Here at Back to Our Boots we are all about using what we have. As we are still at the beginning of this journey we do not have much in terms of supplies and equipment. What we do have is an endless supply of junk someone else left behind! This year we got a little creative when it came to a brooder for our chicks.
The Challenge: Where to put our Chicks
Last year we were able to keep all the chicks in a box in our spare room until they got big enough to put out in the hen house with a heat lamp. This year, we already have adult chickens in the hen-house, and are mid-remodel of the bedroom. We do not have electricity out in our barn (that is a project for another day) and we do not have any other secure outbuildings. So we had to come up with something else.
Our Solution: Stock Trailer Brooder
We pulled our stock trailer close enough to the house to run an extension cord. Handy Husband cut a piece of plywood we removed from the bedroom remodel demolition to cover the openings in the trailer and tied them on with some cord. We took an old tractor tire, cut one side off and flipped it over so it sits flat. Later we will use this tire as a water trough. Then we hung a heat lamp from the roof of the trailer and viola we have a portable brooder! It is not fancy, and it does not look nice, but I have to say it is working out nicely. I particularly appreciate the red glow of the entire trailer at night! The most time-consuming part of this project was probably hooking up the trailer and moving it. We spent zero dollars and almost no time at all fixing up this happy little home for our baby birds.
Ideally, I would have two different heat lamps connected to different electrical sources to prevent the chicks from freezing in the event the bulb burns out or otherwise fails. Here, we are still experiencing low temperatures and this something I have worried about. Side note: Look at that trailer! She may not be pretty, but she was a smoking good deal and gets the job done without fail!
Things Chicks Need
- Safety from Predators
- Heat Source- Your Brooder should be 95°F reduced by 5°F each week. Your chicks should be evenly distributed under the heat lamp. They should not be all huddled up under it, or all trying to avoid it.
- Food- Choose from medicated or non-medicated starter. (I personally feed non-medicated)
- Water- Chicks drink a shocking amount of water. They are also very messy, so if possible choose a watering system that limits the amount of yuck that gets into the water.
- Bedding- Straw is not your best option, but it works fine.
- Enough Room to Move Freely/Not Pile Up- Chicks have a tendency to crowd too tightly and can suffocate one another. You will want to observe your birds and make sure this is not a problem.
Chicks grow very quickly. They eat a lot, and very quickly turn into awkward pre-teen birds. I do not expect the chicks will be in the brooder for more than four or five weeks.