When we got our first batch of chickens 2 years ago, we really had no clue what we were doing. We got 5 Ameracaunas thinking that we’d wind up with 3 (after looking at statistics we found online we thought that maybe 1 would be a rooster and maybe 1 would die).
We kept the chicks in a big cardboard box (brooder #1) in the garage with some wood shavings
, food and water and heat lamp
. We wiped their butts (necessary grossness), held them lots and realized quickly that we needed to get started on their coop! Chicks turn into chickens remarkably fast!
Last year, knowing we definitely wanted to continue keeping laying hens, we got 4 new chicks: 2 Ameraucanas and 2 Rhode Island Reds, but instead of throwing them in a tub again, Tool Lady designed an actual brooder (brooder #2) for them.
It is basically a box (2 feet wide X 2 feet deep X 2 feet tall) with wire mesh floor and a drawer that slides out at the bottom like any regular drawer would. The lid is a wooden frame with wire mesh
stapled into it to allow for air circulation and the heat from the lamp
to reach the chicks (the lamp hangs from either a bungie, a large hook or a bamboo stake, whatever works and we have on hand).
You see, inside the box, there is a ledge built around the entire bottom. Onto this ledge is stapled the wire mesh
. For the first week – week & a half we put a paper bag directly on top of the mesh and then put shavings on top of that. This allows the babies to get their footing and gives them a cozy bed to sleep on.
After that (once the chicks are about 2 weeks old), we remove the paper bag and simply put the shavings directly on top of the wire mesh
in one corner. What this does is allows all the chicken shit to fall down through the mesh while still giving the chicks a cozy spot to sleep in.
Then, all you have to do to clean out the brooder is to pull out the drawer, throw the contents into a bag or directly onto your compost and put the drawer back in. The drawer is lined with plastic
(stapled on), so clean up is extra fast and super easy. Add some new shavings as needed to your brooder and you’re all set.
Now, this brooder worked brilliantly for 4 chicks, and worked fine for the 9 we got this year while they were super tiny, but would not be big enough for all 9 chicks to be in there much longer than a few weeks. So, of course, Tool Lady designed and built a brand new (outdoor) brooder for the newest Newbies last weekend. Stay tuned for pics, general instructions and our experiences with it so far…
In the meantime…Happy brooding!
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