The question is, what size baby chick brooder should I get? We can have several answers to this question.
Each answer comprehensively explains what you should consider when acquiring the right brooder for your chicks.
When it comes to the baby chick brooder, there are several factors you need to consider. One of those factors is the size. Indeed, the size will be determined by the number of chicks you are intending to raise.
With the right size, baby chicks will stay comfortable and have enough space to move around. Here is what you need to know about the brooder size you should get for your young birds.
Let’s use a simple rule of thumb that every chicken keeper must follow to get everything right.
The rule of thumb regarding the size of the baby chick brooder states that up to two weeks old needs at least ½ square foot per chick.
Chicks up to four weeks old require 1 square foot per chick, which will be enough; you should provide 1½ square feet for up to eight weeks.
Beyond eight weeks, the square feet for the chicken should be increased according to the recommendations for adult chicken coop sizes.
Why Should I Need the Right Brooder Size for My Baby Chicks?
You should consider the space each chick will occupy while in the brooder. This will determine the overall size of the number of baby chicks you raise simultaneously.
This is important because it will prevent many cases, such as overcrowding. Speaking of overcrowding, you should never subject your baby chicks to such an environment for a number of reasons.
One of those reasons is that an overcrowded brooder offers a perfect ground for the spread of Coccidiosis.
This is because the litter on the floor is usually covered with chicken poop. When mixed with a humidity of above 30% provides the ideal conditions for the spread of this poultry disease.
Also, an overcrowded brooder can make a few chicks to adopt aggressive behavior towards others. One of these behaviors is picking one another while scrambling for the available space.
If the picking intensifies, it can result in multiple wounds on some of your chicks. A chick with open wounds is susceptible to all types of health conditions. For instance, picking from other aggressive chicks.
Obviously, no chicken keeper would want to have a brooder that is overcrowded with sickling chicks.
You must always ensure your little birds have enough space to keep themselves comfortable and move freely.
With all that in mind, you need to think of how you will provide your chicks with the right size of the baby chick brooder.
In that case, we will discuss what you should look out for when acquiring a brooder for your baby chicks.
What Do I Need To Consider When Looking For A Brooder?
The size will be the first thing to consider even before deciding how the brooder will look.
The size, however, will be determined mainly by the number of chicks you are raising and their respective ages. Not all of them will require the exact size of the brooder for different reasons.
For the initial four weeks, the baby chicks will require at least 0.25 square feet of space in the brooder for one chick.
But starting from four to eight weeks, your baby chicks will need 0.5 square feet of space for each chick.
It doesn’t imply that you break your back trying so hard to calculate the precise space of each baby chick.
It simply means that you can only approximate the space each chick will occupy in relation to their respective ages.
In other words, you are only supposed to use these recommendations as your guiding principle when deciding the size of your baby chick brooder.
In addition to the size, you should also consider the depth of your baby chick brooder. This is important, especially where chicks will likely jump out of their brooder.
So, anything 12 inches deep is perfect for your baby chicks. This depth will prevent them from escaping for quite a while without necessarily providing them with the cover.
Anything under 12 inches will make it easy for your chicks to fly out of their brooder when they’re about three weeks old. So, a cover will help you restrain them inside the brooder as they grow.
Placing the cover on top of the brooder can serve two major functions.
First, to prevent the chicks from flying out of the brooder.
Second to prevent children, cats, dogs or any other animal from causing disturbance to your chicks.
When covering the brooder, ensure enough ventilation for the chicks. In this case, a roll of wire will be a better option, especially when it is nailed firmly to keep the brooder secured.
Also, the chicken wire should be easily removed anytime you want to feed or water your little birds.
Most chicken owners keep their brooders in the house before taking them to the chicken run.
This happens more often when they can’t stand the peeping all night long and the strong smell of chicks’ droppings.
This should tell you that the brooder must be removed from your house when you notice that the chicks inside are grown.
But before you take them out, make sure that you place the heat lamp inside the outdoor brooder to keep them warm.
If you decide to keep the brooder outside for a long time, ensure that it is placed at a dry and draft-free location. Doing so will prevent cool air from chilling your chicks and killing them.
Much to your surprise, your baby chick brooder will require a few bedding to provide your chicks with the comfort they deserve and keep them clean throughout.
Bedding prevents the chicks from walking in their own droppings and becoming filthy.
Additionally, the bedding protects them against walking on slippery surfaces, which can make them slip and injure themselves.
The best materials to use as bedding include hardware cloth, thick layers of newspaper, old rags, shredded paper, pine shavings, dried grass clippings, dry leaves, peat, straw, sand, puppy pads, and non-adhesive shelf liner.
Heat Lamp and Thermometer
Heat is important for baby chicks. Without enough heat, they would die so soon. That’s why the mother hen keeps her chicks warm using her body during the first days of their life.
Therefore, it’s important to replicate this type of warmth in the brooder to make your chicks comfortable. And the best source of heat for your chicks is the heat lamp.
The heat comes in different types: halogen bulbs, incandescent bulbs, incandescent floodlights, ceramic bulbs, and infrared heat bulbs.
What of the thermometer? This device is necessary for determining the right amount of heat for the chicks in the brooder.
Waterer and Feeder
Before introducing your baby chicks to their brooder, ensure a watering container and feeder are ready.
On top of that, you will require a small amount of chick starter feed for your baby chicks when they start their lives in the brooder.
What common issues arise from raising baby chicks in the brooder?
Even though raising chicks in a brooder is a common thing and easy process, you should be fully aware that there are underlying problems associated with this practice.
For instance, you may encounter a few problems with chicks ordered through the mail. These little birds arrive when they are exhausted and dehydrated due to the shipping process.
But you can solve this problem by dipping every chick’s beak into the water with electrolyte solution and vitamins to help them regain their energy and acquire essential nutrients.
What will happen to your baby chicks when the brooder is too warm or cold?
If the brooder is too warm, your baby chicks will likely huddle in one of the corners of the box, eventually developing some digestive problems.
To correct this problem, keep the heat in the brooder at 18 inches from the top side of the bedding. On the other hand, you may find your chicks huddling directly under the source of heat in the brooder.
If this happens, know that the temperature of your brooder is lower than the recommended one for the chicks.
You can overcome this problem by setting the heater to the required temperature and within a short time, you will see your chicks moving around the brooder rather than huddling under the heat source.
From the information above, you can easily work out the right size of your brooder depending on the age and number of baby chicks under your care.
Once you get everything right, including the brooder conditions, you can sit back and watch your little birds grow to become vibrant adult chickens.