I introduced our newest additions in an earlier post. They’ve grown so much in the couple of weeks that we’ve had them…and thankfully we haven’t lost any of them. The kidlets are loving every minute of it…well almost every minute. It turns out I’m allergic to the pine bedding we’re using in the brooder. There’s not much I can do about it except take allergy stuff. I know…I know. You’re thinking we should just get different bedding, right? That does seem like a simple solution…except we bought a big block of the stuff and I’m loathe to waste it. Taking allergy stuff and cleaning out the brooder daily helps. That’s the part CareBear and GadgetJunior aren’t too thrilled about because they get to do the cleaning. Little do they know how much more work cleaning out the coop is going to be!
I thought I’d share what we did for the brooder box. Simple, easy and no fuss!
Some just use a simple cardboard box set up in a barn, basement or garage. I don’t have that kind of space and needed a more sturdy way of moving them around and cleaning it out. Got this idea in my researching. It’s just a simple tote with a hole cut in the lid. I love this one with the locking handles.
The hole in the lid…which allows air flow and light from the heat lamp in…needs to be covered. The chicks do grow and will try to get out…and if you’re like us there are little fingers that would love to get in! Simple chicken wire is all that’s needed…we went with a finer mesh because we have cats – Briar and Pig. Even though I doubt they would have been able to reach in far enough to hurt the chicks, Pig would have delighted in sticking his paw in to watch them flap around.
It was really easy to attach the wire with nuts and bolts. Just fold under the edges of the wire to prevent cuts and pokes on any sharp edges.
Put a thin layer of bedding at the bottom. They need something to dig around in and keep from slipping. Some say to just use a layer of newspaper, but in my research I found that this could cause some development issues in a chick’s feet and legs…too slippery and nothing to scratch around in. I suppose you could shred the newspaper…but who wants to go through all that work? This is the pine bedding I mentioned above…I imagine this stuff also cuts down on the smells that they leave behind. I can’t say because I don’t have anything to compare it with…plus my nose is stuffed half the time anyways. There is a smell though…it’s a fact of life. I found that using some odor absorbing jell (found at Lowe’s) helps a lot…I like the vanilla one. 🙂 In the picture above there’s actually a bit too much bedding in there. Chickens scratch around. It’s part of their instinct and nature. As you can imagine, they can make quite a mess doing this. With too much bedding, they were filling their water with the bedding…and because the bedding is absorbent the mess was quite…ummm…messy.
We ended up moving the water to the other end of the box because they kick around when they eat. But I think you get the idea. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had several issues with the feeder and waterer. I’ll post about some of the solutions in another post. The feed is a medicated starter/grower feed. Chicks are prone to get a certain respiratory infection…this feed is supposed to guard against that. We’ll change to a layer feed at about 4-6 months. They’ll have to be on that at least 30 days before we can eat any eggs they might lay. Apparently it takes that long for the medicated part to get out of their system. Likewise, in the future, if they have to go on antibiotics or such, we’ll have to discard any eggs for 30 days again.
The only thing left was to hook up the heat lamp. We went with the red with the idea that it would be “softer” and not as bright. Found out later that it’s the better choice because the red glow cuts down on them pecking at each other. The brooder sits next to one of our computer desks and the lamp is attached to that. Over time we’ve lifted the lamp to keep the temperature from getting too hot.
So there it is. Our simple, easy, no fuss brooder! 🙂