How to Set Up a Chicken Brooder
Day Old Chicks
These chicks arrived in the mail. The U.S. Postal Service has been delivering chicks for over 100 years.
For their first six weeks of life, the baby chicks will live in a temporary home called a brooder. This can be made from a large cardboard box, plastic storage bin, old aquarium or even a metal feeding trough. To your clean brooder, add a layer (a couple of inches deep) of fresh kiln-dried pine shavings to the bottom.
Baby chicks will also require a constant supply of fresh water. This small chick waterer has childrens' toy marbles placed in the drinking trough to prevent accidental drowning. Sometimes this can accidentally happen if the chicks fall asleep at the waterer.
There are a variety of feeders designed for chicks on the market. Here is one type of feeder filled with chick feed. Chick feed has all the required nutrients for the baby chicks during their first six weeks of life.
During their first week of life, the chicks should be kept at 95 degrees F. One way to keep them warm is using a heat lamp with an infrared bulb like this one.
When using a heat lamp in the brooder, use a bungee cord to help secure it in place in addition to the clamp that comes on the lamp. This is important to help protect against accidental fire if the lamp were to fall.
Be sure to keep the brooder clean, dry and tidy. Refill the feeders and waterers daily. Now that the brooder is set up, it's time to introduce the chicks.
Be the Parent
The brooder should be set up and ready to go before your chicks arrive. Once the chicks arrive, play the role of the parent chicken. As you remove each chick from the shipping box, be sure to dip their beaks in the water to teach them how to drink.
Learning the Ropes
After you dip each chick's beak in the water, dip their beaks in the food. This immediately orients them to the location of their food and water.
Take Your Vitamins
Some people add vitamins and electrolytes to the chicks' drinking water to ensure all their nutritional needs are being met.
Exploring Their World
Sit back and enjoy watching the chicks explore their new temporary home for the next six weeks. Be sure to adjust their brooder temperature according to the temperature taper listed in the brooder article.
Keep Them Covered
As the chicks grow, consider covering the brooder with chicken wire to prevent them from flying out or to keep predators from finding their way in (such as the family cat).