One of the first things I do when preparing for baby chicks, no matter if I purchased or hatched them, I get my brooder ready. Now my brooder is probably not like most and mainly due to where I live. Living in Florida allows me the luxury to not worry about insulation from the cold as much as it would if I lived further north.
My brooder is essentially a cage with a light for heat and surrounded by cardboard for insulation. This cage is inside a building. During the daytime I open the door so sunlight comes in and they can sun themselves. It is so cute watching them spread their wings to soak up the sun and warmth. If it is a rainy day like yesterday and below normal temperatures, I keep the door shut to keep them from the wind and rain of the weather.
At present I do not have a heater inside the building but with tonights temperatures reaching down into the 20′s I will probably put an electric heater in their for added warmth.
See the cage over to the right in the picture (with the tarp behind it), that is the next stage for baby chicks at my house. Usually at about four weeks I move them to the outside but still under shelter. This cage is two sided so if I have a large amount (say 25 or more) then I will split them up; but normally I start them all on one side of the cage until they start crowding themselves. I bought this cage at the chicken auction for $20. You can’t beat the size or the price.
You will note there is still a heat lamp to ensure they stay warm. At this stage I had it too low because the chicks were not laying under it but over to the side near the feeder. Since then I have raised it. Pictured is a few of the 25 Rhode Island Red chicks I bought a couple of weeks ago. These chicks were varying ages so some were more developed than others. I am guessing their age just due to the size and feather development.
The area this cage is kept in is where I also store my food in metal trash cans and the other chickens in my flocks have open access to it. The baby chicks get lots of attention from me and the other chickens. There is lighting overhead if needed and the tarp helps to protect them from the wind. I have never lost a baby chick due to cold in either location so I am quite satisfied with my set up.
Another cage I use more for giving them an opportunity to feed on grass is this one…
Baby chicks that go into this cage are normally at least five to six weeks old. I use it to take give them an opportunity to be out in the yard with no fear of a predator getting them. They are able to scratch the ground and pull grass through the openings. This cage helps me to have more time to handle them and the birds are more friendly.
I have kept a mother hen and her baby in it before when I was short on space. The baby chick did get out but was easy to catch since they normally will not go far from the mother hen. Not a good situation though if I hadn’t been around so often.
I also use this cage to start the integration process of moving the 12 week old pullets/cockerels into one of the chicken flocks. I have two flocks of chickens at the moment and as I start raising different chicken breeds I will probably have more. Anyway, I place the 12 week olds into a chicken coop and leave them in the cage within the coop about a week before allowing them to leave the cage. By that time the main flock has seen them and have become acquainted. The pecking order starts after the 12 week olds start running loose in the coop.
Now they have made it into their new home and it will take a few days for them to settle in and become comfortable with the other members of the flock. When I first integrated my Black Star pullets into the chicken coop it was all one area. Since then my husband has separated it down the center. The pullets were not able to eat due to the hens being very dominent over the food, water and area. This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago and now we free range these pullets along with the other members of this chicken coop and the door remains open.
There are so many different ways to raise chickens. A lot of people use chicken tractors and I have one of those and use it with some of my baby chickens. One thing I do not like about mine is it doesn’t allow me free access to handle them and is also very hard to move due to the weight. This is a default on our part due to building it incorrectly. This spring I plan on building one of the Catawba Coops. They claim it is fully detailed with correct measurements, details, etc. Everything I read has convinced me even a computer nerd like myself can build these chicken tractors. Surely I can following directions. We will see.
One thing I forgot to mention through this whole blog post is that I use these same cages for a brooding mother hen and her baby chicks. It’s not just for incubator hatched or purchased baby chicks. Also remember, this works for me because I live in a warm weather state. The process would change greatly if I lived somewhere it is cold. I am thankful for the warmth! It makes it easy to raise animals.
Tags: Baby Chicks