how big should my brooder be?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by niasham, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. niasham

    niasham In the Brooder

    Nov 10, 2012
    How big should it be for 25 chicks?
    what's the minimum?
    I would like to keep them in it until about 6-8weeks as it is VERY cold outside, especially at night. (15-20)
    During the day like 40.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    For that age with that many chicks, really big. Part of it depends on how many males versus females you get too. The males get bigger faster.

    I've kept as many as 27 in a 3' x 5' brooder until they were 4 weeks. Those were mostly female, only 5 males, which helped. I probably could have gone a bit longer but it was starting to get crowded. I kept 21 in there until they were 5 weeks old, but 16 of them were male. That time the brooder was even more crowded.

    I now have a 3' x 6' brooder permanently built in my coop.

    If I were keeping them to 8 weeks old I'd go with a minimum of 1 square foot per chick and really would prefer more.

    I don't know what your set-up is like. I keep my brooder in the coop. If you have electricity out there, I strongly recommend doing that. You'll be amazed at the dust and noise 25 chicks can generate if you keep them in your house.

    I have had a broody wean chicks as early as 3 weeks and they were fine, but that was in the middle of summer and it was HOT! During that same type of weather I've turned the daytime heat off at 2 days and the overnight heat off at 5 days of age. Days, not weeks. By their actions they were telling me they were too hot. It helped that I had a bunch too. There were enough to help keep each other warm.

    In the kind of weather you are talking about, you can't do that at that early an age. However, last fall I had somewhere around 20 in that brooder. I keep one small area warm and let the rest of the brooder cool off as it will. It has good draft protection and good ventilation up high. The far end of that brooder can get pretty cool in cool weather. Many people would be surprised at how much time the chicks spend in the far corners where it is really cool, just going back to the heat when they need to warm up. They do sleep pretty close to the heat source in cooler weather. They still need that heat, but they do not need the entire brooder to be that temperature.

    I kept that group in there until they were 5 weeks old and kept one area in the brooder heated all that time. The overnight lows were hitting the mid 40's Fahrenheit when I moved them to my unheated grow-out coop. Again it has good draft protection and good ventilation up high. When they were 5-1/2 weeks old, the overnight low hit the mid 20's Fahrenheit. Those chicks were fine.

    By having the brooder big enough so I could only heat one small area and allow the rest to really cool off, those chicks were well acclimated. They were fully feathered out and used to the cold. If I had kept them in tropical temperatures in the brooder then dumped them outside in those temperatures, they could easily have been in trouble.

    I don't know what your coop looks like. If you can, you might want to set up a brooder out there. If these are your first chickens and there are no adults chickens out there, you might consider using your coop as a brooder. Maybe for the first week keep them in a smaller area, maybe in a large cardboard box or fix a ring to keep them confined to the heated area, but at a week’s age just let then roam the entire coop. By that age they should go back to the heat when they need it.

    Just be real careful you don’t start a fire. If you are using a heat lamp throw that clamp away that came with it so you are not tempted to use it and tie your lamp up so it can’t possibly fall. I use wire to hold mine up, then have the electric cord fixed so it is a backup in case that wire fails.

    We all have different conditions and different situations. Hopefully you can find something in here that will help you in your unique situation.

    Good luck!!!

  3. Thank you so much for this explanation. I might try to use my coop as a brooder. We live in south-central Texas. This is my first batch of chicks, so my coop is empty. I might as well try it in there. I was feeling a tad anxious about keeping them inside. We dID that with or quail, and it smelled to the high heavens!

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