Whether you’re a poultry pro or a first-time chick caretaker, having a properly set-up brooder can mean success for your flock. Be sure to have the brooder ready to go so that when your chicks arrive, you can immediately move them into their cozy new home.
Set It Up
Be it a simple but sturdy container or a store-bought chick starter home, a brooder should be a warm and safe place for your chicks to begin their lives. Make sure the brooder is located in a place free from predators and drafts. Line the bottom with newspaper, then cover with 2-4 inches of pine shavings or other bedding material. Avoid using newspaper alone, as it can become slippery for chicks and cause injuries.
A brooder lamp and heat bulbs provides the warmth that baby chicks need. New chicks will need a temperature of around 95 degrees; as they grow, gradually lower the temperature. A good rule of thumb is to reduce the brooder temperature by 5 degrees each week until the brooder is at room temperature. The chicks will let you know what temperatures is right for them. If they are all huddled under the light, your brooder is too cool; if they are avoiding the light, it may be too hot.
Chicks should have access to food and water at all times. Chick starter, either chick grit are essential to keep on-hand. You will need to show your chicks where their waterer is and how to use it by dipping their beaks into the waterer. Room-temperature water is best for chicks, so be sure to keep feeders and waterers out of the direct exposure to the heat lamp. Chicks are messy little creatures, so be prepared to clean out their feeder and waterer daily.
Setting up a brooder is an important first step in giving your chicks a healthy and happy life. Just remember that a clean brooder set at the right temperature stocked with fresh food and water will help your chickens get off on the right foot.