Pooping machines in brooder! How do you manage?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Shutter Up, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. Shutter Up

    Shutter Up In the Brooder

    This is my first foray into meat birds. I ordered 50 Cornish Cross from Meyer - and WOW - I know birds poop - I raised other chicks in brooder to full laying hens but is it just me or do these Cornish Cross poop a lot!

    The brooder I am using is a wood sided and bottom with full mesh hinged lid, roughly 2' * 3' and 20" deep. I drilled 1/2" holes about every 3-4" along the bottom sides just to help with air circulation. The brooder is in my barn.

    I have 2-3" of hay that the cockerels are on in the brooder - every day - there seems to be a "carpet" of "built up poo/food mash" that has turned the brooder into a nasty habitat! Just in time to remove everything, bleach out the brooder, install fan to dry it out and start over.

    When I first got the birds - about 3 weeks ago - I was doing the brooder about every 3-4 days. In a weeks time (boy do these birds grow quick!) they doubled in size and I was cleaning every 2 days. Now I do this daily. And it seems - if I could clean more every 12 hours - it would be better!

    Is this normal?

    I've got 50 more birds coming, this time from McMurray in a week - I want to have this brooder thing figured out and if a better system is needed - find out what that is and get it into place.

    I was thinking about those large "see through" plastic bins at Walmart - the big ones - what are they - 50 gallon - something like that? Set up 2-3 of them side by side with wire "lids" that I would rotate birds into and out of while previous bins are being cleaned. Seems the plastic would harbor less bacteria and stink - would be easier to clean, dries way quicker and overall healthier?

    I appreciate your help!

  2. Mehjr10

    Mehjr10 Songster

    May 17, 2012
    Moscow, TN
    I my experiences with growing these out is that they are really good at three things Input, Output an Growing.. At about 3 weeks mine will go outside into a chicken tractor which gets moved after a couple of days.. It sounds like you would benefit from a larger area, if i am reading you post correctly 6sqft is not enough room for 50 birds that will very quickly be 4lb at 4-5 weeks of age. The large plastic tubs work well until they get too crowded, it is what i use but i use pine shavings..

    Some will make a low wire pen 2' tall with a wire top that is easy to move.
  3. Shutter Up

    Shutter Up In the Brooder

    My correction - 35 Cornish Cross this first time. 50 coming.

    Anyway - yeah, its too many birds in a tight box. Their pasture pens are ready - they are currently growing feathers on their bodies - their wings are pretty well feathered but their backs and backsides are still quite bare.

    Its about 65* at night here and 87* during the day. Is it too cool at night to put them in pasture now?

    I'm headed to Walmart to buy 4 super large plastic bins to use for brooders instead of the wood box system I am using right now. Will limit to 25 birds per container. The super large bins are probably going to give the birds more room then what they have right now.

    Any other suggestions?

    Should I use pine shavings instead of hay?
  4. doop

    doop In the Brooder

    Jul 5, 2011
    n.e minnesota
    I built amy brooder with quarter inch hardware mesh floor, and cover it with cardboard and then pine shaving for the first week. After the first week I remove card board and the droppings go right through it is much easier to keep feeder and water clean also. My side's are also hardware mesh, and I cover them with tarp or cardboard until they start to feather depending on temps.
    1 person likes this.
  5. Shutter Up

    Shutter Up In the Brooder

    I always heard the hardware cloth was rough on their feet? Would definetly make clean up way easier though!
  6. Mehjr10

    Mehjr10 Songster

    May 17, 2012
    Moscow, TN
    With the meaties and hardware cloth, their poos are so massive at times that they would clog even hardware cloth, on a pen that i used for my first small batch I did. After that I went the tractor route.
  7. Todd S

    Todd S In the Brooder

    Aug 21, 2013
    I'm doing my first batch too. 21 of them. Yesterday (Tuesday) was a week since I had them and I put them outside on Saturday 6 days old. I made a tractor for them and the covered half has a heat lamp and pine chips. They do matt it down really quickly so I've been using a little garden tool to work up the bedding each time I check on them. They really like the grass and bugs. It's in the 60s at night and they do huddle under the lamp but they still eat over night and once the sun is up they are running around the pen.

    I hope that helps.

    They seem at least twice as bing now, maybe more, and super active.
  8. bowhunter862

    bowhunter862 Chirping

    Apr 28, 2013
    Hazelton, WV
    Short answer is YES!! Just wait til they are 7-8 weeks old. WOW!! I have an "Ohio" style hover brooder in my 12X12 coop. Letting them have that entire area to run around makes the poop let noticeable at first. It's there. It's just spread out. I put 73 in the brooder yesterday afternoon. I know there is a poop storm brewing and I'm afraid. LOL!!
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2013
  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Op--move those birds to pasture pens, and give them more space! Are you saying you have 35 birds in 6 feet of space! That's a recipe for sick birds right there......

    Meaties tolerate cold better than heat. I'd move them now, and raise your next batch in the pasture pens, using a heat lamp for the first few weeks. Usually by 4 weeks I had my meaties off the heat.
  10. thriftyfarmer

    thriftyfarmer In the Brooder

    Aug 24, 2013
    We raise Cornish Cross broilers and here is what we do in the brooder.

    Bedding: Wood shavings at least 4 inches deep. Before each new batch we stir the old bedding as deep as possible with with a rake or cultivating rake (4 long teeth) and here lately I have been using a Mantis Tiller. Works Great! Then I add a couple of inches of new wood shavings before the new chicks go in. I never have any smell or visible layering of manure. They love to scratch around and this helps to mix their manure in with the dry bedding. As the layers build up the bedding starts to compost and creates HEAT! this is awesome because it is FREE brooding heat! At the end of the year we clean out the brooder and pile up the bedding for compost. This year we used it on the garden and WOW... best garden we have ever grown.

    Space: Each cornish cross is grown for 21 days in the brooder and we allow for 0.5 square feet per chick or 2 chicks per square feet. Our brooder is about 20 X 20 feet or 400 square feet. I don't like to put more than 800 chicks in for each batch... hence why we do 700 chick batches.

    Heat: We use propane hover brooders, but I'm thinking about some new brooding techniques. Anyone use anything that doesn't use light or open flame? I saw a brooder once that used hot water through pipes that were close to the bedding so the chicks could cuddle up to them like hens. Anyone use the EcoGlow 50?

    Water: We only use nipple drinkers along the wall. Helps avoid a mess. One important note: you need to raise the nipple drinkers up as the chicks grow bigger.

    Feed and Grit: We feed a 19% protein ration that is custom milled and put it in trays and troughs. We also use lots of grit from Gran-I-Grit. I start with "starter" grit (very small size) and switch to "grower" grit when they go to the field at 21 days. I usually put down grit twice a day starting on day 3 in the brooder until day 10. Then I put it down once a day until about day 17. Then every other day until day 21. We feed grit in the field once a week, though I think they might benefit having it free choice all the time. Anyone feeding free choice grit to cornish cross broilers?

    Great Book: Pasture Poultry Profit$ by Joel Salatin. He covers all the bases. For you specifically there is a ton of info on brooding and even a cool graph that shows the temperature that chicks can handle at each day of life. For instance, by age 21 they can handle 34ºF.

    Hope this helps!

    Last edited: Aug 30, 2013
    1 person likes this.

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