GQF or Similar Commercial Brooders (Serious Newbie)

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Jmurcks, Oct 30, 2009.

  1. Jmurcks

    Jmurcks Songster

    Oct 30, 2009
    North Alabama
    This is my first post here... I do not own any chickens yet but hope to in the spring and in the meantime I am learning and preparing as much as possible.
    I have to say that this is much different territory as to what I am used to as I was a hobby Pomeranian show breeder. You don't often come across puppies in the same catalog as "barbeque special" (hahaha!)
    Ok, I really want to do this right, preferably the first time, so that is why I was considering a GQF Universal Box Brooder. I absolutely do not want to raise chicks in the house as I have young children (and I'm a germ-a-phob) so this would fit nicely on my porch. I also like the idea of a steady thermostat since it will be outdoors.
    Here's my dilemma... It says it can hold up to 50 four week old chicks and best I understand they should be able to hold at 70 degree temps by then and should be fine outdoors thereafter (please correct me if I am wrong). But that just seems a little cramped to me... I also read that the chicks need 1/2 to 1 foot sq. foot each and this measures 36 inches by 30 inches which would only be 7.5 sq. ft. so 7-15 chicks? Seems a little costly for so few chicks to me...
    Does anyone own one of these and if so how many chicks do you successfully house until moving them to the coop/yard?
    Thanks so much in advance, I look forward to many posts here and thanks for all the helpful advice I have found so far!!!

  2. chickerdoodle

    chickerdoodle Songster

    Aug 21, 2009
    Doing a lot of research myself but I only want 4-6 hens! Anywhoo you are right--way too small for 50 chicks. They need more room to prevent pecking each other. They also need to be kept at 95 degrees for the first week, 90 the second, and continue to lower the temp 5 degrees each week until they are fully feathered. That means it needs to be at least 80 degrees outside for them to be OK at 4 weeks of age. Unless you live in the south or raise them later in spring it may be too cold and they fully feather closer to 6-8 weeks of age. They get pretty active before then so giving them something to play with, low perches and the like so I would only have a half dozen or maybe 7 at the most. That's for me though as these will be my pets first and layers second. Others may tell you different so listen to all of it and then decide.

    Good luck!! [​IMG]
  3. feedstorechick

    feedstorechick Songster

    Jun 30, 2009
    Welcome to BYC! You'll learn a lot here about raising your chickens.

    First of all, I don't think you need or want a commercial brooder. It is a compact way to house a large number of chicks for a very short period of time. You also can't see the chicks very well.

    Four weeks is a minimum before your chicks could be feathered up enough to go outside. It could be a couple of weeks longer, depending on how cold it is where you are.

    If you don't want your chicks in the house, they at least need to be in an enclosed area. Even with a heat source, the chicks will die if they are not in a draft free area.
  4. Jmurcks

    Jmurcks Songster

    Oct 30, 2009
    North Alabama
    Thanks for the help!
    I also want to have pets first and layers second. I'll keep buying the nuggets at Wal-Mart, haha!
    I was afraid I wouldn't be able to properly set up a successful brooder and that is why I was considering a commercial breeder but it just seemed so impersonal! It reminded me of one of those jumbo mouse traps but just getting into this hobby I figured whatever works is better than appearance.
    I don't have a garage or shed to house the babies in and my porch isn't screened so predators were also a concern for me. That and I didn't want to burn the house down with a fire hazzard! I may set up a small brooder inside one of the coops I plan for them to use (?)
    Any ideas would be appreciated!
  5. beverlyl

    beverlyl In the Brooder

    Aug 28, 2009
    Morristown Arizona
    When my chickies were about 1-2 weeks old I put them on the porch in a shallow horse trough with chicken wire over it and then put the lights on top of the wire. I covered the lights with cans when it would cool off at night and then put a sheet over the top to keep the warmth in.
  6. wing it

    wing it Songster

    Aug 13, 2009
    long island
    look in the post your brooder thread lots of ideas there. I like most here have made my own. some are simple, some not. I made mine (2 of them) out of plywood, and with some insulation they could be put outside or in a shed, garage. cost was minmal, take some time look around good luck
  7. Akane

    Akane Crowing

    Jun 15, 2008
    Get a box. That's all it takes. Just make sure the heat lamp isn't too close to the cardboard. Some people get large boxes from melons (pumpkins would be around now) from grocery stores. Others ask at stores that sell appliances. I've got a bunch in the box from the new freezer we bought. Or buy a large rubbermaid container. If you want a top for it just cut the middle out of the plastic lid and staple/tape/glue hardware cloth or screen door mesh on it. I've done that for quail chicks when my other brooders were full. Normally I use aquariums since I got a whole bunch of large ones when a nearby reptile store went out of business. I have several 3, 4, and 5 sq ft aquariums. Take a look at the c&c cages made for guinea pigs. I have hundreds of those panels sold for storage shelving that I make things out of all the time. I have a large pen in the coop right now that has raised quail, chickens, and guinea fowl so far. The base they use is coroplast which is the same stuff political signs are made out of. I made one 6x3' cage using plywood as the base and then the metal panels. It's holding my seramas right now and has raised many chicks on my porch. As soon as the new coop is delivered for my bantams I will move the chicks in the freezer box to that pen on the porch.

    Tons of things work as brooders even if you don't have any skills to build one. Not that it's too hard if you do want to build something besides the ones I've already mentioned that don't require a saw or power tools. You just have to get some small boards, cut, nail, and staple hardware cloth on. Small hinges for a door are sold in most hardware and feed stores. You can use pvc too. Get some small pvc pipe and cutters or have the place selling it cut it for you. Then get the joint connectors. You can use the cable ties like are used for the c&c cages to attach the hardware cloth or screen door mesh to the pvc.

  8. henningheather

    henningheather In the Brooder

    Dec 13, 2008
    Here is a picture of our brooder. We have brooded chicks in it three times now and it works like a dream. It is a round (old and no longer holding water) water trough like on a farm. You can often get them free from folks who just want them hauled off. Because it has sturdy sides it holds a metal bar to hang the lights from without fear of them falling into the chick area and causing a fire. You could also put a top on it with a simple hardware cloth frame to keep other critters out of it if it's going to be outdoors.

    Ours isn't perfect or pretty but it works perfectly. Good luck and I can't wait to see what you decide to use.

  9. Jmurcks

    Jmurcks Songster

    Oct 30, 2009
    North Alabama
    Thanks for all the input!
    I searched through every single page of the brooder pictures thread and I have to say I learned a lot! You guys are so creative and have tons of great ideas!
    It seems if you have a box and light you are set no matter what shape, etc. Perhaps I am trying to complicate things too much! It does seem like the 1 square foot per bird rule may be a bit much and isn't too strictly followed.
    I was hoping for 25 birds, cochins or silkies, and I live in N. Alabama so the weather isn't too horrible come spring. I still believe space is my major concern...
    What do you guys think minimums could be on a brooder to the 4th or 5th week?
    Also, if about the 2nd or so week I give them a little "run" outside the brooder box into the grass and let them run for several hours does that count for giving them space?
    Thanks a million!! You guys are great!
  10. YankeeRider

    YankeeRider Chirping

    If you're getting chickens you're eventually going to need a coop for them. You don't say where you live, so it's not clear what you'll be doing for a coop.

    My chickens never had to move to the coop, because that's where they lived from day one. I built a proper coop first, ran an extension cord for a heat lamp. and simply cordoned off a smaller portion of the coop for their brooder. It gave them enough room to self regulate their temperature by moving closer or farther from the heat lamp, and I didn't spend anythingthing on the brooder(except the heat lamp) that wasn't part of their adult coop. I have had no health issues or losses.

    BTW, I later sectioned off a small area of the coop for a future brooder/isolation area for future chicks.

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