1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

Chicken Virgin... My babies are coming and I have a couple questions

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by candylandfarm, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. candylandfarm

    candylandfarm In the Brooder

    Jan 2, 2010
    Greenwood, SC
    Hi! My chicks will be here in a few weeks and I'm trying to get ready for their arrival. It's almost as complicated as getting ready for a baby! I have 14-16 chicks arriving. What size brooder do I need? From what I've read, they will be using that for about 2 weeks and then what? I think they don't go to the actual coop until 8 weeks old or so. Is that correct? My husband is in a bit of a panic picturing 16 chicks running through the house! I need to sound knowledgeable about the plan!

    Is there a beginner's mistake you made that you'd like to warn me about? [​IMG]


    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010

  2. phalenbeck

    phalenbeck Songster

    Aug 14, 2008
    Canton, N.C.
    First time I used a cardboard box-pine shavings-newspaper under-red heat lamp--thermomiter to see if it hit 85-90 under the light, in the living room. Rocks in the waterer so they did not drown, and chick starter. When the dust/noise/smell started they went to a bigger box in the semi-heated porch. Now the broody hens hatch there own in the coop without my involvement or bother beyond giving a close food supply, and there mom's are lifegaurds for the water. If you have heat source--(lamp or hen), and chick starter/water they will be fine. Sometimes a weak/defective chick will die---it is part of life. I have become allot fussy and worried and in spite of my new cold uncaring heart my newest chicks are fine. ----Give then the basics of food heat and water making do with supplies at hand and they will be fine. It is not complicated. When they feather out at 6 weeks more of less it is time for the coop. Remember that everybody likes to eat chicken and make the coop to keep everything out---not just chickens in. Imagine foxes digging, raccoons that pick locks, and dogs and lions jumping on the coop (maybe not Loins) and now you have it. Last point--make it easy to clean for your and there sake. Welcome--they are fun little buggers--and keeping it simple and cheap goes a long way to long term fun.
  3. The Chicken People

    The Chicken People Songster

    May 4, 2009
    Smithville, Mo
    I plan to use a big tote container from Walmart for the first few weeks and then move to a brooder pen that DH needs to construct...and then to a small coop until the big coop is ready or I can integrate them with the flock!
  4. Marlinchaser

    Marlinchaser Songster

    Oct 18, 2007
    If these are your first chicks there is no reason they can not start in the coop. Provided it is preditor proof, and you have electricity available. There are no hard set rules for size of brooders, just that you can provide enough heat to keep them warm enough. It should be draft free, and have enough room for them to get out of the heat if they feel too hot. I would partition a section of the coop, then as they grow allow them more space till they occupy the whole coop. Having chicks in the house is a DUSTY with a capital D so be prepared to have chicken dust everywhere, even if you have them in the basement, somehow chicken dust will make it to the attic. [​IMG]
  5. CheerfulHeart2

    CheerfulHeart2 Creative Problem Solver

    Apr 8, 2009
    Phoenix, AZ
    candylandfarm [​IMG]
  6. HEChicken

    HEChicken Crowing

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    I agree with everything said by the PP. There is no right or wrong when it comes to brooder. I've heard of people using large cardboard boxes, old kiddie pools etc. For myself, I had one of those old laundry washtubs (metal) that was huge, so I used that. Make sure you use something that is easy to clean out as with 16 chicks you will be doing quite a bit of cleaning. I did use pine shavings, but for the first day or so, you'll want to cover the pine shavings with paper towel (not newspaper as it can be slippery when wet). The purpose of the paper towel is that to begin with they won't know what is food and what isn't, so will try to eat the pine shavings. After the first day or two, once they are established eating the chick crumbles, you can remove the paper towels.

    As for size, the chicks will grow really fast so the brooder needs to be big enough to accommodate 16 six-week-olds, not 16 day-old chicks. This is really important because what seems huge at first will quite quickly start to seem way too small. If they are too crowded they will not be happy and may start to peck each other.

    I used one of those little chick feeders for the crumbles as it helps to keep them from spilling it. For water, I built a little platform (consisted of two tuna cans with a wire shelf across to begin with; as they got bigger, I used taller and taller cans). On the platform, I put a heavy ceramic bowl, with a rock in the middle. If the water is at about the height of their back, they will be able to reach in to get water but won't be able to get as many of the pine shavings into it. That is the reason for making it higher and higher as they grew.

    On heat, conventional wisdom is 95 for the first week and reduce by 5 degrees per week. Honestly, I found this to be a little warm. You can tell if they are comfortable because if too cold, they'll huddle around the heat and if too warm, they'll separate and get as far from the heat as possible. At the recommended temps I noticed they spent more time trying to get away from the heat than near it, so I reduced the temp a little (you can do this either by using a lower wattage bulb or raising the light higher above the brooder) and they seemed much more comfortable. You know they are comfortable when they are moving freely around the brooder, spending a little time near the heat and a little time away from it.

    Mine were fully feathered at around 4 weeks and moved outside full-time at that stage. However it wasn't winter and temps outside were considerably warmer than they are now! You would have to decide based on your weather and climate, as well as feathering, at what point they can go outside. I.e., in southern California I'd be more inclined to move them outside early, but in Minnesota, I'd keep them in a lot longer. In any case, you don't want to make a very sudden transition from warm brooder to cool outdoors. Before I moved mine outside, I started turning the heat off inside for longer periods so that they became used to cooler temps. Then, their first time outside was for only an hour, next day 3-4 hours, next day 6-7 and so on. Let them adjust gradually and they'll be fine.

    Good luck!
  7. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    You might try to find a washer/dryer or fridge. box from Lowes, Home Depot, or some place like that for when they are a few weeks old. It would be a lot cheaper than building something. You would need to have some kind of wire for the top, since they can launch themselves pretty high at just a few weeks. You're going to have so much fun!

  8. Ms~Silkie~Girl

    Ms~Silkie~Girl Songster

    Feb 7, 2009
    New York STATE
    6x2 foot worked for me and i had 22 chicks. They go into the actual coop at about 6-8 weeks.

    Good Luck!
  9. candylandfarm

    candylandfarm In the Brooder

    Jan 2, 2010
    Greenwood, SC
    Wow! Thanks everyone for the great replies! These are our first chicks and my children (5 and 9) are pretty excited, as am I! My husband.... not so sure! We just bought 108 acres and are in the process of getting a barn, coop, and planning our house. We have a lake house about 10 minutes away where we are currently living so I will start them here and then move them out to the farm when they are old enough. We "inherited" 7 goats, 2 donkeys and a mule with the property so we go out there every day. As it gets warmer, I expect we'll spend hours each day out there. I'm waiting on my greenhouse to start messing with my plants. Can't wait to get it all AND be out there full-time. [​IMG]

    Just so I understand... did most of you just get some kind of brooder large enough to keep them in until they move to the coop? I think that's what I was confused on. I think I'd like some kind of brooder that I can continue to use. Sounds like most people just put something together rather than buy anything. I will definitely be cleaning every day. My husband is convinced I should work for Customs. I have a strong sense of smell!

    I was actually looking at a couple of rabbit cages that have the drop tray where the poop falls into. Would something like that work? I could get more than one.

    Thanks again!

  10. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I started with a large cardboard box but decided the On Sale, 54 gallon Rubbermaid Storage Bin was a good buy and wouldn't get mushy from the spilled water and "other stuff." Much easier to clean. It wasn't tall enough when the chicks started flying - oh MY! Hello, chickie! - but I used my bathroom as the nursery. Since I checked on them (obsessively) I just put the occasional escapee back into the bin. After a while, they perched on the lip, hopped down, hopped back up, and waited for me when I came home from work......

    ....I found that adorable. But I'm a soft touch.

    Yes, the chicken dust was everywhere in the bathroom, and I was glad to get the kids outside full time after 7 weeks... but I know I can set that Rubbermaid tub up again in the Spring when I succumb to chick fever.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by