Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Brooder With A View

I'm trying a new brooder this year. In the past, I've used a cardboard box and a galvanized metal trough. Both worked, but the cardboard box was kind of a pain and hard to clean out because it kept wanting to collapse on me. The metal trough was an improvement, but the sides were a little low and I could never come up with a lid that worked well. You can see it in my original post on making a brooder.

The last two years I noticed that whenever I walked up to the brooder, the chicks were terrified and panicked. They just never seemed "well adjusted". So after some internet reading, I came across a few sites that mentioned using a clear brooder and keeping it in the house so the chicks could see you at all times and become accustomed to your presence. (Keep in mind, I'm thinking about my layers and the fact that I want them calm around people when they're older. I may do something entirely different for my broilers).

I had some "points" at a local store and was able to get this 28 gallon clear container for free! Love that. I would have gotten something a little longer, but this was as long as they had in a clear container. I'll probably use it for about 3-4 weeks and hopefully transfer the chicks to the coop at that point where I'll keep them separated from the hens until they're about the same size and accustomed to one another. 

I purposefully had a wall built in my coop with a screen door for this very purpose. It allows me to separate birds but they can still see each other and get up close to have a little chat now and then. I also use this area to separate broody hens since I don't have a rooster, and I'll use it to keep my meat hens separate from my layers. 

Back to the brooder with a view... We used a soldering iron to cut a hole in the top of the lid. Next my husband made a frame and stapled some aviary wire to it with a staple gun. After drilling holes in both the frame and the lid, we attached the frame directly onto the lid with screws and nuts.  

You can see the finished results keeps the top nice and secure. (Don't you love those corners he did? Perfectionism in woodworking!) 

I have 5 new Rhode Island Reds and 25 Freedom Rangers arriving at the end of April along with some chicks we plan to incubate and hatch about the same time (4H project). So this weekend I picked up an extra heat lamp bulb (just in case the other one should burn out - good to have a spare ready to go!), scrubbed out the feeders, and made a simple little roost for the chicks to stand on when they're a few weeks old (one that fits in this box). 

In the past, I'd go to the feed store, see cute little chicks, and since I couldn't resist them, I'd bring a few home. Then I'd dash around trying to pull everything together to get them housed, warm, and fed. It feels so good to be prepared early this year instead of doing things backwards!

Ahhhh, spring... bring it on!


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