Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Riggin' Chicken Brooder

Just before the very first official day of spring, it seems fitting we'd find ourselves prepping for some little spring peeps, don't you think? We'll be off to pick up our chicks just as soon as we get word that they're in from the post office (still can't believe I'm getting to do this now!), and the kids are so excited they've been doing "chicken shows" and some kind of manic "chicken dance" on and off for the past 24 hours.

The rest of the hours between No Peeps and When We Leave Go Get The Peeps have been filled thus far with activities and projects to make sure we have somewhere warm and safe for the girls to go once they come home.

We have feed. We have a feeder. We have a waterererer. We have a heat lamp and an infrared bulb. We have white wood shavings.

And now we have a brooder.

Not a fancy-pants brooder, but a rigged one that I feel will do the trick- for $13- without a lot of fuss.

Here's what I used:

  • 1 18-gallon tote with latching lid
  • 1 scrap of 1/2" 19-gauge hardware cloth
  • lightweight wire (salvaged from one of the rolls of hardware cloth used in the coop)
  • Duck Tape

Here's what I did:

Wearing safety goggles, I cut just inside the recess of the lid all the way around (the hubs says the "saw" I used
was actually a grinder with the guard removed, so maybe here do as I say and not as I do).
I then removed the flap and tossed it in the recycling.
Next I drilled holes roughly 2" apart all around the remaining recess of the lid.
With tin snips, I cut the scrap of hardware cloth to size,
making sure it was larger than the recessed part of the lid
but smaller than the lid itself.
Using the salvaged wire I "sewed" the hardware cloth onto the lid,
using the holes I drilled (this is a view from the underside of the lid).
I finished the brooder box by putting Duck Tape around the rough edges of the hardware cloth (I chose to put
the hardware cloth on the outside of the lid instead of the underside because we have a house cat that will
inevitably find his way into the bathroom where the chicks will spend the next few weeks, and I didn't want his
weight on the screen to cause gaps he could reach through).

So there you have it, our rigged chick brooder. According to my various go-to chicken how-to resources, chicks need 6 square inches of space per bird in a brooder for the first 2-3 weeks, and a minimum of 1 square foot after that until they go out to the coop. Because they need their small brooder for such a short time and we're just starting out in this whole process, it felt wise to do something that didn't require a huge investment.

It seems there are 100 right ways to get a flock started, and after I have some experience under my belt I may figure out there are 100 better ways to go about it, but for now I'm feeling good about this project, and I'm looking forward to filling it up!

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