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Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Coturnix Quail, Jan 22, 2017.

  1. Coturnix Quail

    Coturnix Quail Songster

    Jul 3, 2016
    OK! So, this is going to be my first time raising chickens! I've already raised quail, but in the brooder, many died. I'd like to be a little bit clearer with my chickens because I'm only going to be ordering a few. So, the breeds I've ordered as pets are 2 Blue Cochins, 1 Easter Egger, 1 Easter Egger Bantam, and 1 Buff Orpington. The meat chickens are 2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Autralorps, and 1 Sicillian Buttercup. So, in total I'll have ten babies coming April 17. I REALLY NEED BROODER IDEAS BECAUSE RIGHT NOW I HAVE NONE!! I'll be placing them in the boiler room with a heat lamp, but I also don't know what feed is best. And these chickens will be able to eat the same feed when they get older, right? Also, I need ideas on DIY feeders and waterers. Best bedding? OK, more questions to come, but answer these first. Thanks!!

  2. chippy99th

    chippy99th Chirping

    Dec 17, 2016
    There are lots of different answers to all the questions you're asking, you'll have to look around and see what you like best. :)

    Feed -you'll need to buy Chick Starter. It's specifically formulated for chicks, to help them grow, and is in smaller pieces than adult feed, so they don't choke. When they are older, you can switch them over to a layer feed, which has different nutrients in it, such as more calcium to replace what the eggshells take. I usually switch mine over when they're about 3 months old, sometimes older. I'm guessing there's different feed for meat birds, but I'm not sure; you'll want to make sure you don't feed them anything medicated, though, so it doesn't get in the meat. Also once they are old enough for grown-up food, they can have scratch as a TREAT, not as a meal, and be careful with how young as I've heard of chicks choking on bits of corn kernel.

    I usually use a cardboard box as a brooder for new babies. You can get a big one, like refrigerator-size, so that it will last longer. Bedding -I've used everything from shredded paper to wood shavings to dead leaves. I like shredded paper best, but you'll have to place the food and water on top of a towel or something to try to keep the bedding out (that goes for about any bedding). One they're tall enough to reach, I place the food and water on top of a brick.

    For food and water dispensers...at the local feed store, they should have plastic screw-on troughs that screw onto the tops of mason jars. For just 10 chicks, you can start with one or two of these. There are similar options for food, although to be honest I usually put mine in a heavy, shallow dish with short sides. They get it everywhere though, so if you're concerned about waste, that's not a good option.

    Hope this gave you some ideas. Good luck!
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    Your meat birds are actually dual purpose birds. these birds are primarily layers, but develop a larger carcass so there will be some meat to eat when their laying days are over. I'd suggest that you consider outdoor brooding with a heating pad cave. Do you have your coop yet? You can brood right in the coop and keep the mess out of your house. Check out the second article at the bottom of my signature line.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    How warm is it in that boiler room? How steady is the room temperature? Your goal in any brooder is to provide one spot warm enough in the coolest temperatures and a different spot cool enough in the warmest temperatures, so the chicks can find a comfortable area. The bigger your temperature swings the harder that can be to accomplish.

    A broody hen can raise chicks in below freezing weather or in ridiculous heat waves. The chicks can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, there really isn’t any perfect temperature for a brooder. But too much heat can stress them just as much as too little heat. That’s the beauty of providing one area warm enough and one area cool enough, it takes the stress out of it for them and you. You don’t have to be perfect, you just need to be good enough.

    I use a heat lamp, much as people have been successfully doing for over a century. There are plenty of other ways to provide heat, any of them can work. But you mentioned heat lamps so I’ll discuss that. To me the most important thing to do with a heat lamp is to immediately throw away that clamp that came with it so you are not tempted to use it. Securely wire your lamp in place so neither you nor anything else can knock it down. Use wire, not string, so it will not burn into and the lamp fall. Wire it to something secure.

    The next thing is to make sure your brooder is big enough so you can heat one end and the other cools off. How big that needs to be for this purpose depends some on how big your temperature swings are. In warm weather you may wind up overheating one area but as long as they can get to a cooler area they will be fine. You can adjust how much heat your lamp is putting into that area by using different wattage bulbs, raising or lowering the lamp, or maybe positioning it so not all the heat goes into the brooder.

    How long do you plan to keep them in the brooder? They are going to grow extremely rapidly. At what age will you take them out? I don’t have any magic square feet per chick based on age you need, there are factors that will affect that. The bigger you make it the longer they can stay in it. I’m always in favor of bigger, it reduces your stress levels. It needs a cover too. They will be able to fly at a surprisingly young age. I’ve seen two week olds fly up two feet vertical and three feet horizontally.

    You need to keep the brooder dry. A wet brooder is a dangerous brooder. It can become wet from their waterer or if their poop builds up very much. The bigger the brooder the slower that poop will build up, which can have an effect on how often you need to clean.

    We have all kinds of different waterers, I don’t know which one you plan on using so I can’t be too specific. Make sure it doesn’t leak, which usually involves keeping really level. They scratch a lot and will scratch bedding into your waterer if they can. I solve that by raising the waterer up to about the level of their back. I also use a piece of plywood to center the waterer to try to keep some of the shavings further away.

    I built my brooder into the coop. A popular method, if you have room in that boiler room, would be to get an appliance box to use, putting cardboard on the floor and covering it with bedding so their poop doesn’t stain your floor. Freezer and refrigerator boxes form your local store that sells them are really popular. If they outgrow it, get another and tape the boxes together.

    A standard way to feed chicks is to start them off with Chick Starter. That probably is about a 20% protein level. Then hen that bag runs out, usually between 4 and 8 weeks, switch to a Grower ration, usually around a 16% protein level. Some people feed the higher protein feed forever. There are no hard and fast rules about this except do not feed growing chicks Layer. Which has a high calcium level, usually around 4%. Too much calcium can damage their internal organs or skeleton.

    There are all kinds of different homemade feeders and waterers used. For water I take a pet bowl and fill it with rocks so they can walk on water and not drown. I center that on a piece of plywood to reduce bedding being scratched in. This is actually for adults but maybe you can get the idea.


    For what it’s worth to you, this is my brooder in the coop. It probably will not help you much.


    As with practically anything with chickens there are all kinds of ways to do any of this. Good luck!
  5. Hi. [​IMG]

    I've used big card board boxes. And if needed cut holes and tape together as many as I want. But, really isn't my favorite choice. I think it really does make a difference to be raised in sight of the flock and exposed to the outdoors as early as possible. Planning to do all future broods in the coop. But the ones introduced early on were much better adjust. And the ones we did do indoors... were way less razzled at table height than when on the ground as we approached.

    Nice suggestion to wire the lamp instead of using the clamp!

    My biggest suggestion is get a water bottle with nipples. The hardest thing of all is keeping the water clean and it's also one of the most important to maintain health and combat things like coccidiosis. Shavings pile up in it pretty fast even on raised platform for me.

    I have to make cone shaped tops out of card board and tape if I use those feed store water and feeders for the mason jars, in order to stop the chicks hanging out on top and pooing allover the feed and water.

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