First time hatcher - soon to be brooder - Questions?!?!?!


9 Years
Aug 15, 2010
Columbus Ohio
I have 10 eggs in the bator and will be going into lockdown in a few days. I am a first time hatcher with nerves of Jello at this point- i have termed myself the "Nervous Father hen"
As far as brooders go i had several thoughts and had questions. - they are japanese bantams and seramas just for an FYI

1) I was thinking of using a rubbermaid tote or an empty 50 gallon aquarium? Are either of these bad or better than the other? How tall does the brooder need to be for the lil ones?

2) I got a brooder lamp and a 250 watt red bulb and justin case a white 150 watt heat bulb. My question here is - i am raising them in a spare bedroom where the temp is kept about 68 degrees. Will the 250 be too much? Do they really need the red light? Does anyone just use a regular high wattage incandescent bulb when raised in a warm general environment?

3) Bedding - some use the shelf liners - some paper towels - some pine shavings - which is best ?

4) LOL if anyone has a recipe to calm my nerves that doesnt involve whiskey that would be great too

I would use the tote. I heard somewhere glass was bad, I don't know why. It can be as little as a 1/2 foot for the first few days but it will need to be 10 feet by one week, or put a top on it.

As long as you keep the heat lamp high up, it will be fine. They will only need it for a few days anyway, in that room.

Not shavings! They will eat them when young and die. Paper towls are the best, or puppy pads.
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Ok shavings never? Or just till they are old enough to be well onto their feed?
At what point can i take the light away since it is in a warm house ? or is it weeks?
1 and 2: tote or aquarium is fine. I like a transparent sided brooder so they can see you comming and it doesn't startle them. Just make sure your heat lamp is at one end so they can get away from the light if they get too hot. They will self regulate their temp by moving closer or farther from the light. I use a 100 watt yellow bulb to start my chicks and move to a 60 watt black light in a couple of weeks. If you use something stronger, just make sure they can get away from it and that it doesn't touch anything to possibly start a fire.

3. I put pine bedding in the bottom of the brooder and cover it with a layer of paper towels. The paper towels give the chicks better footing as they are just starting out, and, it helps them find the feed to peck at. After a few days when they are walking really good and know where the food container is, I remove the paper towels and use the pine bedding. You can keep adding to it and stirring it up to accomodate the poop. It is much easier than paper towels!

4. I've been there; we all have. Just keep breathing and hope for the best. A little lavendar essential oil on a cotton ball to sniff every once in a while will help keep you calm as will a little chammomile tea...

Just keep breathing...
Just till they know what to eat, 1-2 weeks. For your tiny chickens, I would take the heat away at 1 1/2 or 2 weeks. If you have less then 8 chicks hatch though, you might want to keep it a bit longer. They will tell you if its cold!
You really need a thermometer in there so you can monitor your temperatures and adjust as necessary. Get your brooder set up before they hatch so everything can be properly adjusted. If you just hang a bulb without knowing what temps you're at, you'll either fry them alive or freeze them. Red bulbs discourage pecking if they peck and draw blood, but I don't think it is an absolute necessity. A thermometer IS a necessity.

As far as shavings go- pine, not cedar shaving are perfectly fine. I personally cover mine with paper towels for the first 2 days so the chicks can easily find their food and water, then I take them up. Don't use newspaper at all, it is too slippery for their little legs.
1. Plastic tote is easier to clean than a 50 gallon aquarium
2. Do a test run on the temperature with the 250W bulb to figure out how far away to put the light. Get a thermometer (I use a big outdoors one that is easy to read and fairly inexpensive, doesn't have to be exact) You want it around 95 degrees for the first week under the light. The chicks will tell you if they are too cold or too hot. Too cold they will be all clumped under the light, too hot the will be as far away from the light as they can possibly get. Just right, they will be randomly spaced through the brooder. Red light is best to help prevent them from pecking each other.
3. I use paper towel the first week for bedding to help keep the chicks from getting spraddle leg. They can grip the towels easier. After the first week, I use pine shavings. I have seen them eat them but I haven't had a chick die from it yet.
4. Scotch, vodka, gin or wine instead of whiskey?
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Oh for sure i am defnitely using a thermometer in there - was just looking for pointers to maybe save me some trial and error with people that have more experience- I am planning on setting up a dry run before they come to see where i am at .
I really don't remember how I ended up with a yellow bulb; it was probably the only 100 watt bulb I could find at the time! LOL
I started using the blacklight bulb so it wouldn't be so bright and using it outside in the tractor, they can get used to the night/day sleep cycle while still having some warmth. I haven't had a problem with my chicks being that delicate...

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