How often to change the litter in the brooder cage

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by CluckerCam, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. CluckerCam

    CluckerCam Out Of The Brooder

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    Just a quick question. I've been changing the litter (wood shavings) in my brooder cage once a week. How often is the recommended period between cleanings?
     
  2. rambunctious

    rambunctious Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No clue. I have 15 1 week old (as of tomorrow) I just removed the paper towels 2 days ago, and this a.m. added a big handful of new shavings to the top and gave it all a stir.
     
  3. MaddBaggins

    MaddBaggins Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been changing about 2/3 of the shavings each week. Seems to stay pretty clean. I don't scoop it all out because I feed them in a plate. They scratch at it and throw food all over. That food ends up in the shavings and the chicks scratch at that looking for food.
     
  4. HazelCMAS

    HazelCMAS Out Of The Brooder

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    Before mine were directly on the shavings, I used paper towels on top of shavings. I changed the towels once or twice a day. Now that they are on just the shavings I change the bedding once it starts to smell. So, far with chicks nearly 3 weeks old, it has been every 3ish days. I put them down on the shavings last weekend because the paper towels were getting soiled as fast as I could change them out.

    I have 11 chicks. Not sure if that is relevant to your situation or not but of course, the more chicks there are, the more poop they make.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
  5. Aphrael

    Aphrael Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just got my first chickens as an adult last summer, so I am by no means an expert. I wanted to use the deep litter method so I figured it would be best to start out that way as chicks as well, so I never changed the bedding unless it became soaked (like from spilled water) or something else caused an area to become wet or caked. Then I would just remove all that area of bedding and add more to make up for what was removed. Other than that I just kept it stirred regularly and added fresh bedding to the mix as the level of it started to get a little low. It worked good for me, the cage didn't stink like poo and my girls grew up happy and healthy.
     
  6. CluckerCam

    CluckerCam Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks. I've got 5 chicks that I've had for 3 weeks now. The chicks are 4 or 5 weeks old now and have just started losing the fluff on the tops of their heads (if that gives a better indication of age?)

    I just changed their litter again today, I don't have a deep enough cage to just cover it up with more, so I did scoop it all out and started with fresh. I don't have the problem of them scratching their food all over the floor anymore, as I put some cardboard in place where they can still stand on the feeder but not scratch it out so easily. It's been working very well, the chicks can still eat and jump up on the feeder, but they have not scratched all their food out now.

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    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
  7. Aphrael

    Aphrael Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hey that's a really nifty solution for keeping them from scratching out food! I like it. [​IMG]
     
  8. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

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    Did you make the feeder? It looks like a bucket attached to a divided plastic plate? Does the feed flow well or do you find you have to shake it sometimes? I'm looking at solutions for a little coop we're making for a juvenile growing pen and saw some little buckets at the hardware store. Those plus your pictures are giving me ideas...

    Oh, and I didn't answer your question! I change on an as-needed basis because the poops get bigger with the chicks and how dense the population is makes a huge difference. You don't want ammonia smell at all or feet to be crusty but I suspect that most of us change it more often than is necessary.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  9. TheCrazyChick

    TheCrazyChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have seven 8-week-olds that just moved to the Big Girls Coop yesterday. I changed the litter every few days (after 3 days of just paper towels) for the first few weeks when they were in a small brooder. At 2 1/2 weeks I built and moved them into a larger brooder and put in fresh pine shavings. Never changed or cleaned the litter after that move. There was no smell whatsoever and they were thriving, so I figured this was the start of my deep litter method, just earlier than I thought it would be.

    When I moved them to the big coop outdoors yesterday, I put about 4-5 inches of pine shavings and then filled a big rubbermaid tub with the "old" litter from the brooder and then I dumped that on top of the fresh pine shavings! My logic is that the old stuff has some really good microbes going on in there, so it will help the new stuff turn into some great DLM (composted) quicker.

    I also have a mini-run under the new coop that in about 5-7 days they will be allowed to access through a pop door in the floor of the coop. I plan on filling that run's floor (which is hardware cloth over dirt) with the rest of the DLM from the brooder, a little bit of fresh shavings, shredded leaves and shredded paper ... and moving a bunch of my current compost pile in there, too, for them to start working on. I hope that combination will create some heat that will protect them a bit in the coop (this OH winter has been a @#$%^).

    When the large attached run is built closer to spring, I will then rake the stuff from under the coop into the new run (and start a new compost pile in there as well), sweep the litter from inside the coop down into the lower run through the floor pop door, and add fresh to the coop itself, leaving behind a bit of the old stuff to keep it cooking.

    Some people think it is unhealthy to do the DLM in a brooder, as they feel the chicks will not have the antibodies to fight off the germs that may be associated with it. I feel just the opposite, as how can they built up antibodies if they aren't exposed to germs?

    With all that being said, I am a bonafide NEWBIE to all this. My two cents is only from personal experience and not scientifically tested, per se. Works for me, though!
     
  10. Roxannemc

    Roxannemc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What a good idea!
     

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