How long do they need a brooder?


Jan 2, 2020
Eastern Illinois
My Coop
My Coop
By no means saying what I do is right, its just what I have found success with. I run an ohio spot brooder for 3 weeks, I have it thermostatically controlled and follow the ross broiler management handbook for temperature settings. (90 degrees first 3 days, 86 for 3 days, 82 for 3 days, 80 for six days, and then drop 2 degrees every 3 days after that until you reach 68 degrees) For the fourth week, I just hang a couple heat lamps up in the pen for some heat, but its nowhere near as warm as the ohio, maybe 50 degrees in those areas and cooler elsewhere. After that week they are off heat completely. I live in east central Illinois. night time temps in 20's currently day time in 30s-40s. I'm raising 200 at a time though. You'll see them huddle together without the lamps but they stay warm and it hasnt affected my rate of gain or feed efficiency. I still outproduce the aviagen age/weight chart on my 6 week old straight runs. Obviously my set up changes when we reach 90-100 degree highs in the summer.


12 Years
Nov 13, 2008
Salina, OK
Thank you for your insight. I will look into that brooder. And I am open to any recommendations.

Here is more details of what I’ve got going on. What I am intending to use is a (roughly) 4’x8’ coop. It’s not insulated, just enclosed, with ventilation. And sheltered from the wind by other structures. And use lamps for heat. I’ll get a thermometer and set it up before I get the birds to check the temperatures.
In the past I’ve brooded chicks in tubs indoors. But I’ve got small children and house pets now, so I’m not comfortable with that. Plus I’d just rather have them outside.

I plan to make some sort of divider before I get the chicks, so I can keep them in a smaller area if need be.
I’ll have 45 chicks total. But only 15 of those are broilers. And I know they will soon be too big to be kept with the Heritage chicks. I’m trying to figure out if I’ll just be able to divide the two types within that same structure. Or if I’ll need a second space before they can go out.

I want to build a chicken tractor for our next set of meat birds. But for now I have the electric netting... I’ve got some room in the budget if I need to buy something else. But at this point I can’t build much without the help of my husband who has been working 12 and 13 day “weeks” since November. So careful planning is my greatest asset at this point.
I still need a shelter to use within the netting. It’s all exciting and intimidating at the same time.


Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
I've never raised Cornish X so can't help you with a lot of that but I did live across the state line in Arkansas from you and raised chicks outdoors in a brooder in February. I also used heat lamps. To me your biggest issue will be the temperature swings. You'll see it go from below freezing into the 70's in 36 hours. Your brooder has to be able to handle that. What you want is a warm enough spot in the coldest temperatures and a cool enough spot in the warmest temperatures.

My brooder was 3' x 6' and built into the coop. I'll include a photo. When it was that cold the sides were totally wrapped in that clear plastic. This photo is from when it was warmer. I still had great ventilation up high even when it was wrapped. You can see that chimney where I hung the heat lamp on the left. That kept the heat from building up too much on the warmest days. The heat lamp kept that side toasty warm but on the cold days I saw ice on the far side.


If you make a divider make sure they can't get trapped behind it away from the heat. For 45 chicks I'd use two lamps, both on the same end. Part of that is to spread the warm spot out but keep the far end cool. Another part is redundancy, if one bulb blows they still have heat. Make sure you secure the heat lamp with wire or chain so it can't fall. Do not use that clamp, those are dangerous.

I typically have around 20 chicks in here, all dual purpose. I put them in straight from the incubator or post office, even if it is below freezing outside. As long as they have the choice I find mine are really good at finding and using a warm spot. I don't know what your 4' x 8' coop looks like. As long as it is pretty open I would not worry about them getting where they can't get to the heat, but could they get trapped in nests? You may want to block those off.

I leave my chicks in there in winter until they are 5 weeks old, maybe a few days longer if the weather is pretty rough when they hit 5 weeks. Mine has plenty of room. You'll have twice the chicks and more than twice the room but some of yours will be Cornish X. I'm not sure how that will work for you.

You will have nights below freezing so your water can freeze. I put my water in the heat lamp area to help it stay thawed. I use a black rubber bowl so if it does freeze I can just knock the ice out. The rubber bowl will not break. To keep them from getting soaking wet I fill it with rocks so they can drink between the rocks and yet walk on water. They will poop in it so it needs to be dumped daily and refilled. That can be a pain when the rocks are frozen in the ice so I have enough to use different rocks while some thaw out.

Grow out Water.JPG

My dual purpose chicks can get through the electric netting until they are maybe 7 weeks old. I don't know what age your Cornish X will be too big to do that.

I think it is very important they have good wind protection down where they are but they also need decent ventilation, preferably up high.

That's all I can think of right now. Good luck!


12 Years
Nov 13, 2008
Salina, OK
I don't know what your 4' x 8' coop looks like. As long as it is pretty open I would not worry about them getting where they can't get to the heat, but could they get trapped in nests? You may want to block those off

It just has a single roost in it. I was made to keep a few young guineas in it short term, some years back. It was just wire and a roof originally.

thank you for all of your advice. I think the last time I had chicks was 10 years ago. I raised all sorts of things as a teen, but I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things.
That is a really good point about having 2 lamps.

move been reading the CX are food bullies. Maybe I can make some sort of creep feeder for the other chicks. And depending on how warm it gets, I might be able to get another light in there, and spread out the heat. My concern is the CX getting too big and smothering the layers.
I saw Mike Dickson (fitfarmer on YouTube) start both types together, and he had to get them out pretty soon. That is how I know how fast they will grow. I’m going to rewatch that video. But he had more birds, in less space. It was summer, and he had a chicken tractor.
No matter what I’m sure this will be a good learning experience :D


10 Years
Oct 16, 2010
Looking at OK temps I don't see a problem. I brood chicks for three weeks when temps are as yours are right now. 50 F day and few nights in week have frost. For my area those kind of temps we don't see until late March and most years until April.

Typical brooder of water stock tank with 125w heat lamp. They have room to move away from heat and I raise the lamp after first week. If outside temps are right they go out 3 weeks of age if it's high 30's day temp then they wait another week or so in brooder. I take out the heat lamp though. Keep them in garage that's only heated if we are working in it and it never gets below 40F.

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