Late night brooder thinking

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by morgannn, Aug 3, 2016.

  1. morgannn

    morgannn Out Of The Brooder

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    So I've been doing some late night thinking tonight about brooders... I have heard lots of good things about an ostrich feather duster to simulate a mama hen. But I thought..maybe you could put a shallow pan/dish underneath with some straw arranged in a nest shape to really seem like a nest? What do y'all think? Also, I read an article where the guy put the nonstick shelf liner stuff down as bedding in the brooder. I would assume that this would be super easy to clean. I always had a problem with my last chicks with getting feed all in the shavings then not eating it. So maybe the shelf liner floor with a "nest" to sleep in? Thoughts??? :)
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    I think you're over thinking it. The bigger question, in my mind is this: How many chicks, how big is the brooder, and what are you using as a heat source?

    Check out this article. https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yes-you-certainly-can-brood-chicks-outdoors.

    The biggest mistake people make with brooders is keeping the chicks too warm. They need to be able to get AWAY from the heat. A brooder that is too small makes that impossible, especially if they are using some sort of heat lamp.

    As far as feed goes, try raising your feed up off the floor or putting the feeder in a box lid so they can't kick shavings into it. If it's in a box lid, you have the option of removing the feeder until they clean up what they've spilled. It's their nature to want to scratch in the litter for food morsels. That's how they feed when out free ranging.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    My Lazy friend makes excellent points. But go ahead and try out your ideas on real chicks. It's the best way to see what works and what doesn't. I have a long list of failures and even a few successes under my belt in this area. Sometimes trying out new ideas results in an amazing revelation that may change the way you raise chicks going forward.

    One of my experiments involved one of your issues - feed scattered and wasted. I fermented the chick feed and then experimented with a way to feed it so the chicks wouldn't try to plow it with their tiny feet. Fermenting the feed is an excellent way to eliminated or drastically reduce waste when feeding a flock as well as chicks. But the challenge can be in a way to feed it.

    For chicks, I finally stumbled onto the best way to feed fermented feed is from containers that are too small to invite chicks to climb in and wade around, making a mess of themselves and everything else around. It involves using a small two inch diameter plastic cup glued to something heavy to prevent it easily being tipped over. I use the cups that come with icing in the breakfast sweet rolls you bake yourself.

    Regarding the brooding issue, the best way to provide heat and cozy comfort to baby chicks is to use the heating pad system. It is far superior to a heat lamp and a feather duster, and chicks experience direct contact with a soft warm surface as close to a real broody hen's underside as you can get without the real thing. See Blooie's thread on this topic for details.
     
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  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    And, Azygous comes to the rescue, with recommendation for fermented feed, and the perfect way to allow chicks to get the benefits without the keeper having to deal with the inevitable food play that all youngsters engage in. Also, check out her "panic room for integration". You may not need it now, but certainly will with your next brood!
     
  5. morgannn

    morgannn Out Of The Brooder

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    May 7, 2016
    I had a 2'x4' brooder this past year. I had a heat lamp on one side that I moved farther away as they grew and feed and water on the other. I did raise the food and water containers up as the chicks grew. I had the kind with a mason jar and screw on bottom. The biggest problem seemed to be they would flick food everywhere with their beaks, not usually their feet. Also, I had two bantams in with regular sized chickens so that limited me on being able to raise the feeders too much.
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    I ultimately had this setup, (ignore the heat lamp it wasn't being used but was still there) but chickens would scratch shavings to the other side fairly quickly still. I also thought that they would eat the food left on the paper-nope. Completely ignored it and would rather eat shavings than that when their feeder was empty. Maybe I just have very particular chicks ;)
     
  6. morgannn

    morgannn Out Of The Brooder

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    May 7, 2016
    I think I might try it next year-if it doesn't work then I can always go back to shavings. I also would like to try a heating pad, it seems like a great idea. Sounds like the chicks would have lots of space to roam instead of being in one corner if they get too hot from a lamp.
     
  7. yyz0yyz0

    yyz0yyz0 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had this same problem with a similar type feeder. What I did to reduce the food waste was to take apart the feeder and cut a piece of 1/2" HW cloth to fit inside the feeder just under the feed ports. This means they can stick their beak through the hw cloth to eat but they can't shovel it out of the port with their beaks.
    I have another feeder with the ports around the base, I simply took some masking tape and used it to reduce the size of the port holes they use to access the food. Not ideal but it did reduce the waste.
     
  8. morgannn

    morgannn Out Of The Brooder

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    That is super smart! I'll have to convince my parents to let me get some more babies so I can try out all of these ideas
     

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