Brooders – Versions 1 & 2

Brooders – Versions 1 & 2

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!

xoxo,

M

 

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Written by Melissa @ Ever Growing Farm

12 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Keeping & Care of Backyard Chickens - Ever Growing Farm | Ever Growing Farm

  2. Tom Stewart

    I hope “Tool Lady” does not mind, But inspired me to get a brooder built today! I built it with legs that raise it up high enough so I can slide a tray from a Rabbit cage under it. It is 2 foot square and the try is 3 1/2″ deep. I like the idea of the wire as a floor with wood chips. Should be able to keep it clean and keep the chicks out of the mess!
    All I need now is the Heat Lamp and the Chicks!
    Tom

    1. Bee Girl

      Tom, I’m so happy to hear you were inspired! The drawer is quite magical! I can’t wait to see your new chicks when they arrive!

  3. Liz

    We often had chickens in a box with a lamp in our lounge room when we kids – it was definitely low tech though, tool ladies version looks heaps better.

  4. GirlRural.com

    We are still in version 1.0. We use a dog crate half with a cage top and heat lamp. Works well for up to 8 until they are old enough to go outside. Of course, I’m in CA, so they can go out much sooner. Ha ha. I think you did a great job with your brooder!

    1. Bee Girl

      That sounds brilliant! Sometimes I wish we lived in a warmer climate…it seems to make so many “farming” activities easier…but I would miss my dry mountains 😉

  5. Angela

    I love that design, but we’ll need one on ‘crack’ for the 50+ we’ll be ordering. LOL I’m thinking of just building a holding brooder section in the new large coop (nope, not built yet). We had the chicks and ducklings mixed into our corral and at 2 week old the chicks were able to jump on top of the corral and try hopping down.

    They were little stinkers too, because even though I had a perch for them, they had to be higher, like on top of the feeder. They were too cute. I miss having chicks.

    1. Bee Girl

      We were going to build a brooder into the newly expanded coop…but we haven’t newly expanded it yet 😉 So, instead, last weekend we built a stand alone brooder with it’s own mini run. I’ll post about it probably this weekend. It’s been working out well so far, but we still need to expand the coop for when the newest Newbies are ready to join the Ladies.

  6. Sara Dee

    He Said… built our brooder and we were in Version 2.0 before we got the chicks. Hopefully he will be blogging about it soon. I am going to put in a bug fix and request a drawer and a wire mesh floor for easy cleaning in Version 3.0

    1. Bee Girl

      It’s pretty hilarious how, as soon as you think you’ve gotten something done and start using it, you immediately see what you “could’ve/should’ve” done differently?! Always learning, aren’t we? 🙂

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