Help me NOT burn down my house! Supid newbie!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ND, Sep 15, 2010.

  1. ND

    ND Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First time brooding chicks...arriving tomorrow...

    Only 7 chicks.

    I plan to use one of those medium to large rubbermaid storage containers to start with. I have a heat lamp (with the ceramic fixture) and just a 125w bulb to start.
    I put shavings in (2" or so), then paper towels on top for the first day (or two?). I feel like I'm building kindling for a fire... and it's worse because it's not even a coop involved, but my HOUSE!

    I will be having my husband secure the lamp with wire/chain (the clamp is kinda a joke...), but what other precautions should I take? I am home 95% of the time, but of course we do leave...and...sleep. (I'm thinking I'll place a new smoke detector near the set-up, just in case the unimaginable happens)

    Also, first time doing this obviously... should the lamp be focused centrally, or just to one end? If I locate it in the center, there is room for them to move off the the sides where it's slightly cooler. If I place it at one end, one end may be significantly cooler. (A/C on in the house, but only at about 79 degrees)

    There isn't a lid on it right now, I plan to have my husband cut the center of the lid out and put hardware cloth in place...but do I need to add any small holes on the sides (up high) for...ventilation?


    And... about how long before the peeps can fly/jump up and out? My husband is leaving for a week (3 days after the peeps arrive), will they be jumping/flying out by 10 days old or so? (EE's, Doms, BR, and BA- all standard sized) Should the lid be priority before he leaves?





    I know I'm about to learn how messy chicks are in the house... but I don't feel like I have a safe, warm place for them where there future coop will be-- not when they're so tiny!
    Maybe in about 3 weeks with a little bit more size to them.

    Last few stupid questions:

    Can I use a water bottle type waterer for them? (like for hamsters,etc) If I show/teach them that's their water... I have a regular type water container (plastic screw on type), but I know one of the biggest issues will be keeping things dry.

    I know they grow quickly...how long before I need a larger brooder for 7 chicks? A week, two or three weeks? Play it by ear? (which I'll probably do)
    I just have no idea what to use for the next size up. Ugh!


    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Pheonix

    Pheonix Out Of The Brooder

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    I can't help much as I'm just starting to, but I've read a bunch from the Chickens for Dummies, written by the creator of this site. It goes onto hatching and raising babies quite a bit. It says that you can point the heater at the center and they will go to the side if needed. Also if you use the ceramic IR heaters, that you need to look at how the chicks are doing, and not at a temp gauge as the skin on chicks will absorb the IR and not show up on temp gauges.

    From what I've heard, they shouldn't be able to jump a foot till they are about 2-3 weeks, but we can have someone else confirm that.

    As for burning down the house, I would just set it all up without the chicks in it, and let it run for a while and feel the bottom. If it is hot to the touch then it is prob to hot for the chicks. If it is warm and feels like they would prob have a good time, it shouldn't be hot enough to start a fire.

    As for the the lid, you can check with others, but I don't think you would really need it.
     
  3. rungirl

    rungirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You are doing fine. I use a plastic tote also. I put in some shavings, a feeder and waterer and then put it in the garage with another tote stacked underneath to hold it off the floor. I don't put it in the house because it gets too stinky. I hang the heat lamp from the garage door track and suspend it a little above the tote... not too close. I put the light over to one side, so they can get away from it if they are too warm. You don't want a fire hazzard, so make sure you get the heat lamp with the guard on it just in case it ever falls. I don't put the lid on the tote. Once a week, I dump the shavings and scrub out the whole box with the hose and Clorox Cleanup, rinse, dry and reload.

    Later, when they get bigger, I lay a old window screen across the top with a brick on it to keep them from jumping out. When they outgrow the tote, I move them into a big cardboard box with high side. By then, they aren't using heat lamps anymore but need more room. Then when they are big enough to move outside, I pitch the box. I get my boxes from an appliance store, like a refrigerator box works well.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2010
  4. WildflowerJLH

    WildflowerJLH Chillin' With My Peeps

    Can't help with most of your questions, as I am only a few weeks ahead of you. But I have 7 chicks that are 2 weeks old. They are still fine in the 24" square box brooder that they are in. I have started putting them outside in a pen during the warmest part of the day, so they can forage, but they still spend most of their time in the brooder.

    I have the light at one corner, so they can get away if they are too warm. At 2 weeks, my 125 watt bulb is 8-10 inches from the top of the box.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I'll try a few of these.

    I will be having my husband secure the lamp with wire/chain (the clamp is kinda a joke...), but what other precautions should I take? I am home 95% of the time, but of course we do leave...and...sleep. (I'm thinking I'll place a new smoke detector near the set-up, just in case the unimaginable happens)

    The clamp is an absolute joke. I secure it two different ways with wire so it cannot fall in the brooder. A smoke detector is a tremendous idea.

    Also, first time doing this obviously... should the lamp be focused centrally, or just to one end? If I locate it in the center, there is room for them to move off the the sides where it's slightly cooler. If I place it at one end, one end may be significantly cooler. (A/C on in the house, but only at about 79 degrees)

    I focus mine in one area to keep that area only to the correct temperature. The rest I let cool off. My brooder is a 3' x 5' kept in the coop. This spring, I kept one area in the recommended temperature range and allowed the rest to cool off as it would. The far corner was down to 70*F during the day. The first couple of days, they pretty much stayed under the lamp, but by the third day, they were wandering all over the brooder, coming back to the light when they wanted to warm up. They did sleep under the light as long as they were in the brooder, but I think that was more habit than need by the time they were about 4 weeks old. Too much heat is a bigger problem than too little heat. I think they do better if they can cool off.

    There isn't a lid on it right now, I plan to have my husband cut the center of the lid out and put hardware cloth in place...but do I need to add any small holes on the sides (up high) for...ventilation?

    Having a lot of the top open and covered with hardware cloth should be enough ventilation. I have not used one of those as a brooder, so maybe someone with experience with them will chime in, especially if they have a good way to cover it.

    And... about how long before the peeps can fly/jump up and out? My husband is leaving for a week (3 days after the peeps arrive), will they be jumping/flying out by 10 days old or so? (EE's, Doms, BR, and BA- all standard sized) Should the lid be priority before he leaves?

    I'd personally want the lid done before he left.

    Can I use a water bottle type waterer for them? (like for hamsters,etc) If I show/teach them that's their water... I have a regular type water container (plastic screw on type), but I know one of the biggest issues will be keeping things dry.

    Never used one so won't comment.

    I know they grow quickly...how long before I need a larger brooder for 7 chicks? A week, two or three weeks? Play it by ear? (which I'll probably do)
    I just have no idea what to use for the next size up. Ugh!


    From now until they are about 4 weeks old, you need about 1/2 square foot per chick. That is an area about 12" x 6" for each of them. After 4 weeks, it would be good to give them about 1 square foot each until they leave the brooder. Your breeds should be fully feathered out by the time they are about 4 to 5 weeks old. Unless you are in a really cold climate, they should not need extra heat after that.

    Hope this helps. Good luck!
     
  6. sharol

    sharol Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Admire, KS
    My 7 are 9 weeks old right now.

    I used an old cat cage (from cat shows) that is 22wx52Lx22 tall, they were outgrowing it at 3 weeks. They were able to fly/jump up to a perch that was a foot off the floor of the brooder at about 2 1/2 weeks. They were driving me crazy flying from one end of the cage to the other chasing each other, so I moved up the time for them to go outside, and they went out during the day at about 3 weeks. Enjoy them while they are little 'cause it won't last long enough. At 3 weeks they could fly up to a roost set at about 2 feet in the hoop.

    However big you think they will get, they get bigger. However soon you think they will outgrow the bin, it will be sooner. They grow like bad weeds in August.

    You gotta love it. At 9 weeks, they have been in the hoop (combination run/tractor pen) for 5 weeks (day and night), and I'm finally comfortable with them being outside. I let them out in the yard for 45 minutes or an hour a couple of times a day (since the end of last week), and they fly around like crazy birds for the first couple of minutes and then settle down to bug hunt and eat weed seeds. Then they drift back into the run for a nap. I feel like an obsessive parent.
     
  7. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Chain is good and all we do. That said, if the inside of your house is between 65-75... a 60W bulb a foot from the shavings on one side probably all you really need. I usually run 2, 100W bulbs in two separate lamps for my 4x4x6 brooder outside when temps at night drop to the mid 30's. I run two in case one goes out. Under the light in the center is probably about 110, so the chicks distribute themselves, with the cold corner spots often in the 50's. As long as there is enough ideal temperature spots, no need to worry. Watching their behavior will let you know if you need to dim the lights to reduce heat, or increase the wattage to give them more.
     
  8. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [I focus my lamp at one end of the brooder. This allows a much wider range of temperatures so that they can all be comfortable. I have had good results with this, especially since chicks don't always agree with the guidelines for heat. This arrangement makes it easier (to me) also to tell whether they're gathering toward the heat or gathering far away from the heat - so you can tell if they're too hot or too cold.

    I have read where others have used hamster/rabbit type waterers and had good results. But yes, you will definitely have to teach them how to use it.

    Of course you'll have to play the size by ear - but just remember, they always grow faster than you think. I've brooded quite a few flocks, and it still surprises me how fast they grow.

    For the lid, which you really won't need until they start to fly, i would have him cut out and put hardware cloth (or screen or whatever) over as much area as possible. You want the ammonia to be able evaporate, and you want the heat to be able to escape too, so that they don't get too hot. I have often used a window screen for the top. It doesn't need to be something so tough - like hardware cloth - unless you're planning to put the brooder someplace where predators can get to it.

    Congratulations on your new chicks! You're going to do great! Don't forget to ask all the questions you need to on BYC. There are tons of people here who are eager to help.
     
  9. Dora'smom

    Dora'smom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You might want to invest in one of those small thermometers that you can find at the feed store. The temperature should be 95 degrees for the first week, then down by 5 degrees each week for the first few. You will know if they are too hot or too cool by how they distribute themselves in the brooder. If they are all in a mosh pit under the light--too cool. If they are all far away from the light--too hot. They will also cheep loudly and repeatedly if things are not right. You will want to have some sort of covering for the top by about one week of age, as my little ones in my second flock could fly a foot or so across in the brooder by that age. Make sure that no small snakes, rats, cats or dogs have access to the brooder, as well.
    I know that the clamp on the heat lamp doesn't get much respect, but it always worked for us, and after the first week or so, we had a section of chicken wire spread across the top, and that made doubly sure that the light wouldn't fall in, as it was above that wire. Good luck with your birds.
     
  10. Broodica

    Broodica Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am a total newbie as well, but this is what I have done so far.

    I have 4-16 day old chicks, RIRs, Delaware and Wyandotte. I had them in a 105 quart Rubbermaid tote until a couple of days ago. I used paper towels over wood shavings for about 5 days, then just shavings. They had enough floor space (about 3 square feet) but were trying to fly out of it all the time by the time they were 10 days old.. Every time I opened the lid, (which had the center cut out and replaced with hardware cloth, no additional ventilation was needed), I had chicks everywhere...which is fine, but they just seemed cramped. . Moved them into one half of a 12 square foot (2' x 6'), 24" high dog exercise cage (the other half has 4 ducklings in it). They have tons of room, but still can fly out, so have hardware cloth over top of that now as they kept flying into the duck's part. I am hoping to be able to keep them in there until they go outside, but that depends on the weather here (low-mid 60's at this point) and how fast they feather out. You might need a little more space with 7(?).

    I gave up on the temperature thing. Even with a thermometer, I couldn't keep it at 95F and when it was at the proper heat it was too hot for them. I had a 250w infrared pointed at one end of the original tote and adjusted it as they reacted to the heat. It was obvious when they were hot/cold and I was driving myself nuts trying to keep the "proper" temperature with a thermometer. Now I have just one 250w over the middle of the cage which is being shared by the ducks and it seems to be doing the job just fine for both. They are in and out of the heat as needed during the day, no piling, no panting, find them stretched out "dead" under it in the AM when I get up. Watch out for that, I thought they WERE dead the first time I saw them on their sides! My average room temp is around 65F - 68F, but they are in a bathroom with the door open, so I am sure it warms up more during the day in there.

    I have my lamp on a reptile warmer stand that extends. It's probably a bit less than 2.5' above the cage floor at this point. It has the protectors on the hood in case it falls, which it never has.

    They are still drinking out of a quart bottle chick waterer and I replace the water everyday. They aren't huge drinkers like the ducks and they have yet to knock it over. I do have it up on an overturned pie plate tho, as they kick the shavings into it, which absorbs the water. They are using a quart bottle chick feeder. They also don't make a big mess. I stir up the shavings every day a couple of times, removing and replacing any that is wet or gross and clean them out completely every few days. Never had a smell problem or found them at all messy, but they are still young and small and waaaaaaay too cute. Getting their combs tho!

    If you want to see messy, try ducklings.....

    I also let them out to run/flutter around and sit in my lap on a towel everyday. One of the RIRs is still a little shy, but the other 3 are like puppies. They even hang out with the ducklings. I put old towels on the floor to save my carpeting in the family room, and then throw them (the towels) in the washer.

    Congrats and love them, enjoy them. They will have you laughing, guaranteed and I think you'll be surprised at how easy they are...at least to begin with! I am waiting to see the incremental mess increase with size!
     

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