If you’ve been reading my Facebook page and blog over the past week, you’ll know that I am the proud new mama of two sweet baby chicks named Lucy and Ethel. They have brought so much joy and new life to our house, and we’ve all really loved bonding with them as they grow—and they do grow quickly—into lovely little miniature chickens. As I understand it, it will be about 5 or 6 months before they start laying, so for now, we will enjoy getting to know them and showing them all the wonderful things that are here in our yard for them to enjoy.
But before I give you today’s peek at them, I wanted to show you a peek into my light hut. I can’t remember whether I shared with you or not that I planted some tomatoes and zucchini, but I did last month and put them in the light hut to start the seedlings. Once I set them all in there, I watered once, or perhaps twice early on, but not again. The light hut keeps so much of the water that it sort of creates a greenhouse effect, which is great for the seedlings. It is artificial light, though, and that is really not best, but it’s fine until you can harden them off and wean them onto real sunlight and true weather conditions (wind, rain, etc.). And now, the peek I promised into the brooder. Here is Lucy and Ethel this morning:
I mentioned before that Sky and I set up a simple brooder for them last Saturday. There are plenty of good instructions on the internet describing how to set up brooders for baby chicks, but I thought I would share how we did it with you.
It was quite inexpensive–I think about $47 including the chicks (we had an extra 18 gallon tub available at home, so we didn’t purchase that). It breaks down like this:
- light and bulb – $15
- waterer – $3
- feeder – $3
- chick starter – $8
- thermometer – $2
- chicks – $3 each (I bought two)
- the pine shavings and tub were already here, but I would imagine it would run you another $10 for those
- GRAND TOTAL: $47 + tax – not too bad to get started with laying chicks!
Simple Brooder Instructions
What you need:
- 18 gallon plastic tub with a lid
- brooder light
- brooder bulb (we used 125 watt because our brooder would be kept in the house)
- chick starter (medicated or unmedicated, research both for best results)
- pine shavings
- a pen (to mark lid for cutting)
- a sharp knife (to cut brooder light-sized hole in the plastic lid)
What we did:
- First, we wanted to get the chickies comfortable, so we cleaned out the plastic tub (ours was one that was previously used), dried it well and put about an inch of pine shavings in the bottom of the tub.
- Next, we filled the water and the food bowl, and added the chicks.
- After that, we marked the lid and used a sharp knife to cut the hole into it. Where you mark the lid will depend on your setup–what you will be clamping the lamp to. At first, we clamped the lamp onto the side of the lid, and as
- Last, we mounted the brooder lamp onto the side of the lid, pointing down into the brooder. Each day, we were able to read the thermometer to see whether the brooder was at the correct temperature. Member Sunny and the 5 egg layers from BackyardChickens.com shared her basic rules of thumb for chick temperature with me
NOTE: You will need to adjust the light fixture up or down to adjust the brooder to the correct temperature for the age of your chicks. You may also need to take the lid off if the brooder is too hot.
Edited to Add: The lid kept WAY too much heat in the brooder as the weeks wore on, so we ended up covering the brooder with cooling racks (for cookies) so the girls couldn’t jump out and the proper temperature could be maintained.
She also said, “Once the chicks are completely feathered out (about 7 weeks old or so) you don’t have to worry too much about temperature, unless it’s very cold outside. Also, keep in mind that these temperatures are just threre to give you a tough idea, you should pay more attention to what your chicks are doing than the thermometer reading. If the chicks are huddled up under the heat lamp, they are probably cold. Lower the heat lamp. If the chicks are scattered away from the heat lamp and panting, they are too hot. Raise the heat lamp. Comfortable chicks should be randomly scattered all around the brooder.”