New to chickens and need first few days detailed advice


11 Years
Apr 25, 2009
South Texas
I've read books, searched the internet, and back-read BYC forums for my answers, but I haven't found exactly what I'm looking for. I appreciate all the help and advice you can give!

Thank you in advance for your time!

1. The following pictures are of the brooder I borrowed from a colleague. I have 25 chicks shipping to me Monday and if this is not sufficient, then I need to come up with something else. I will only be keeping ~8 out of 25, but I was hoping for a week or two to figure out which ones I really wanted since I've invested so much money into these chicks. My question is, is this brooder big enough to hold 25 chicks for ~ 2 weeks? Dimensions are 27inches x 28inches. I know the 4 inches per bird, but the number is temporary. There is an opening through the board splitting the brooder so the chicks can get away from the light.

1a. Will this brooder be big enough to hold 8 chicks for about 5 weeks?

2. I live in south east Texas (about an hour from Houston), and our forecast temperatures for the next several days is 92-95 degrees. I had planned on keeping the critter proof brooder on the back porch. I have had a thermometer in there to check temperatures and it gets up to 100 in the afternoon. Is this too hot? I know they are supposed to be at 90-95 the first week and then lowered from there. What do I do if it's still in the mid to upper 90's?? Do I need to rethink the back porch until they're older?

3. When the chicks arrive, I know to check for pasty butt right away. I know to cover my pine pellet bedding with paper towels for the first few days. I have read some people dip the birds beaks, some don't. I have read to sprinkle chick starter on the paper towels. Do I need to make a mash of some sort by mixing the chick starter with water?

3a. There is currently a white light bulb in the brooder lamp, but the red light bulb we bought is 250 watts. I am going to try and find a dimmer switch to plug the lamp into, but I'm afraid it will just be too hot. The brooder walls are pretty high though. Do I leave the low wattage bulb or come up with a way to make the red bulb work for the "calmness" factor?

4. I've read not to handle them much for the first two days or so. Is this true as well?

5. This thread has pictures of my coop. I posted them in the coop section and asked for feedback, and people said really nice things, but I need to know if I've forgotten anything. What do I need to do to make sure my babies make it? I'm going to add another latch to the bottom of the gate. There is poultry netting buried under the sides and bricks/pavers lining the front and back. Will this be suitable accommodations for 8 birds? I plan on letting them in the back yard during the day.

6. Is there anything else I'm forgetting? I've got electrolytes and some gro gel I think (I've got to find what I did with the stuff...). I just don't want to screw this up.

7. This is a weird/newbie question, but I've got to mow the yard about once a week... Will the loud noise this stress the birds out? Anything I can do to help them not be scared?

Thank you SO much for your time!!

**** Edited to add:
I found a box in the garage that's about 2' wide x 4' long with 2' sides. How's this sound as a brooder?
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Overrun with ducklings :)
10 Years
May 27, 2009
I'm a newbie too but it looks big enough to me. I think I would try to find a cooler place for them. I have mine in the garage where it stays pretty cool even when the temps get too high outside (not that that has been a problem here yet). I think they will be fine with the lawn mower. Good luck! I have babies shipping out from McMurry today. Is that where yours are coming from?


In the Brooder
10 Years
Apr 25, 2009
Pretty new myself, but here is info from what I've read and also what I've experienced over the last two weeks...

Re. 3a: Make sure you have some way to regulate the height of the heat lamp over the brooder. That's one way you can regulate the temperature.

I didn't have a thermometer, and I read that if the chicks are all huddling real close together under the heat lamp, it's probably too cold. If they are all spread out away from the heat lamp, maybe it's too hot. They should be ranging around the brooder if the temp is right.

(Hopefully someone more experienced can confirm my advice here. Thanks.)


Bird of A Different Feather
11 Years
Dec 20, 2008
Boise, Idaho
I'm not an expert but I have never lost a chick.
that looks big enough. i regularly use a large plastic storage tub for 25 chicks for the first 2 weeks, then I move them to a space that is 24"x48" until they are 4-5 weeks.
Water and feed you don't have to add water to the mash - i don't, just make sure to dip their beaks in the water so they know where it is.
I also don't use the paper towels mine have always gone staight onto shavings and done great.
I keep my heat lamp hanging so I can easily raise or lower it to adjust temperature.


11 Years
Apr 25, 2009
South Texas
I appreciate the feedback thus far. I was reluctant to keep the chickens in the garage because there's no natural light in there unless I keep the garage door cracked. I'll put the thermometer in there today.

I'd like more answers especially in regards to my chicken coop. Please keep the information coming!

Sunny Side Up

Count your many blessings...
11 Years
Mar 12, 2008
Loxahatchee, Florida
Set up your brooder box so the chicks can move in & out of the warmth as needed. They shouldn't be huddled together in one spot, not right under the light & not far away from it, that's an indication that they're too cold or too hot. When they're just right, they'll run around for a bit on the cooler side, then run back to get warm if needed. That's what they do with a mama hen, she takes them right out into the world but stays close by so they can nestle under her to warm up.

So I'd keep them off that 100-degree porch, but keep them somewhere more moderate, with a light for heat if they need it. I just use a regular desk lamp, you may not need a red light unless they're pecking at each other & drawing blood.

And I don't think the lawn mower will scare them unless you're running it right next to their brooder box. Unless you're looking for an excuse to let the grass grow, and then yes, don't run the lawn mower for at least 6 weeks!


Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
South Georgia
The 90-95 for the first week and drop 5 a week is intended for brooding chicks in winter/early spring, as a guide for how much heat to add. There is no reason not to brood your chicks on the back porch, if there is shade and some breeze. They won't need any additional heat in the middle of the day, even the day you get them, and won't need any at night for long, maybe 3 weeks. The trick is going to be to keep them cool enough during the heat of the day without getting them in a draft for a few weeks. I wouldn't worry about the dimmer switch; you won't need 250W. Many brood with white light. Unless you get serious pecking, it is fine.

I don't agree with other posters here about brooder size. 0.5 sq ft per chick for the first 4 weeks, then more, is as small as I would go. So for 25 chicks, that's about 12 sq ft, or 3'X4', much larger than your brooder. You could pick out your 8 right away and keep them in there a few days. You probably won't have to watch them for more than a day or two before you know who you want. I had 50 in about 25 sq ft and it was barely big enough for 4 weeks. And I would be concerned about a wood sided brooder. They are going to need good air exchange in this heat.

You will be able to put them in the coop at around 3 weeks in this weather, I would imagine, without trying to guess your lows, and even at that age they will need shade.

If I were you, I'd find a refrigerator shipping box, watermelon box, or the like. Set a desk lamp on a chair next to it, and you've got brooder and warmth. And something you can cut all the holes you want in, for ventilation.

Limiting handling at the beginning I assume is to limit frightening them. I personally think the trick is not to chase them down. They will have to learn that THE HAND is not going to devour them. Lay your hand in the brooder with a little feed or yogurt on it and let them check you out! And just sit nearby. Later you can put a little food or treat on your shoes or near your feet and let them continue to check you out. If they're comfortable sitting on your hand, I don't see why you can't pick them up at that point.

Yeah, the lawn mower will scare them. So will passing shadows, your hand, a door slamming... you name it. They will adjust!


10 Years
Apr 7, 2009
7. This is a weird/newbie question, but I've got to mow the yard about once a week... Will the loud noise this stress the birds out? Anything I can do to help them not be scared?

I mow pretty close to the run. The first time the chickens ran circles around each other. The next time was not so bad, and now they ignore me and just keep scratching.

Good luck with your chicks - you'll have so much fun


11 Years
Apr 25, 2009
South Texas
Quote:Thank you so much! This is exactly the type of information I was looking for! I think I may be s.o.l. when it comes to a large box. I could most likely swing a swimming pool though. I didn't even think about the poor air exchange in the brooder. There's only about a 12"x24" hole in the top covered with hardware cloth.

Other information or idea still welcome!!

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