coop as the brooder?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by sashurlow, Mar 13, 2016.

  1. sashurlow

    sashurlow Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2009
    West Rutland, VT
    A little history...
    About six years ago we got chicks and raised them through their entire lives until they didn't lay so we got rid of them last fall. So we currently have no birds. We are getting six more chicks in May. We have a coop that is four by six with a covered run already. The first time we brooded our chicks in a cardboard box in the house. This time we would like to brood them outdoors. We read an article recently on this site that talked about starting outdoors and with good views all around the brooder so that is my inspiration to starting outdoors.
    Is there any reason we can't just brood them from the start outside in the coop? It has electricity. Or should we at least give them a couple weeks on a covered porch or inside the house? We have cats who roam the house and covered porch btw...
    I'm trying to plan ahead and build something if need be. My biggest concern about starting them in the coop is that we won't visit it as much to check on their health if they are not on the porch. Lets be honest, they are insanely cute as chicks too. My curiosity to start in the coop is to avoid building something new.
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    There are several of us that brood in the coop straight from the incubator or post office. And there are some that brood them for a few days in the house before they take them out there. I’m not sure what your coldest temperatures will be in May in Vermont, but I’ve put chicks in mine when it was below freezing in February. It is easier to socialize them when they are in the house but the dust, noise, and smell is in the coop. It’s your choice.

    Your 4’ x 6’ coop should be OK. My brooder in the coop is 3’ x 6’. What you are after is keeping one spot warm enough but let the rest cool off. I use heat lamps and keep one end toasty but there have been times ice has been in the far end. One of the challenges in brooding outside is that there can be a big difference in the daily highs and the overnight lows. It’s next to impossible to keep the entire brooder one certain temperature but that is not important. As long as one spot is warm enough in the coldest weather and one spot is cool enough in the warmest weather they are really good at self-regulating temperature, even straight from the incubator. Talk about stress-free management.

    There are different ways to provide that heat. The heating pad cave is really popular with some people right now but I use heat lamps. There are still other ways. As long as you can keep one area warm and let the rest cool off it doesn’t matter which method you use. One potential issue if it happens to be below freezing is keeping your water thawed. I just put my water in the heated area but other methods might require some type of heated water dish. There are benefits and potential issues no matter which method you choose. CT saved me from providing that link.

    Here’s a shot of mine in warmer weather. In winter I wrap it pretty well in plastic but in warmer weather not so much. It doesn’t show really well but I built a chimney on the left to put the heat lamp in. That keeps the adults off the cord and provides great ventilation on top, even when it is wrapped.


    And here are some of the chicks I put in mine just over a week ago.

  4. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    There's certainly no reason not to use a perfectly good coop and run when you already have them. Duh! I would give everything a thorough cleaning and going over for predator security, cold drafts, and water leaks. Once you know it's secure, you can feel confident of moving your baby chicks right into their new home.

    One big advantage is they won't have to move again at some point from brooder to coop, which can be disruptive, since chickens hate change. It's in their contact, didn't ya know? The other big advantage is you have the mess confined to their living quarters, not yours! Hah!

    But don't kid yourself. You'll be visiting them as much, if not more, as if
    you had them in a brooder on your porch. I was a tad worried about that aspect myself when I brooded in my run last spring for the first time. But I was spending as much time with my new babies as I ever did when they were in the house. But having all that wonderful space for us to enjoy one another was just splendid, and the chicks were even more receptive to being played with in their spacious environment, much more trusting and calm.

    With the heating pad cave system of heat, you really have no real worries. My chicks did just fine, and were every bit as active, as they ever were in a brooder, and the cold didn't seem to bother them at all, even during the first week when their heat needs are highest. But unlike the brooder box, my chicks had so much space to run and play, they got to be real chickens at a much earlier stage. They could flex their tiny wings and try to fly while brooder box chicks can only try to scheme ways to escape. A thread a few weeks back revolved around such an escapee, which panicked the chick-mom something awful until she found the fugitive hiding in her son's laundry basket in his closet.

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