Baby chicks need a chicken brooder when they don't have a mother to keep them warm. A brooder acts as an artificial heat source for the baby chicks until their feathers grow out. Commercial hatcheries use professionally made brooders that can cost hundreds and thousands of dollars. You can make your own chicken brooder without spending a lot of money. The materials needed can all be found at your local home improvement store.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- Pine shavings
- Heat lamp
- 250 watt infrared light bulb
- Broom handle or sturdy dowel
- Duct tape
- Chick feeder
- 20% protein chick starter
- Chick waterer
Determine how big of a box you need for your chicks. As a general rule, each chick needs about 2 square feet of floor space. This means that if you have 6 chicks, the box needs to be 2 feet long by 3 feet wide. The walls of your box should to be 18 to 24 inches high to prevent chicks from escaping, and to keep them from being intimidated by outside happenings.
Fill the box with 6 inches of pine wood shavings. These need to by completely dry. You can get pine shavings at your local feed or pet supply store.
Screw a 250 watt infrared light bulb into a heat lamp. Wire the lamp to a broom handle and lay the handle over the sides of the box so that the lamp hangs down in the box about 15 inches above the floor. The lamp should not be touching the sides of the box.
Set a thermometer down in the box and tape it to the wall with duct tape about a foot above the floor. The tape will keep the thermometer in place, but be sure that it does not obscure the thermometer's reading.
Place a chick feeder filled with 20 per cent protein chick starter in the brooder along with a chick waterer. Set these about 10 inches away from the heat lamp.
Check the thermometer. It should be at 35 degrees Celsius. If it isn't at this temperature, you'll need to raise or lower the heat lamp until the correct temperature is achieved.
Introduce the chicks to the brooder by dipping their beaks in the water and food. This will help them remember where to find it later. Place each one on the floor under the lamp. Keep the temperature at 35 degrees Cor the first week. Lower the temperature by -15 degrees C each week after that, until the chicks have grown enough to produce their own heat.
Tips and warnings
- Heat can be removed as soon as the chicks are fully feathered, unless temperatures are extremely cold.
- Always remember to replenish the chicks' food and water supplies regularly.
- Use caution when working with heat lamps. Heat lamps that come too close to cardboard or pine shavings can start a fire.
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