newbe has brooder questions.

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by henpeckedmuch, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. henpeckedmuch

    henpeckedmuch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 25, 2011
    I'm supposed to have 25 LF chicks sent to me soon, and have several questions.
    I thought to start out keeping them in the house in a cardboard box for the first 2 weeks.
    Then I would like to move them out to the garage for the next 4 weeks or so.
    I thought I would construct a plywood brooder for the garage with a wire floor.

    Question 1--How big of a cardboad box do I need?
    Question 2-- Would a 4ft x 8ft x 18in. high plywood brooder be big enough for the garage?
    Question 3-- I'm told that I need to give them very fine chick grit, is that true or is there grit already in their food?
    Question 4-- Will the commercial chick lamp (I think it is a 250w light) keep them warm enough in the garage, It sometimes gets down in the 20's here at night. I will have a floor and litter for them.
    Thank you for any input you might give.
  2. LaynaDon95

    LaynaDon95 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2012
    They won't need as much space at first but by the time they are ready to leave the brooder and a few weeks before. they will need 1 sq. foot of space per bird. I you have 25 then 4x8 ft won't be enough.
    Plywood with a wire floor would be fine.

    I think chick grit is optional. I've know people to raise their chicks without it and they did fine. I don't even give my older hens grit. There are plenty of small rocks outside.

    I'm not sure about heat lamps myself. I'm still researching that.
    I'll be brooding my hatchlings (due in Feb.) indoors so I'll probably use nothing larger than 100 watts but probably less.
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    The 4x8 will be big enough, JUST, but you'll have to get them moved out at 5 or 6 weeks, so get your grow out pen or coop ready NOW. It will never be tall enough. You'll need to drape a poly netting over the top. Yes, they fly quickly.

    Scan my brooder setup on my BYC page. It has photos and details. You'll need multiple lamps, as I do, to regulate the heat, as needed. I use an array of different wattages. Different combinations provide different amounts of heat. The link to my page is in blue below in this post.

    Grit is NOT needed if all you feed them is prepared Chick Gro crumbles. It is really mushy stuff. Once they eat bugs, worm, grass and so forth, you'll have to either provide grit, or allow them access to sand, pebbles, gravels, etc, outdoors.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012
  4. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You might as well get off to a right and good start. First of all, some very important info on baby chicks: they double in size every single week! And by the end of the second week, they will be trying to achieve lift-off with their tiny wings!

    They may look so very tiny and tame at a day old, being walnut sized, but they will be very, very active by the second week. Plan accordingly!

    Also, it has been my experience, having raised a number of batches of chicks now, that chicks raised in a brooder where you can reach in to handle them from the side, you will get far tamer chickens as they mature.

    My first two brooders were cardboard appliance boxes on the floor. I had to bend over, reaching down into the box, and all the chicks saw were these two scary hands diving at them like a hawk. Of course, when it dawned on me that chicks are born with a healthy fear of danger from above, I got busy and designed a brooder I could set up on a table with an access door cut into the side.

    It sure made a huge difference! With the old floor brooder, the chicks got more fearful of me touching them as time passed. With the table brooder, the chicks were trusting from the very beginning, and grew into very easy-to-handle adults. The hens I raised in the floor brooders I still can't catch!

    Make sure the box is deep enough, and eighteen inches is way too shallow. Three feet deep would be better. I cut windows into the other side of the box, and if you place the brooder near a window, the chicks can enjoy natural light. This will help establish a natural waking and sleeping rhythm as they grow, making it easier when you move them to a coop.

    As for fine grit, they don't need it, but I put a small tub of sand in the brooder around the second week so they can dirt bathe. They'll eat some of the sand, and that will serve them well when you begin to introduce new foods such as a lettuce leaf, slice of mellon, even earth worms!

    You can add a creative perch for them to climb on, and other playground equipment. Go nuts! They'll be a source of entertainment that no amount of money could buy!
  5. henpeckedmuch

    henpeckedmuch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 25, 2011
    These are great responses and every one of them has merit. I'm going to use the ideas you have shared starting this week I'm building my new brooder.
  6. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 6, 2011
    Pacific North West
    By the 5 to 6 weeks they will be softball size, wild crazy, to dusty and the odor will be horrendous. The amount of poop that will be produced will surprise you. I would figure out how to get them out in an outside coop by week 4!! They will need in my opinion a double wide refrigerator box up until week 4 and after that holly smokes I would have a outside brooder with 25 hens or so. The garage will have such an odor you will force them outside in a brooder and coop. Good luck!!
  7. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    I brood my Iddy's in their coop. I provide heat & have a cage in the coop. I've found that they will ball up to stay warm at night & during the day they run around climb up on the roost, dust bathe,& do everything that the big girls do. Seems they feather out quicker & are much healthier. Usually, by 4 weeks I can take the heat source away.But, I do live in Texas.[​IMG]
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You might want to read this thread. It will save me a lot of typing and you’ll get a few other opinions. Pay attention to the comments on a draft guard.

    I keep my 3’ x 5’ brooder in my coop from Day 1. I’ve kept 28 full-sized chicks in it until they were 4 weeks old, then it started looking pretty full. Out of those, only 5 were roosters. I’ve kept 21 in it until they were 4-1/2 weeks old and it start looking pretty full. Out of those, 18 were roosters. I think the sex made a difference. Your 4x8 is a lot bigger than my 3x5.

    There is no grit in chick feed. I once sent Purina an e-mail to ask them specifically about grit in their feed and they said it is not there. The feed is ground so fine before it is formed into pellets or crumbles that they do not need grit for them to process it. Their gizzards can crush those pellets or crumbles without any grit. So if all they eat is prepared chicken feed, they do not need grit. As Fred said, if they eat anything else, they need grit. I either take sand and small gravel from a gravel driveway or just take some dirt from the run and give it to the chicks so they have grit. I don’t buy it, but it is pretty cheap and you can buy it if you wish.

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