Take a Tour of Our Chick Brooder

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We've somehow managed to build the perfect brooder. I can't totally toot my own horn here, because this is a combination of all the research and reading I've done which is just a bunch of other people's know how, Jared's ingenuity, and the desire to reuse as much as possible. This little farm thing we have going on needs goats someday, and goats cost money. Every dollar we spend on the chicks today is a dollar we don't have for future goats. I didn't want to buy a brooder that only had one purpose then collected dust. Or really rust. Do things get dusty in Ohio? I feel like there's more moisture here than dirt.

I mean, look how zen Honey Shaker is in her brooder. It's perfect.

I mean, look how zen Honey Shaker is in her brooder. It's perfect.

Not that the chicks are wanting for anything (except a xylophone, I can't believe I forgot to buy one!) ....they have a swing for crying out loud. I just hesitated to put a lot of money into something they would only use for a few weeks. We've also had this weekend trip looming that the chicks needed to join us on so their housing had to fit in the car with us, our duffel bags, the dogs, and all 11 of them. Which is a tall order. A large cardboard box or plastic bin brooder wasn't going to work. We have a small SUV that only seats 5 and barely has enough room in the rear end for both dogs and their gear. The dogs would also definitely eat them if they traveled in the same space. I've seen them eyeing the poor chicks from afar.

I say "need" to join us, but what I really mean is we love going to Van Wert, and we have family birthdays to celebrate, and dang it we weren't going to miss it because we now have 11 chicks. I also wasn't going to wait an extra 3 weeks for eggs by delaying their arrival. Most sane people would have found a chick sitter, but sane is not a word commonly used to describe me. Caring for 11 baby chicks is a big favor to ask the closest of friends, let alone a new neighbor. The joys of being new in town. 

Which brings me back to my point. Their brooder is the bomb. 

It has fun things to do, a lot of space, and all the essentials are in it with their safety and hygiene in mind. This is quite an upgrade from their cardboard box. Which was a good start, and really, a box of some sort is the only way to start. The chicks fit through the gaps in between the wires until they were 1 week and 4 days old. I checked daily once this thing arrived and I was so excited to use it.

Here's how we set it up in our garage. 

We left a piece of cardboard in it because they seem to enjoy playing with it. What's with kids and enjoying the packaging more than the thing?

We left a piece of cardboard in it because they seem to enjoy playing with it. What's with kids and enjoying the packaging more than the thing?

The warming light is clipped on the inside of the roof so it's close to create enough warmth. There's plenty of room to roam, so if it's too hot they aren't stuck under it. The clamp is zip-tied together to ensure it doesn't crash and burn. For real, heat lamps are a fire hazard, but all the alternatives I've researched aren't very cost effective. I plan to let a broody hen raise the next chicks (it's the way nature intended, and she'll be so much better at it than I am), so investing in an expensive warming plate would have only been for this starter flock. If I change my mind about the broody hen thing maybe we'll get one of those fancy warmer things to avoid the hazard all together. I always reserve the right to learn and grow from my experiences so I try not to cling to past decisions as gospel. I have a feeling in the next week or two they will have more feathers and won't need supplemental heat during the hot summer nights anyhow. The dog days are coming man, and the garage is about to be naturally warm all the time. We'll see if I have to start employing some cooling tricks instead of trying so hard to keep them warm enough. 

I'm so happy with the water bucket. Jared built it with a drill, some silicone, and the poultry nipples I bought and wasn't sure what to do with. He clamped it to the roof with a carabiner and sturdy chain. It's only being filled about 1/4 of the way for now because I've seen them fly and I'm worried one will end up in it. As they get taller we can hoist the bucket up higher, and I'll worry less about accidental drowning. They figured out how to use it right away, and there has never been poop in it. I'm sure they'll figure out how to poop in it someday, but this is a huge win. Keeping clean water was one of my biggest challenges when they came home.

I thought this was going to be a gag purchase, they love it!

The space and entertainment has been so fun for them and us. I swear they've grown faster and seem smarter since they've transitioned into it full time. We'll spend hours just hanging out with them watching them swing, walk across the roost bar (which came with it), and climb the bridge. All this quality time has helped us build a rapport. Instead of running every time I open the door they come over and curiously look at me or jump out and climb on my lap. It's fun! We've also had an easier time keeping it clean. With so much space the poop piles up a bit less, and having it on cardboard with pine shavings makes changing the floor and shavings a breeze with a broom. We're down to refreshing it every 2-3 days, which is a relief.

It can be built in two different sizes, is easily moved, and folds totally flat which means it was portable enough for a road trip! It will also be their chicken tractor when they are fully grown so we won't just be storing it once they move into the coop. I have a feeling we may get a 2nd one, because this might be a tad crowded with all 11 of them in it fully grown. I honestly am not 100% sure how big a full grown chicken is because I've never actually held one.  The tractor will allow them to move around the yard to keep down the bug population, help their foraging skills, and liven up their diets. They will also be the garden tillers in the fall once planting season is over. We have several aerial predators, so free ranging won't be a thing we do. They've had a few hours everyday of outside time  this week and they really seem to enjoy it. One of them got a lightening bug and they had a ball with it. I'm not really sure if they ate it. Their preferred diet is still chick feed. 

They even use the bridge! How cool is that?

Now that the worry filled mother hen of tiny chick days are over I'm feeling a bit less overwhelmed by them and am really just enjoying their cuteness. I can't tell you enough how much joy each one of them brings me. I still check on them in the evenings when I find myself lying awake at night. I can't help but be concerned a raccoon has figured out how to get in the garage. Maybe those mother hen days aren't totally behind me.

In case you are wondering if we really did take them on a road trip, we did. We set their brooder up in its smaller size and they traveled at my feet in the car. They were actually better behaved than the kids (ha!). Their brooder/tractor was strapped to the roof and I rode for three hours sitting criss-cross applesauce in the passenger seat. I must really love them.

Chicks in a box. They settled in the pine well and slept a lot.

The perfect travel set up. Huge shout out to the sister and brother in law for letting the chicks invade their garage!

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This post contains ads & affiliate links (this links to our full disclosure about browser cookies, and way more than you probably wanted to know about ads and affiliate marketing). We make a small commission when you purchase from some of the links shared in this post. Making a purchase from a link will not cause you to pay more or affect your purchase in any way. It will however, support our wildest farmin' dreams, which is mighty awesome of you