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Just a Reminder

May 6, 2014

We’re getting ready for chicks to arrive this week…but it’s always good to remind folks to be extra careful with your chick brooding setup.

Just a week or so ago, a local barn caught on fire due to a malfunction with the lights used for chick brooding, and I recently heard of a barn fire down in the valley that resulted in the loss of the 300+ chicks, various farm equipment, and a beautiful wooden barn.  Not to mention the dashed dreams of a successful farming season.  No word on the cause, but I would be surprised if it didn’t have something to do with heat lamps for chicks.  It’s a crap shoot, the birds need the high heat the first week or so of their lives, and they need tinder dry bedding also.  Potentially a recipe for disaster.

We have never once regretted building our little 20′ x 20′ greenhouse/brooders.  Nominal cost to build and replace in the event of an fire.  Placed away from our other buildings (constructed of wood) lessens the chance that other buildings could catch fire also.  I won’t even go into the benefits of chicks being raised in  more natural light – I’ll wait until the chicks get here to write about that.

boots chick

So if you’re brooding chicks, double check your light setup and stay safe.  Our lights hang in our hover box, and if you’re doing chicks in a big way, Plamondon’s plans for a hover with fixed sockets may not be a bad idea.  I’m not too keen on the insulated part on top and haven’t found that to be necessary, using instead rigid foam pieces on top for easy removal.  And truth be told we have only needed the insulation for turkeys, chicks tolerate cooler temperatures.

Happy chick raising!

18 Comments leave one →
  1. alex permalink
    May 6, 2014 11:03 am

    I heard about that terrible fire. Such a sad situation. Would you mind posting an updated picture of your brooder?

  2. Kit Duffield permalink
    May 6, 2014 12:05 pm

    I knew of a farm that lost their big hay barn with 1000 bales of hay because of the heated water dish for the chicks. The dish went dry and melted the plastic. Then burned the whole place down.

  3. May 6, 2014 12:36 pm

    I can’t imagine how awful a fire would be in the brooder. But look out for predators too. Cats count as predators.

    • May 6, 2014 12:51 pm

      We had problems with our cats until we built the hoophouse, now they can’t get in unless we let them. I was milking once and Rick, our big tom at the time walked by with a week old CX in his mouth, he was so nonchalant it was kind of funny…kind of. Now we just worry about bobcats clawing the plastic and chicken wire off to get at the chicks :p

      • May 6, 2014 1:31 pm

        I found 40 birds dead in the greenhouse brooder last year. Then mama cat brought one to her kittens. She found a hole for us to fix.

        • May 6, 2014 3:01 pm

          Yeah, our “plant” greenhouses aren’t cat proof, but we solved that and other predator problems in the brooder ones with concrete footings, and chicken wire attached to the sills. Tighter doors too. I guess I shouldn’t have said “solved”, we built them cat proof from the beginning and never intended to grow anything in them.

  4. May 6, 2014 4:35 pm

    Great advice. Thanks!

  5. erikamay85 permalink
    May 6, 2014 9:56 pm

    I did chicks for the first time this year. I LOVE the over brooders. I only used a heat lamp for a few days and they terrified me. Not to mention resulted in a dead chick from over heating. I built the boxes, put it in a chicken tractor and had my chicks outside from day 1!

  6. May 7, 2014 3:30 am

    We’ve used the 1942 brooder design since 2008. We made a few modifications to it: rounding corners, height adjustments, temp control via analog thermostat, etc.

    This shows some of the adaptations:

    It’s in use right now with 65 Buckeyes and 10 Barred Rock pullets. It’s worked very well for us all these years.

    Regarding heat lamps, we’ve gone to the bulb type that’s screwed into the bulb base, as we’ve had too many that just came apart:

    and we use these heat lamps in other locations:

    And they are always securely anchored with double ropes.

    Here it’s too cold to get away with a hoophouse for brooder in May. But I’m still dreaming of one, some day, for plants….

    • May 7, 2014 4:51 am

      Good to know on the bulbs! Usually by April it warms enough for the hoophouse brooder, but on the other end if I go too early it’s too soon to put them out on pasture.

      Keep dreaming Pam – hopefully someday you’ll get your hoophouse.

  7. May 7, 2014 5:49 am

    We don have electricity and use propane heaters for our brooder! So far so good…the barn they’re in is a plastic hoop house as well so a big fire is unlikely.

  8. Barb in CA permalink
    May 7, 2014 6:54 am

    When you do your post, I would like to hear more about how you made the chicken greenhouse so secure from predators. Is the chicken wire attached to the concrete sills? And how are the doors reinforced? It’s all in the details, I’m sure. Thanks for all you share with us beginners!

    • May 7, 2014 7:04 am

      Barb, you got it right. I can’t say it will deter all predators because we had bobcats clawing the wire off during the winter and helping themselves to hens. Not recently though, and it helps now with less chickens and only raising them in the spring. The dogs also help too just by being around. Interesting though, all the bobcat attacks on the greenhouses were during daylight hours.

      Chicks arrived this morning – a neighbor came and got theirs and everyone is installed. Now we just wait for them to get their sea legs.

  9. May 7, 2014 9:21 am

    sad but true.
    cats and poultry seldom go together well.
    Good luck

  10. May 7, 2014 10:14 am

    Luckily, the only chicks we’ve raised have been under mama hen’s care. The ultimate heatlamp! However, we’ve only had small flocks.

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