I’ve raised several batches of chicks in cardboard box brooders in my garage. But for the first time, this batch of chicks will be raised in the special brooder area that Mr. Fix-It built onto our big coop. There are several reasons for the move, but primarily because I worry when he is working on something “fumey” out there. I don’t think it’s good for the chicks, and more than once I’ve pulled the box out into the yard, complete with long extension cord and heat lamp, so that they wouldn’t breathe whatever he was spraying.
I’m so proud of the coop Mr. Fix-It built me, and especially this little shed. The brooder cage is 5′ x 2′ and sits about 3 feet off the ground to make it easy to get in and out of, and just the right height to sit in a lawn chair and watch “Chick TV”. The door on the front should make it easier for us and less stressful for the chicks. They say that reaching into a brooder box from the top freaks them out because natural predators like hawks attack from above. The door raises and can be held open with a gate block (I don’t know if that’s what it’s called, but it’s something we use on a lot of our coop doors. It’s basically just a small rectangle block of wood screwed on right next to the door, that can be turned to hold the door opened or closed.). There is a “threshold” in the front to hold the shavings in, but it can be easily removed to make cleaning easier. The floor is made of old linoleum for easy cleaning. There is a power strip mounted over the screen door near the brooder cage to plug in brooder heaters and lamps. There is room below the brooder for tubs of feed and tools. Above the brooder is another cage with the same dimensions as the brooder. It can be used as an “isolation unit” for sick/injured or misbehaving chickens, or to get show chickens ready for the fair. On the opposite wall, I have a big tub for pine shavings and a couple more tubs for scratch, grit, and oyster shell. Then there are places to hang my “coop jacket” and “coop apron”, a broom, and my big net for catching elusive chickens.
Yesterday was spent scrubbing every square inch of the shed. I also made a run to the feed store for starter feed and an extra waterer. Today I disinfected all the chick feeders and waterers and filled the brooder with wood chips covered with paper towels. I also covered the screen door leading out to the run with feed sacks to try and keep it warmer and less drafty. I think the pictures on the feed sacks make the shed cuter too!
I just bought a new Brinsea Ecoglow brooder heater that I’m excited to try out. But, of course, Oklahoma weather rarely cooperates, so I also put the old brooder lamp in there as a backup when the temperatures are just too low. I made sure to hang it very securely. (NEVER trust the clamps that come on brooder lamps. They are not reliable at all!)
So I think I’m ready for my little chicks to hatch this weekend. If you need to get your own brooder ready, check out this post for more detailed instructions.