Saturday, 31 March 2007

Chicks and the brooder house

Chicks don't have to be kept inside your house, but they do need to have warmth. A chick being raised naturally by its mother would be kept warm by her sitting on it, but would also be able to wander about and get it's exercise and food/water etc. when it wanted. That is essentially what is intended to be recreated when in the brooder house. I have a short video clip on my website of a brooder house - it's from a really old educational film, but you might find it interesting. You can see from the video clip on my site that in that particular brooder house there is a stove towards the back of their area but also space in front and around the sides so that the chicks can get away from the heat if it is too hot for them.

In fact, there are several short video clips dotted around through the chicken section of my website including the growth stages for chicks and also how they hatch out in an incubator. Talking of which, here is a recent news story you might like about a ten year old girl who to decided to try and hatch out some duck eggs bought from Waitrose!


Sue Slack said...

Dear Gina,
I am so excited to receiving your emails. I got 5 chickens about 6 weeks ago and I am just like a mother hen. They were in the house for a while as it was so cold in Oregon. They are now in the garage in a small cage my
husband built while the chicken coop is being built. My 3 year old granddaughter loves them. She used to pick all of them up. Now they are a little big and crabby.The other day she asked if she could give them some grass and say "Here chick, chick, chick!"

We also have a black miniature poodle who we were worried what she would do. It has been so funny. She looks over the top of the cage and whines at them. If I hold one she will smell and lick it. Sometimes she just goes over to the cage and whines. She wants to play with them. She's very smart and usually will chases birds. I have started telling her "Shhhhh! They are peeps. That's what we call the chickens. So far it has stopped her from barking at the birds. We'll see how long that lasts.

Anyway, thank you for such informative emails. They have helped me a lot.
Sue Slack

Candace said...

Hi Gina,

I thought I would share with you what I do when I am rearing my chicks that do not have the luxury of their mother hen. I have a brooder hutch (can't spell that word) that I keep my chicks in until they are old enough to go into the hen house/run. In the late afternoons or mornings, I have a yard pen that I put my chicks in so that they can get their excerise. During the cooler nights I have heat lamps that are turned on in their hutch that keep them warm, along with the hay/shavings that are placed in the bottom (thick).

My chicks love it when I go out there to get them out! They are precious!
They just wait their turns to be taken out... at first they run from me, but it only takes about a week of the consistancy and they are ready to be handled.

Thank you for your informative emails! I love them! And I learn from them.

Have a blessed day!

James Adkins said...

My baby chicks are almost a month old, and they don't seem to need any training from me to be doing 'chicky' things. They scratch in my garden, they s*** on everything that is not supposed to be s*** on, especially in their water. But, they are healthy, are growing and mine. What else can I say?

Lulu said...

Hi There... Thanks for your updates. The chicken house is going well, not to the plan of course - as is the norm in this house - but hopefully it will be ready by the end of this week and then we will have a found a source for a couple or three p o l.

Adam said...

Gina thank you for your advise. My chickens are happily enjoying themselves in my back yard within the coop(thank you for the coop design again) my mom had an interesting chicken story the first day in the coop. I had put the chickens in their roosting place(to show them where it was) then in the morning I took them down. The next morning they where already in the roosting spot. My mom thought they needed to learn how to get down on their own so she shook the food and my chicken went to the edge, jumped, and landed straight in my moms hair!! Now that one had done it all others began to bombard my mom - it was soooooooooo funny ! Have a nice summer adam
p.s. ill send you my finished coop in the next email =)

Derrick Brown said...

Hi Gina,
Well we had a hatching over the weekend, 8 chicks, 4 dead in shell and 6 clear, bit of a disappointment, thought there would have been more, but these are as cute as a button, (its just like Easter with these chicks) but only one little yellow one, rest are black, have no idea what breeds we have got but time will tell (all happy and well in a box at the moment)

Just as something others may find useful, the heaters that are used for home brewing wine, make great heaters for a brooder, just cover them well with a tea towel and it keeps them snug and warm.

My grand daughter loves them, but her Mum says she can visit them at grand dads house (spoil sport).

Hope you aren't flooded out, maybe we should have got ducks or geese



Anonymous said...

Hi, I have a wild hen who has been sitting on 13 eggs for 2 weeks in my backyard. I understand that chicks might be born in about a week, but I'm not sure if I need to do anything for the hen or her chicks once their born. The hen and the eggs are currently next to my house under a porch chair, but do I need to make a brooder or hutch for them? They are in a fenced yard, so will they be able to get enough food and water or should I try to supplement somehow. In addition, I have contractors who are supposed to start building an addition right where the hen and her eggs are, but I'm putting him off until the chicks are born, but again, I don't know how long I should wait to start my addition or whether I should do something else to help the hen and her babies. Any advice is appreciated.

Gina said...


As the hen is wild it may be quite hard to get her to accept very much help at the moment - she is likely to be quite protective of her nest. She seems to have found a sheltered place on your porch so she is probably quite happy. A supply of fresh water could be helpful to her. If she is pecking around your yard and finding her food there, then there is presumably plenty of grit around (needed to process food) - in which case you could give her some vegetable / fruit scraps if you have any (there is a post on this blog about chicken feed).
Not all hens make good mothers, so if it turns out that she just abandons them (or even attacks them) when they are hatched then you could be on standby to take over with a brooder (which can be as simple as a sturdy cardboard box initially) - if you wanted to. If you don't particularly want to go into raising chicks / hens then a local feed store would probably be able to rehome them for you.
Whether or not you move her before the eggs hatch is really up to you. There is a risk that it may upset her and she will leave the eggs, but it is sometimes necessary to move a setting hen (for example if they are high and there is risk to the chicks if they hatch and then fall). If moving her, then it helps to have the place you are moving her to ready, and then do the whole thing as quickly as possible to minimise the upset. I would also recommend wearing thick gloves as she will probably try to peck you if she thinks she or her eggs are in danger.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gina, your ideas are very helpful. I really want to make sure that the chicks have all their needs met, so I'll make sure that there is water supply and veggie/fruit scraps nearby to make sure there is enough food. The rooster is hanging around the backyard too, so I'm wondering if he will help as well. I feel like the hen (I call her Sally) picked my house, so I want to do everything I can to help her and the babies. I will get a brooder of some sort ready, in case they need to be protected either by the mother/father or other pets nearby. I think they should start hatching this weekend, which I'm looking forward to.

Anonymous said...

I dont have a problem with babies, but 2 of my hens are definately broody. HELP. What can I do to stop them. I have locked them out of the hen house, for about a week so no nest's are available but as soon as I opened the door they sat right back on the nest. I have done this 3 times now and it all ends up the same way. Even isolating them doesnt help. They have stopped laying also.

Anonymous said...

Dear Gina,
I just got 12 meat chickens and I am trying to put my chicks outside of my house somewhere safe. Can I put them on my back porch if the container is mostly covered, and they have there heat lamp? I live in upstate NY so it is in the upper 20's at night right now and low 40's in the day. Or I can put them in the basement but thet is very hot (up to 100 guessing)with the woodstove running. Last time they lived in my bathroom but we have twice as many this time and I will need to put them in 2 boxes this time. Any advice?? Thanks, Ptarmigan

Gina said...

Hi, It doesn't really matter where they are as long as they are safe from predators and have warmth (but can move to a cooler area if they want to). The basement would be too hot if it is at that constant temperature. Best Wishes, Gina

Anonymous said...

Hi Gina, I have 22 laying hens and 1 rooster.I dont know what the breeds are as they were given to me.That being said I am hoping that at least 1 hen will be a good broody how can i tell when a hen is ready to hatch some eggs ?

Gina Read said...

If she is broody she will stay on the nest (and get back on it a.s.a.p. if removed) - she will probably also grumble/growl at you if you do try to remove her.