What size brooder / Would glass tank work

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Shylis, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. Shylis

    Shylis Out Of The Brooder

    26
    0
    22
    Mar 28, 2011
    Lee's Summit, MO
    I do not have chicks yet but hopefully will later this spring. I am in my "research phase" right now and I haven't really been able to find anything with reguards to what size the brooder should be. Most things I've read so far just say a cardbord box is a suitable brooder, single use. And I've read that metal stock tanks make great multi-use brooders, but again, they didn't specify what size for how many chicks. I will have a maximum of 6 chicks, and I don't plan on breeding any time soon. I simply wont have the room for anything like that until after my fiance and I are married and have moved out of town*. Anyway, my question is, what size box/container should I use for 4-6 chicks? Also, is a glass tank, if large enough, a suitable brooder? What are the pros/cons? I have several tanks of various sizes in storage and I don't plan on using them for anything any time soon.
     
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Brooder boxes need to be many more times larger than what beginners often think. Chicks need room to move, jump and fly about. Also, these are fast growing animals, growing from hatch to reproducing adults in less than 6 months. They do not stay cute fuzz balls for long.

    Further, chicks need to be able to move into or out of the heat lamp circle as needed. Too hot is much worse than a bit cool. Chicks cook pretty easy. Glass aquariums are troublesome because they tend to let sunlight in, which could raise daytime temps rapidly. For 4 chicks, I'd consider a box, 3 feet by 4 feet as your target point. Slightly larger would even be better.

    If it is cardboard, it is easy to dispose when finished.
     
  3. dbounds10

    dbounds10 Chillin' With My Peeps

    631
    4
    131
    Mar 15, 2011
    Fort Worth, Tx
    I have 6 chicks that have been here for 2 weeks now. We started with a huge cardboard box but quickly learned that with spilling water and constant pecking we needed something better. I got one of these:

    http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4056280&lmdn=Pet+Size&ab=pt_crates_large

    The X-Large one and it is 8.1 sq feet. It has a removable plastic pan that I cover in pine shavings and can take out to clean. The box it comes in can easily be cut and zip tied to the walls to keep them from getting out and keep drafts off of them. I will be adding chicken wire to the exposed areas soon as they are close to flying up and squeezing out of the bars.

    Here are a couple pics:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  4. suzyQlou

    suzyQlou Chillin' With My Peeps

    155
    5
    101
    Mar 12, 2011
    Dillsburg, PA
    My Coop
    Here is an awesome thread that is mentioned in the sticky topic. I wish I had read it BEFORE I had my chicks. It shows what people have used as brooders, and how they have expanded them to fit their chicks as they quickly grew out of their first brooder.

    backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=6233

    I started with a cardboard box when I thought I was getting 3 chicks. I expanded to a large rubbermade tote when TSC sold me their 6 chick minimum. At 3 weeks, I've expanded again into a 4x4 space. I'm learning as I go!
     
  5. mommto3kiddos

    mommto3kiddos Chillin' With My Peeps

    644
    1
    131
    Mar 9, 2011
    We used a Rubber Maid tub for 3 weeks, but the girls quickly outgrew it. We them moved to a large dog kennel! Check your local craigslist, I have seen dog cages the size we use for $20 and under on there!

    A fish tank will not work for long!
     
  6. Shylis

    Shylis Out Of The Brooder

    26
    0
    22
    Mar 28, 2011
    Lee's Summit, MO
    Brooder boxes need to be many more times larger than what beginners often think. Chicks need room to move, jump and fly about. Also, these are fast growing animals, growing from hatch to reproducing adults in less than 6 months. They do not stay cute fuzz balls for long.

    Excuse me if I'm wrong, but this seems rather condisending to me. I am not a child and I know chicks grow quickly. I am not getting them because they are cute and fuzzy, I want to raise them for eggs.

    With that said, thank you for the rest of your post. I have been looking online for info, but hadn't been able to find anything for what size to use.

    Thank you to everyone else who has posted so far.


    The options I have on hand are:

    large wire dog crate (2ft x 3ft)

    large glass tank (2ft x 4 ft) *Will be inside in a room with no windows. So no threat of sun over heating the tank.


    Options I can easily get for free:

    large appliance boxes, such as for stoves, 'fridges, etc.​
     
  7. mommto3kiddos

    mommto3kiddos Chillin' With My Peeps

    644
    1
    131
    Mar 9, 2011
    With a fish tank I think it would maybe get to hot. And ventelation would be poor. I would def go for the dog crate you have!~ [​IMG]
     
  8. lemongrass

    lemongrass Out Of The Brooder

    77
    0
    29
    Mar 16, 2011
    Maryland, US
    I read a fantastic book (http://www.nortoncreekpress.com/success_with_baby_chicks.html) called Success With Baby Chicks. It outlines a brooder that is made of wood, easy to make. A 2 foot by 2 foot box houses about 25 chicks -- HOWEVER... the way the box is made, the chicks can easily move (and often do) inside and outside the box. The box is suspended above the ground on legs and the "walls" only go to about 4 inches above the ground (until you raise it as the chickens grow). Inside the box you put the brooder light and voila, a warm space they can go to or escape from whenever they please. Right now my 11 chicks are in the barn with this brooder, in a stall that is probably ... 10' by 8'? I think I could probably fit my 27 new ones in there easily but they get big FAST.

    I start my chicks inside for the first week. Mortality is high in the first week and I like to keep a close eye on them and make sure they stay safe until they are bigger. Right now I have 27 2-3 day olds in a plastic tote I got from Walmart. In my opinion it is too small for 27, but unfortunately I don't have a choice right now. Since the weather is getting warmer, this batch might be moved outside before the first week is up, and the older ones moved out! They'll be 5 weeks soon and the weather is warm enough that they can go out.

    So far I haven't had any die, but I just started and I think I've been pretty lucky. I know its normal to lose a few.

    I really like the dog crate idea shown here... very nice. I did the plastic tote (its clear, if that makes any difference) because my fiance was too nervous about the wooden one we made not working. He wanted to keep a closer eye on them so we built my brooder -- the wooden one, and his brooder -- the plastic one he found from a website. I think the website mentioned one could fit 20-30 chicks in these totes at day one and they had multiple of them so they could thin the numbers out per box as they grew. Quite frankly, I don't have the money to be buying / running that many brooders, so mine just get the boot and go outside! Besides they love it out there better-- more room, more neat stuff to explore, etc.

    The book I got was like 15 bucks and the brooder didn't cost much to make. It took my fiance and I a few hours. It was a fun project for a sunny day [​IMG] I completely contribute my luck/success with my chicks thus far to this book, so I'd rather not go spilling all the details about how to make it. Also, I don't think I trust myself to explain it properly... the book goes into a lot of detail with sizes and how many chicks will fit in how much space, etc. Also, it has a lot of good info on how to progress through the brooding period to have happy, healthy chicks [​IMG]
     
  9. MyKidLuvsGreenEgz

    MyKidLuvsGreenEgz Chillin' With My Peeps

    875
    0
    119
    Jan 11, 2011
    Colorado Plains
    I agree. The fish tank would get way too hot.

    If you have no big boxes, use several. I made the "chick tunnels" with several boxes. Cut holes towards the bottom to connect (using duct tape). Make sure the holes are a couple of inches from the bottom to help keep in the pine shavings or whatever litter you use. Then I connect a plastic tub to the box maze for the feeders and waterers. Plastic is so much easier to clean! Raise the waterers a little, like on a scrap flat piece of wood. Same with the feeders because they will try to scratch out the food even at a couple of days old. It's natural but really messy! Especially if it's right by the water.

    Place your heat lamp over one or two of the boxes (depends on how many chicks you get and how many boxes you have in your tunnel system). They'll congregate in the boxes with the heat lamps when they need to but will move out when they feel comfy, or in search of food. I don't put a heat lamp over the plastic food tub. They aren't in there longer than five minutes at a time. When you notice them not going where the heat lamps are, I'd turn one off for a while and observe to see if they start spending more time with the one still left on. If they are comfy, leave that one off and just keep the one on.

    Way-over-estimate how much room you'll need. I'm sure the other person didn't mean to be condescending but it's really amazing at how quickly they grow out of the cute fuzz-ball stage into the gangly ... part-down/part-feather/part-scrawny teen stage. Not attractive but big and awkward, and ready to rumble!
     
  10. Shylis

    Shylis Out Of The Brooder

    26
    0
    22
    Mar 28, 2011
    Lee's Summit, MO
    I would rather not spend to much on making a brooder, as I am not going to be breeding any time in the near future and these will be my only chicks for a while. But I will definatly look up that book for when I do.

    I was already leaning more towards the dog crate and I really like how the one dbounds10 posted is set up. Would the dog crate be large enough for 6 chicks? Once they get a little bigger, I will be taking them outside to a temperary pen for a bit when it's nice until they move on to the coop, which I will have to build. Or a better question I guess, how long whould I be able to keep them in that before moving them outside (weather permiting).
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by