cover for the box(es).

    Also, a roost can be a stick stuck thru the side of the box on each side.
     
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  3. A_Fowl_Guy

    A_Fowl_Guy Wildlife Biologist

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    You’re right on the 1/2sqft per chick but that soon increases to 1sqft after two weeks. Feeder and waterer are up to you. I’d get some particle board and just build a brooder. I built mine 3ftx4fr and have two.
     
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  4. ChocolateMouse

    ChocolateMouse Crowing

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    I think this setup is expensive, but very good. I mean, you could replace the roost with a stick on a couple plastic tubs for example. I just use a random bowl for my feeder. But these are good stuff.

    I agree the the size seems small and the pen would be hard to clean. But otherwise this looks great otherwise.

    I wanna say I like keeping chicks in a tiny box for a few days to make sure they're well, then a 2x3 brooder for 6 or so, then as they start hitting 8-10 weeks they move outdoors. So the playpen would probably be fine for the 7-10 chicks until they're feathered out. But you will need a top for it. They will fly out at 3 weeks.
     
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  5. AmyJane725

    AmyJane725 Songster

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    They can jump up 20 inches after the first week? Oh dear...

    I'll have to get some mesh to put over the top. All I need is to come home and find my room full of poop, lol.

    The playpen comes enclosed I believe. There is mesh covering the top as far as I can tell.

    But really, you're telling me to move them from the box to the playpen much sooner than 4 weeks old?
     
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  6. Missbc

    Missbc Chirping

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    2DFB5EF7-6BE3-4C7F-A017-5A309E0077FE.jpeg Mine are getting their wing feathers. Here is one of my chicks at 4 or 5 days. The feathers are much longer already, only a day later. They flap their wings while running the 4’ length of their brooder.

    (I have an amazon cloud cam set up over my brooder. It was a bit spendy, but....)
     
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  7. ChocolateMouse

    ChocolateMouse Crowing

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    Oh yeah, by the time they're a week old they should be wild, active, running and digging and flapping and jumping. They get wild really fast. By the end of the first week they should be almost completely coordinated. Then it's just a matter of time until the feathers come in. Be the time the wing feathers are in at 3 weeks, they will be able to FLY, straight up, 4' easily.
     
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  8. AmyJane725

    AmyJane725 Songster

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    4 feet?! Ok, yeah, they're gonna have to go in the playpen. My garage is concrete, so I'll put some cardboard down under it to help keep the heat in. And then the shavings of course.

    @Missbc, I'd love to see your footage. I bet it's super cute.

    How often do you guys clean out your enclosures? I hear some people just keep adding shavings over the dirty ones, while others actually dump everything out and start fresh. I feel like the latter would be healthier?
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2019
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  9. AmyJane725

    AmyJane725 Songster

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    So, basically, box for two-ish weeks, then once they're starting to fly up, out to the playpen. Then, once they have all their feathers, out to the coop? I was originally thinking they'd be a month in the box, and two months in the play pen. Please give me the actual timeline since I clearly have no idea, lol.

    And yes, I'll agree this whole thing is a bit spendy, but these are pet birds. I don't even care how well the eggs come out. I just want them to live safe happy lives. I want to spoil them. I figure keeping poop/shavings out of their food/water is the least I can do. And I've read that having the light on all the time is annoying/stressful to them (I can see why. I'd go nuts if it was never dark, even when I was trying to sleep), so I don't mind buying them a brooder plate. I figure it's more like a momma they can hide under. Probably feels more secure to them.
     
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  10. christwodog

    christwodog Songster

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    As a general rule of thumb, if you think your space is big enough, increase it by at least 30-50%!
    Brooder plates are great, get a big one if you can, they grow so fast. For a cover, you can use a piece of screen, like leftover from a screen porch and clip it to the sides with the large alligator clips. You will want to cover their box asap, it is amazing how soon they think they can fly and they give it a good effort at a few days old even.
    The nipple waterer is great - you can make a little one with a gallon plastic pitcher. The rubbermaid ones have really strong lids and just drill in couple nipple waterers, you can buy a pack of 5 or 6 on amazon, not expensive. I like the horizontal nipple waterers personally. Then when they go outside, you can give them a 5 gallon waterer and keep the little one in there too, as an alternate water source. But I also have the standard chick waterer in the box for them, some won't try the nipple waterers until they're a week or more old.
    I really like the puppy pee pads, some folks don't like them so you can decide for yourself. I really only use them under the brooder plate and food/water areas. Everywhere else I use paper towels, I know this isn't the most cost effective way but it works well for me.
    Sounds like a good start, have fun with them!
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2019
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