Outdoor Brooding - Setup Ideas?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by lpyrbby, Dec 16, 2016.

  1. lpyrbby

    lpyrbby Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm participating in the NYD hatch. I have a large animal cage by Living World that I'm going to move the chicks to from the incubator and I now have an electric hen (heat plate brooder). I want to move the chicks outside as soon as is reasonable but I guess I need some encouraging words and some ideas to make sure I get things set up for them in a way that will be good for them and "easy" for me to manage too (cleaning, etc.).

    I have an open air hoop coop. I live in SC and the temps are really swinging some days. For instance, the high today was in the forties. Tomorrow, it's set to be 70, 77 on Sunday, then like 48 for a high on Monday or Tuesday. Lows are "generally" in the 30s in January, but some nights can get into the 20s.

    Here's the interior space of the coop with an idea I *wanted* to set up in the coop, but the "lid" just WON'T work in that space (it's the remaining puppy pen panels covered with feed bags). There would be too much of a gap from the perimeter fence and the lid since I'd planned on trying to "hinge it" from the cattle panel on the hoop. It's too wide to just rest on top. The roost is in the way. I can move it a little bit, but there's only so much room for me to fit on the other side as it is if I need to get there.


    Here's a photo of it without the pen:


    Now, I have a friend that's borrowing my 3x3x8 pvc introduction pen that's wrapped in hardware cloth and zip tied all to hell. I should be able to get it back before the chicks hatch. I had it set up next to the coop at one point. These pics are from back in the summer.



    This seems more ideal, but holy crap would it be "fun" to have to crawl into on a regular basis to clean or raise the electric hen, and I'd be risking squishing some chicks because it's almost a one way in/out time for me being about 5'9" [​IMG]

    I have some 6x8 tarps I can use to cover portions off from the wind/weather.

    I've also considered just moving the animal cage into the coop, but I would have to find a way to cover at least a portion of one end to shield from stray poo from roosting birds. The top has two curved lids that open independently and there is a small door on the side that could be opened up. Also, if I used this, could I use cardboard to help cover around the sides and possibly top on one section of the cage? I can get some pretty sturdy boxes/cardboard from work.


    Any input/ideas/concerns? Are there more creative ideas that I might be able to make use of that don't involve putting in a lot more $$$?
  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Flock Master

    Apr 6, 2014
    Melrose Park Illinois
    How soon do you intend to put chicks into outdoor brooder? The open air coop is great, but for little chicks, and such temperature swings, it may not be so Ideal. For best results,and if possible try to keep the chicks indoor at least 2 weeks or so. JMO. Otherwise you may encounter losses that could have been prevented. Everyone's situation is of course unique to their circumstances.
  3. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    Looks absolutely perfect! The kennel will provide a draft-free area. And they will be able to interact safely with the adults. I do think that the pen should be covered, though, to keep out the adults and to keep the chicks in. A tarp will work fine for that. At 3 or 4 weeks old, you can open up some chick-sized holes for them.
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    When you say "mother hen" specifically, what are you talking about? Are you talking about one of the solid heated brooders, like Brinsea, or are you talking about making a heating pad brooder? The heating pad brooder would work well outside, if you're talking about the former, you need to check and see what outside temps it is designed for.
  5. lpyrbby

    lpyrbby Chillin' With My Peeps

    I hadn't even considered using a tarp! I may have to revisit the puppy pen idea :)

    As soon as is reasonable (not 30 degrees and/or rainy out LOL). I kinda see them staying in the house for about a week before we move them outside, so we can work on handling them and keep an eye on them and make sure nothing detrimental is sneaking up on them.

    I was talking about the plate type, so very good question! I just checked the booklet that came with it and there aren't any ambient operating temp guidelines with it. I'll see if their website has any input on it. Good call!

    As a side note, we added some straw bales around the outside of the covered coop section. We still need more to make it really draft free, but it's what we could do right now.

  6. lpyrbby

    lpyrbby Chillin' With My Peeps

    The company, Titan Incubators (a UK company - but my electric hen is for use in the US), responded to my inquiry and advised that the cooler it is around the "hen" the cooler the "hen" will be. I think I'm going to do a test run next weekend with it outside, just to see if I can determine if it'll warm up enough. I know that's going to be hard though, considering what I've read about these heat plate types and how they use radiant contact heat as opposed to heating the air.
  7. lpyrbby

    lpyrbby Chillin' With My Peeps

    Well. Now that the chicks have since hatched and are 2 weeks old AND the temps are finally starting to cooperate a bit, I'm about ready to move the chicks outside. I have 13 and they're getting feathers in quickly. They're also quickly becoming cramped in my cage brooder! So, that idea is out the window.

    Truth be told, after the chicks hatched, my husband voiced his interest in keeping the chicks to see them grow up. Soooooo what are we doing? Well, a carport is being installed on the 20th and we're going to build a second coop, which should allow me enough room to have an in-coop brooder that I can actually stand up in. That said, the chicks still need to be moved outdoors sooner than later. I pulled my introduction pen around to the chicken yard today and have it very close to being ready for the chicklings.

    I have the pen on the outside of the chicken yard since we'll likely need to pick this whole thing up and move it to the carport coop once we get done with it. I also won't have to worry about nosy hens and a spicy roo up my butt either [​IMG]

    There's one tarp that is wrapped around the very end, then a second to kinda bring over more shelter to prevent possible sideways rain.

    I may still need to slide a piece of wood or something to cover that gap next to the fence.

    That box contraption...well, we were burning boxes this weekend and I managed to pick out two of the boxes our frozen venison comes in from the processor. It's thick and "presumably" a bit more insulating. I nested pieces together, took one apart for the top, and then took a few screws to the box to try to help secure things [​IMG] We didn't have enough duct tape to do the job so screws it is!

    I need to get some more pine flakes, OR, I may just rake up some dried leaves and throw them in. Seems like it would be more enjoyable.

    We have security cameras and I chose this side so that it's in direct view of the camera. The other alternative is our tree-lined driveway which is too close to the woods for my liking.

    I still need to decide on how I want to provide them water during the day (will probably just use a couple of the quart sized waterers). I'm guessing I'll need to pull their food at night too. I will also need to crawl inside and weave the power plug through some holes that are punched out in the cardboard and the side of the pen itself. We need to get one of those plug connection protectors though, since it'll be outside and at risk of the elements. I think I may also pick up a "Smile, you're on camera" sign to stick on the coop, just in case someone decides they want to come try to steal my chicks during the day lol.

    Hopefully we can get the carport coop up in record time so we can get the old and new birds integrated sooner than later.
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