Winter Brooder Help

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Layla1223, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. Layla1223

    Layla1223 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi, we are thinking about hatching some eggs soon [​IMG] , but we have to have the brooder for the chicks in the garage. Since it is winter, the chicks would have to stay in their brooder untill they are fully feathered and big enough to go in with the bigger chickens. How much space would 2-3 chicks need? I was thinking of maybe a 2 story brooder, having a broody hen in one part and the chicks from the brooder in the other part. But how do you heat both parts? Any other comments/suggestions/advice? Pictures are also greatly appreciated! Thanks [​IMG]
     
  2. midget_farms

    midget_farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dunlap Illinois
    OK - so is the broody hen hatching the chicks? If so - she will keep them plenty warm & you really only need to provide a heat lamp in case they get too chilled. THe broody & the chicks should be kept together if she hatches them & they will need maybe a 5ft by 5ft space - actually most of that space is for the broody - the chicks wont need that much until they are two months old or so.

    If you are hatching eggs in an incubator - then you can use a small plastic storage tub from walmart (especially if its only 3 chicks) - expect 1 to die - it just happens - hopefully yours wont' - but be prepared.

    I don't have any pics - but you can find them online.
     
  3. HorizonSon

    HorizonSon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chicks shipped November 1st. I received them early, on the 3rd. I kept them inside the first, oh, 45 minutes or so. They have been outside ever since. One arrived resembling a feather blanket; and another died within the first few hours. The remaining 24 have been doing very well:



    [​IMG]
     
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  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    You don't need to heat a broody hen. (Well maybe if it is like -20 F).

    For the chicks on their own, I would recommend something with a hover-type top to keep the heat down towards the chicks where they need it.

    Honestly for just 2-3 chicks you can just build a plywood box with a top and with the FRONT being mostly hardwarecloth, and put a lamp in the top (it will NOT need to be a heatlamp, but make sure the box is tall enough that the bulb will be safely out of reach AND if you will EVER EVER want to run a heat lamp in there you need to make it *considerably* tall so that the heatlamp can be safely far from sides and top of box, while remaining at least 18" above the bedding as well)

    If you want to build something that you can use in future for more chicks TOO, go to www.plamondon.com and poke around to find his chicken info and look for what I think he calls an "insulated plywood hover brooder", or something like that. It is pretty simple to build and IME works real well in cool outbuilding-type temperatures.

    How much space you need for your chicks depends on how long they will be in the brooder... but since I would imagine that in an Idaho winter you would want to give them some heat (lightbulb) until they are at least 8-10 weeks old, I would suggest planning AT LEAST something like 4 sq ft per chick (some people would say 1-2 but IME you would have a significant chance of regretting that). It would be different if it were a warmer season.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  5. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

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    Continuing with what Pat is saying this is what I use.

    [​IMG]

    That's the 1943 Ohio Extension Service brooder that Robert Plamondon has on his site. It's reduced to fit 50 chicks instead of the original 4ftx4ft size for 200. I did modify it somewhat to make the top removable to make it easier to change the bulbs.

    The box it sits in is based on a 4ft x 8ft sheet of plywood. The walls are two feet high and are (now) hinged on both sides for ease of access. The top of the hover is full of dry pine shavings as is the bottom of the box. I've brooded new chicks in this down to 20 degrees in an open bay of my workshop. Even had a power failure once with week old chicks that lasted for more than eight hours when it was below freezing and did not lose a chick because they got under the hover and burrowed into the shavings.

    A 4ftx4ft brooder would keep two or three chicks from now until next spring without them being over crowded.
     
  6. Layla1223

    Layla1223 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 29, 2010
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    Thank you all- That helps a lot- I think we are thinking about a box thats at least 4x4 for them.
     
  7. CountryFried

    CountryFried Out Of The Brooder

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    A.T. Hagan :

    Continuing with what Pat is saying this is what I use.

    http://lh6.ggpht.com/_SxFfd4HLezA/TM7NS_3kIRI/AAAAAAAABDM/-Fa4t1jX-r0/s640/2008 brooder 03.jpg

    That's the 1943 Ohio Extension Service brooder that Robert Plamondon has on his site. It's reduced to fit 50 chicks instead of the original 4ftx4ft size for 200. I did modify it somewhat to make the top removable to make it easier to change the bulbs.

    The box it sits in is based on a 4ft x 8ft sheet of plywood. The walls are two feet high and are (now) hinged on both sides for ease of access. The top of the hover is full of dry pine shavings as is the bottom of the box. I've brooded new chicks in this down to 20 degrees in an open bay of my workshop. Even had a power failure once with week old chicks that lasted for more than eight hours when it was below freezing and did not lose a chick because they got under the hover and burrowed into the shavings.

    A 4ftx4ft brooder would keep two or three chicks from now until next spring without them being over crowded.

    What kind of bulbs are you using? I'm curious, because Plamondon says "Because our pasture pens are moved by hand, we wanted to use a lightweight hover. This is okay with broilers, but dual-purpose chicks will roost on a hover from an early age, and a flimsy hover like the one shown above would not stand the strain. For pullets, we use a hover like the one shown in our Insulated Electric Brooder page, but without electric lamps. It works great. "

    I have ~40 babies coming in about 10 days from Ideal and I would REALLY like to brood them outside. This brooder would be perfect for me, but do I need heat lamps or no? We're currently running in the mid-70s during the day and upper 30s at night.​
     
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    FWIW I have virtually the same thing (made from the plans on the Plamondon webpage), mine is 2x4' and is good for 20-30 chicks but I am skeptical about putting more in it if the building/weather were cool enough that they'd continue wanting heat up into the 6-8 wk range.

    With mine, it depends on how many chicks I have and what the temperature in the chicken bldg is, but I usually start out with two 100w bulbs in there, and work down from that as the chicks get older. After a few weeks I will only have one 60 or 100w bulb on in there. In colder conditions you might need more than just 100w bulbs, too. It is best to have an assortment and you can mess around with 'em til you get the effect you want. Ideally BEFORE the chicks arrive <g>

    I leave mine set up for a month or so after turning off the light, and they do huddle under it at night, which I assume is what Plamondon is talking about with the "for pullets [...] but without electric lamps" thing. They also like to sit/play on it during the daytime.

    (e.t.a. --- you for sure DO need the lightbulbs on for younger chicks. When Plamondon says "for pullets" he means "for chicks past the point of needing lots of heat but not yet fully mature")

    The main thing with this kind of hover arrangement is that it does zero against drafts, so it needs to be in a really good draftproof building. In a sectioned-off part of a coop, you might need to put 2-4' high cardboard walls on at lest one side of the pen because some breeze will come through the adult chickens' popdoor. (If it is in a garage or other closed building, that would not be an issue).

    The only problem I have had with my unit, in maybe six uses now, is that I had one chick burn his comb on the bulb at maybe 2 wks of age. (Because the thing is so low, there is really no way to keep the bulbs up out of the way of chicken heads, nor is there a safe way to have a guard on it). But, he got over it, and the problem has not recurred. To me that is an okay tradeoff for it being otherwise a brooding method that the chicks seem to really like and do well with. Oh, and it is kind of big and awkward to store. But, oh well [​IMG]

    Pat
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2010
  9. CountryFried

    CountryFried Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:Thanks Pat! I think I'll knock one together when we get back in town, creating a draft free area for the babies won't be a problem, so it sounds like this brooder will fit the bill to keep them outside, YAY! My incoming chicks are Buff Orps and Ameraucanas (EEs, I assume), so they should handle things fairly well.
     
  10. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

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    North/Central Florida
    Quote:I've never tried it without the bulbs. You might could get away with it if they had plenty of dry litter to nestle into underneath the hover at night in a draft-free location. If your lows are going into the 30s though I don't think I'd try it myself.

    Did you look at Robert's insulated pasture hover? He mentions it here: http://www.plamondon.com/pasture_hover.html I still don't think I'd try it with newly hatched chicks though.

    My bulb use varies somewhat with the weather. The batch of chicks that I brooded when it was going to 20 in my shop I had a 250w in one end and a frosted 125w in the other end. By the time they were at two weeks of age I went to two 125s and by a month just a pair of ordinary 100 watters. The high walls of the brooder box blocks drafts pretty good. The one time we had a noreaster come through I over the end of the box nearest the eaves of the shop while leaving the other end open.
     

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