Got any new hatchlings in your flock that need some extra TLC – tender loving care? This is a very important stage in your chicken’s life that requires you to know everything about the intensive process of brooding your chicks to ensure they get the optimum care and attention they need.
After an egg hatches, a little chicken is born into this world. It won’t be able to regulate its body temperature naturally, even for some days. Young chicks would need external support to prevent cooling or heating up as body heat regulation is one of the most crucial factors in ensuring their survival. To live in a world outside its egg, a chicken must receive the utmost care for its first couple of weeks through chick brooding.
DIY Chick Brooder
Chick brooding helps the hatchling adjust its body regulation to be in harmony with its environment while its body develops and maintains its body temperature. Rearing your chicks can be done indoors, usually for three to eight weeks. If you’re crafty and good with setting up materials, you’re more than capable of curating the perfect home chick brooder! You can save a lot of resources while ensuring that your chick can molt its baby fluff as it prepares its adult feathers.
As the owner, your role in nurturing the chick and giving it the proper care to grow healthy and thrive must start with giving it a viable environment. Here are some helpful tips for setting up your home chick brooder:
How To Set Up a Home Chick Brooder
While waiting for your eggs to be ready for hatching, it’s best to prepare your brooding area! Not only does it need to have enough space, but also conducive to the chick’s growth and development. A quick guide is recommended on the floor space that is ample enough for the birds growing into a couple of weeks old.
For chicks, 0-4 weeks old, ½ square feet per bird is recommended. For 4-8 weeks chicks, the space needed is 1 square foot per bird.
Aside from ample space for brooding, you should have a layer of bedding where the chicks can stay conveniently. Having a bed that is made of quality and comfortable material is a no-brainer. You must also measure the depth of the bedding, so the position of the chicks isn’t too high nor too low.
One important factor is to have this material be absorbent litter to ensure the cleanliness of the space while still giving comfort to the chicks! Adding more litter provides more comfort for the hatchlings, so don’t forget to add more layers when the weather gets cold. Littler can be absorbent to regulate the moisture in the brooder. At the same time, its insulation protects the chicks from cold and inclement weather.
Litter material is actual litter! You can always use natural materials such as peanut shells, rice hulls, or even ground corn cobs! Just make sure to avoid materials prone to mold and materials harmful to the chicks, such as cupboards or broken glasses.
Just like any other living being, little chicks also need ample ventilation. This ensures they have enough air not to suffocate in their brooder. Make sure to keep windows open to give them enough fresh air. A ceiling fan can also help provide better air circulation when you have a big space. Mold loves moisture, so having appropriate ventilation lessens the moisture and the probability of mold building up inside.
The actual brooder to be used is easy to set up. It’s usually made up of a container or a box with four walls, a base, and a lid. The material for this brooder may be cardboard, plastic, and even wood. What’s more important is what’s inside, so don’t forget to have a reliable heat source! This would be your heat lamp that can be put inside the brooder just to make the chicks feel warm.
Having a source of heat is most important in regulating the temperature of your chicks. While there are different available heat sources, it would be better to narrow down the list so you can compare and make the right choice. You can choose your sources of heat from the following:
- Infrared heat lamp: When taking care of no more than 200 hatchlings, this self-reflecting bulb can aid in maintaining their sleep patterns as opposed to white and red bulbs. You can even raise the bulb or lamp as the chicks are slowly able to manage their temperature.
- Electrical brooder: If you want to be more in control of the heating system while ensuring even heat distribution even in a large space, this heat source is the way to go! This is commonly used for a big bunch of 300 to 400 hatchlings, which helps prevent the chicks from being crammed into one space.
- Charcoal or kerosene stove: Given the lack of electricity in your area, you may also choose to improvise by using charcoal or kerosene. One helpful tip is to use plates that can distribute the heat!
- Gas brooder: You may also improvise using a heat source like LPG, methane, or other natural gas!
This material keeps the chicks close to the heat source while ensuring enough space to go far once they already feel too hot. The chicks should also have enough space to be able to move around. Materials that can be used as a brooder guard are GI sheets or chicken wire.
Waterer and Feeder
A brooder can’t be complete without the nutrients for the chicks! Needless to say, it has to have a waterer and feeder to ensure that the chicks are well-groomed during a crucial stage of development. It’s important to note that the water and feeder are both enough for all chicks.
Chicks! No one ever gets bored of them as they complete one’s backyard farm. Their fluffy butts, small bodies, curious beaks, and all other crazy antics make them the perfect animals to raise! As cute as they are, they’re also very fragile and in need of a functional and loving home. With the homemade chick brooder, you can give them the kind of care they must have to grow strong and healthy.