April 15, 2013

Setting Up You Baby Chick's Nursery {The Brooder}

Like I mentioned in my Friday post, we got some baby chicks this weekend.  They are proving to be as delightful as I'd hoped.  We (myself, my three boys, and my husband) can't get enough of them!  My very energetic boys have all turned into little gentle parents.  They worry about the chicks and take such good care of them.  It's been such a joy to watch them!

This picture was taken before we had our brooder set up.  Our chicks normally aren't out on the grass all alone.

Raising your own chickens does seems to be all the rage these days, so maybe a lot of you already know how to set up a brooder.  If that word is totally foreign to you, (don't worry, up until five days ago it was to me) then keep reading.  I'm no expert, but I have read a lot of chicken material over the past few days, and here's what I've learned.

The brooder is your baby chicks' first home (think of it as a  nursery).  They will need to spend the first six to eight weeks of their lives here.  I was all excited to have my husband start on our coop, but we won't be needing that for about another month.  It will need to be build, however and I can't wait!

The actual container used for your brooder may vary.  There are commercial ones you can purchase, but after reading through some of our chicken books, we decided on a large Rubbermaid storage bin.  It's tall on the sides (so the chicks can't flap out as they grow) and because it's plastic, it's easy to hose out and wash when it needs cleaned (every 3 days or so is recommended).
Source:  Rubbermaid

Besides a container, you'll also need the following.

You can use a white or red bulb for your brooder.  We found a 250-watt white bulb for less than a red one, so we went with that.  I did read that the red light can be more gentle and natural for the chicks, and I'm sure they'd be great.  Our white one seems to be working just fine for us.
Your bulb will need to screw into a direct wire heat lamp with a ceramic base. 

Source: Fleming Outdoors

This is where you'll keep the chick's food.  We bought Purina's Start & Grow (medicated) for our little ones.

Source:  Fleming Outdoors

This is where the water will go for the chicks.  I did read you can put marbles in the bottom of the water because the chicks like shiny things and it can prevent drowning sometimes.  We don't have marbles in our water, and so far so good.

Source:  Fleming Outdoors

We went with a pine shaving bedding for our chicks.   It's the same stuff you'd put in a rabbit or hamster cage.

Source: Amazon

Your brooder will need to be 95 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week, and then decreased in five degree intervals every week after that.  A thermometer will help you keep track of the brooder temperature. 

Source:  Acurite              
That's about it.  I would recommend having your brooder all ready to go before picking up your chicks.  We didn't, and it wasn't terrible, but it would have been nice to have the set up all done with before hand.

I got my information from this book (click on the book image for more information).

I've almost read it cover to cover.  I don't think I ever thought I'd read an entire book about raising chickens.  It's really quite enjoyable!  I'm excited to read and learn more.

Well, I hope that made you excited to go out and buy some baby chicks.  It's really easy to get ready for them, and they will be a tremendous source of entertainment for you and your family!  Thanks so much for stopping by!  I hope you found a little something worth your time.

Linking up to these parties & Savvy Southern Style. 
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  1. Great info! We just got our chicks too!

    1. Aren't they so much fun? We're having such a great time with ours. Thanks so much for visiting! Come back soon!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Lisa! They're growing like crazy! I need to post some new pictures. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Lovely article and the first one I have come across detailing the setting up of brooders. I have just shared your article on my new Facebook page. Visit Facebook and search "try all about chickens". My page is a collection of all the newest and best advice and tips relating to chicken keeping.

    1. Thanks, James. I'm really new to all this chicken stuff, but I'm loving every minute of it! Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing on Facebook!

  4. Excellent brooder idea. We've kept chickens off and on for several years now (off and on because we moved, and had to re-establish the flock). They are fascinating creatures...we loved especially watching them when they were chicks. Yes, you really do get emotionally invested. I'm curious to see what you'll do for a coop...my aunt in HI is mulling over ideas for her two new chicks. We have fifteen chickens... and two miniature/dwarf goats. A backyard full of ladies. (= Have fun!!! Lynaea @ EveryDayBloom.com

    1. Your backyard sounds like a fun place to be. Our little girls (we're hoping we got all girls) are growing so quickly! It's been so much fun for the entire family. Thanks for your nice comments and for visiting. Come back soon!

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