Chick Calendar: Let's Talk Brooders

The new arrivals are here!

And, whether we are new or experienced parents, what do we do at this exciting time? We begin to build our “nest.”

To help new parents as well as remind us, old-seasoned folks, I'll be gathering and preparing a weekly calendar to grow with them. The first item on the list is to ready the nursery, of course!

Today, Let's talk Brooders:

If you are crafty, you can convert an on-hand item (plastic tubs and feed troughs are very popular). You can also economically purchase many items to convert. If raising chicks is something you're considering for a long-term endeavor, you might want to invest in a commercial brooder. Most will come complete with built-in heaters, water and feed troughs, and removable floors for cleaning. They can make for a pleasant, smooth experience.

As you can see, there are many ways to house your new arrivals; here are just a few things to consider in your decision.

The location – First, make sure whatever your make or purchase, it fits in the space you have in mind to place it. There’s nothing, like, proudly, assembling your nest only to realize you’ve already outgrown it. Second, remember you will need access to an electrical outlet for the heat lamp. Our recipe for a great location: quiet, warm, draft-free, secure room flooded with natural light.

The cost and time you can contribute – This decision is as personal as it is practical and one that must come from within. We don't all have the means to invest in a large commercial brooder, and for some the sound of any sized DIY project is overwhelming. Remember, wherever you find a balance between the time and money you can contribute to the task is where I know you and your chicks will find comfort.

Length and width – Your brooder will need to provide at least six square inches per baby chick for the first few weeks of life. This number will rapidly increase as they grow, so consider how long you plan to house them in the brooder. This calculation will need to provide plenty of room for growing chicks to move toward and away from the heat source, as well as, account for feed and water containers.

Height – As your chicks continue to grow, they will long to explore, and this can mean escaping. You will want tall, sturdy sides to ensure their safety. Commercial brooders will come with an attached top; however, chicken wire wrapped around the sides of a homemade brooder have served us well. I recently read about someone using a window screen across the top; I may have to try that one! Just make sure whatever you decide to use that it is securely attached and safe from fluttering chicks.

Next week, I'll be focusing on what goes inside the nest (besides those adorable little fuzz buckets, of course)!

Now we're all Broody Old Hens! Happy Farming!

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