My Chics and their Brooder

Would you like to follow along? I’m going to post occasional articles on the topic of CHICKENS. We recently picked up 7 chicks with the intent of raising them for egg laying production for our household.

I’m sure that many of you regulars are well established in the arena of raising chickens. However maybe this topic will help other newbies as they delve into raising their own chickens!

BEFORE I got my chics…

Brooder

I needed a “brooder”. It’s the little home for the chics during the first 6 – 8 weeks of life. They can be purchased. However it’s really easy to build your own brooder if you have some materials lying around. Here’s how I did it…

BROODER WALLS / SIDES

I had some leftover “SmartSide” siding that I used for the garage/shop that I built a few years ago. You can use – whatever… sheathing? plywood? Anything that’ll accommodate the walls.

See those arrows in the picture above (brooder walls)? All I did was drill holes in each corner (top and bottom) so that I could pull a string through it to fasten the sides together. That way, it’s easy for disassembly once I’m done with the brooder.

I used Tarred Twine (love that stuff, it’s like waxed twine) (view on amzn).

The assembled walls simply sit on top of a flooring board (no need to attach).

The height of the brooder is about 16 inches. Each side is about 3 feet. PLENTY of room for just 7 chics. Actually, it’s probably more like a McMansion for them!

BROODER FLOOR

A 4′ x 4′ leftover cut sheet of 3/4″ AdvanTech flooring did the trick. Use any plywood, sheathing, whatever.

HOWEVER, Do keep it insulated from a concrete floor. (Too cold for the birds). They could die without adequate heat (see “heat lamp” below).

I happened to have some leftover 2″ foam board insulation which I set the flooring upon. You can use just about anything. Even a throw carpet. Just try to keep the brooder floor off of the concrete itself (if it’s in a room with concrete floor, like your garage, etc..).

PINE SHAVINGS

My research revealed (at least to me) that the best choice is large pine shavings. Readily available at Tractor Supply (or wherever you get such supplies in your community). We dumped in about 2 inches worth. After the first week we scooped it out and changed it – though we could have gone longer it seemed. It’s cheap enough, so no big deal.

HEAT LAMP

The little chics need to stay warm! They say 95 – 100 degrees as measured by a thermometer underneath the heat lamp – on the floor bed (some say 2″ above the floor). Here’s what I did:

I bought a 250 watt red heat lamp bulb (and a spare, just in case). AND a SPECIAL lamp holder with a porcelain socket. Why porcelain? Because the lamp base gets hot, so it’s better. Here’s a picture:

250 watt brooder lamp with porcelain socket.

I started with the lamp about 20 inches above the pine shavings bed. Your height may vary, but use a thermometer (like this one, for example) and place it on the pine shavings bed. Let it sit for awhile and check the temperature. Then adjust the height of the lamp to get it around 95-degrees-F for the first chic week.

The adjustment depends on your mount method. I hung mine from the ceiling and used a clamp to hold the cord in whatever position I needed. It made it easier to adjust the height as time went on. A picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s a photo:

You’re supposed to decrease the temperature by 5 degrees each week until you eventually reach ambient room temperature.

The chics tend to huddle together a lot. That’s normal. They’re sharing body heat.

TIP: If the temperature is too hot for them, they will consistently move away from the lamp to another corner and stay there (except when they’re eating or drinking).

TIP: Don’t put the heat lamp in the middle. Instead favor one end or the other. This allows them to move away from the heat if they need to.

Here’s a picture of my “ISA-Brown” chics in the corner. A few of them napping:

WATER TROUGH AND FEEDER FOR BABY CHICS

They make small feeders and waterers specifically for chics.

WATER:

Let me start with the water. When you fill it, fill it with WARM water initially. Approximately 90 – 95 degrees-F. Check with a meat probe thermometer while holding it under the faucet tap as you adjust. This way, the chics don’t get cold (as they would if drinking cold water).

TIP: When your first put your chics in the brooder, immediately dip their beak in the water trough. It lets them know where the water is. When I did it, they all started drinking right away. By the way, when they drink, they’ll take some in their beak and then lift their head back to swallow it down. Cute.

Change the water every day.

FEEDER:

Now the feeder. Use the special chick food. There are different foods depending on their stage of life. Available at your Tractor Supply Store. They LOVE to EAT. Oh my…

Let me tell you something. It’s is hilarious to watch these birds! I have 7 chicks. The feeder has 8 openings. But they tend to all want to eat from the same several openings (depending on whoever got their first). They’ll squabble over it and jump on each other, etc.. Too funny.

TIP: Put some sort of cardboard, or whatever under the feeder and water trough. Helps keep pine shavings out of the water, and it catches some of the food that they sling out.

Speaking of slinging food (with their beaks), these darn chicks can be wasteful! They were using their beaks to purposely sling food out of the trough! Apparently it’s called “billing”. So I outsmarted them… Instead of filling the feeder container as you normally would, we just put in enough to get about half way up the trough. Now it’s harder for them to toss all that food out. The little buggers…

This is before I had a tray, and while I was still filling the feed container (instead of half filling just the trough itself).

Here’s a picture of the whole brooder:

BE CAREFUL IF YOU HAVE A DOG

So, we have a mini Dachshund. As you can see in the following image that he is VERY INTERESTED in these chicks. I was sitting in a chair holding him in my lap, and he was making very funny noises as his senses went on overload:

He is drawn to their “chirps” and “cheeps”, so we’re keeping the door closed to this room downstairs. Mrs.J tried holding a chick at a safe distance from Sampson (as I held him) while trying to introduce the new chics. Well, Sampson nosed closer (as I held him), and then semi-snapped at it (though safe distance away). Anyway, instincts kick in I suppose, as this breed was bred to hunt badgers… Oh well.

Eventually they will all be in the coop and run area, safe and sound (if I do it right).

Okay that was the first episode on my chickens. Stay tuned for more fun as it develops…

By the way an excellent book on raising chickens is this one, Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens. We purchased it awhile ago (3rd edition), though now up to 4th-edition, and it has been a great help. Lots of information! Plus there’s plenty of online information when you begin searching for it.

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51 Comments

  1. Ken,

    My present flock is approximately 1/3 ISA-Browns, 1/3 Sex Link Blacks, 1/3 Heinz 57 offspring hatched of by one of the black hens ( random mixture of eggs from the blacks and browns).

    As you know, these are hybrids and won’t breed back pure. My hatchlings (6 months old now and laying) were a mixture of black, brown, pure white hens and all the young roosters look like game roosters.

    The ISA Browns are prolific layers. Mine began early, starting at about 4 months. By 6 months, they were laying an egg apiece every day, and did for several months before slacking off a little. That uses up a lot of calcium, so you should consider offering crushed oyster shells as a supplement to commercial lay pellets or crumbles.

    I will warn you now, you will find out later anyhow, this is not a quiet, docile breed. They tend to be very vocal. When I had Barred Rocks, you hardly ever heard them. Not so with ISA-Browns or Sex Link Blacks.

    Even so, their egg production makes up for any other shortcoming.

    1. Thanks for the data. Yep, I picked up the ISA-Brown for their egg laying ability. Apparently prolific for several years, then a big slack off. But that’s okay. Just get more birds. Apparently they are cold weather hearty too. Though my coop design will be insulated (spoiled birds).

      I wasn’t aware of the noisy factor with these. I was under the impression they were docile, friendly family birds. Oh well. I’m on 30 acres with no one around, so it’ll just be us hearing them.

      I almost went with Rhode Island Reds. But these were available at my local Tractor Supply for immediate pickup.

      Thanks for the calcium tip.

      1. For friendly docile chickens you can try Buff Orpingtons. I’ve had them several times and they were always quiet. So quiet none of my neighbors in a subdivision even realized I had them. They don’t lay until 20 weeks though but payed even through winter in Michigan for me.

        1. I’ll second the calm nature of orps! Even the ROOSTERS are mellow! Also, Orps are “hybrid” birds, good egg layers, and passable meat birds. If you live in a hot climate, you can go with Australian Orpingtons, or “Australorps.” They’re bred for hot, dry climes.

      2. Ken,

        They are docile, just noisy. When one lays an egg, they love to announce their accomplishment, the others join in to acknowledge the new arrival. I doubt it bothers any neighbors, since the closest ones are nearly a mile away.

        Our roosters are a different deal. Two Buff Orpingtons and 4 young from the hatch, have a set of lungs on them. The young ones are overdue their final destination on our dinner table. Our last remaining Barred Rock hen passed of old age this past week. She had more than earned a full ride retirement.

        1. lol, I love the announcement instinct!

          No roosters for me at this present time. Don’t want to be woken up at O-dark-thirty in the morning ;)

          I know, for true self-sustaining I need them. But for now, I’m good. Plenty of avenues to acquire pullets around here if I need to down the road…

          1. Another thing to consider with roosters is that they will protect the girls from predation, as best they can.

        2. Yeah; Orp roosters crow with enthusiasm! And it’s the classic “Cocadoodledoo!” you hear in the movies! They’re good birds though… and BIG!

  2. Picked up six Rhode Island Red biddies this week plus four Golden Buffs at six weeks old two weeks ago, to go with our fourteen aged hens. We still have two of the original Golden Buffs purchased eight years old. We’re averaging eight eggs per day from our fourteen hens. I feel better bringing in fresh young hens.

  3. Dennis and Ken
    Two weeks ago we picked up nine black astolops to add to our other eleven mixed birds. Next fall we will cull a few of the older birds as they are not laying much. We will keep them for the bug removal job they do so well until then!
    Have not ever been lucky enough to have a hen go broody and hatch our eggs. Always wind up buying new chicks,this year we took the last nine Running’s had!
    Hope you have good luck Ken and enjoy the experience.

  4. Ken,

    Love the chick pics! Your brooder looks clean and cozy. Good choice on the red heat lamps. Supposed to make them less likely to peck at each other and easier on the sleep cycles. Don’t know if you have any rodent issues, or have any cats, in the area where your chicks are, so what I’m about to say may not be relevant.

    I use large stock tanks for my brooders (100 birds at a time), and have tight fitting lids for them made with wood and hardware cloth. Depending on the time of year, they’re either in our unfinished basement for a couple week, or in the barn. Hardware cloth on a tight fitting frame will keep out weasels, rats, cats, raccoons, and most other things that want to get at them, especially with an added weight on top.

    My favorite breed for laying are the Buff Orpingtons. They won’t outlay an ISA for sure, but I like their temperament, their cold-hardiness, and that they make great mothers when they hatch out chicks – less work for me. They are also a dual purpose breed. They won’t get as big as some, but large enough to be worth it (4ish lbs. give or take). They will lay in the winter, although not as much.

  5. Ken,
    Your brooder looks great!
    An easy tip after the first two weeks is to place two bricks under the waterer and under the feeder so they don’t poop in it. As long as they can reach it comfortably of course.
    It helps to keep the food and water clean. :)
    I checked and our new peeps are Black Stars.

  6. Ken, sweet bunch of fluff. Will they be forever egg layers, or are to someday be Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner?

    now, I could be wrong, but I have hear that sexing tiny chicks is rather an inexact science.

    At least one of them looks like a Rooster to me…grin. I have actually read of folks getting quite a mix…

    1. oh no… i hope not (Rooster!)

      Anyway, they are destined to be egg layers for 2 – 3 years, after which they apparently drop off production pretty quick. Then, depending on Mrs.J, they may just decline into retirement, or become meat birds ;) She tends to get too personal with the animals around here so we’ll see…

      1. Grin…seriously, am betting there is at least one rooster. (ah well, Sunday Dinner there)…
        Know what you mean about getting too personal—imagine I would too. Especially if they are working hard (sure they are) providing eggs for a few years….

  7. Day old chicks are so fun!
    We have had chickens (layers and meat broilers) for over 30 years and they are really worth their keep. We have never had any problems with chickens, only with predators! It’s the raccoons! But my hubby built a large wooden tree-trap that works — so no more HaveAHeart traps because coons are just too mean and can be rabid. We are done with raccoons!

    We’ve ordered chicks, incubated them, used a broody hen to hatch them, and even gotten them locally. We’ve never tried raising any hybrid layers because we like perpetuating our own layer flocks when possible.

    One year when we were incubating, my granddaughter got to watch a brand new pee-pee peck its way out of its shell. She was in awe, and I was so grateful that she got to see that little miracle happen. :-)

    Over the years, we’ve tried a few of the Mediterannean breeds like Leghorns, even had a ‘free’ one, a Copper Maran (talk about hyper!). Mostly we get the Heavy breeds because they’re gentle, dependable, and fairly laid back. We also like their large eggs that keep coming during the Winter months. Generally we keep our layers for 2-3 years and then the hens are butchered for the stew pot.

    We’ve had more Orpingtons than any other breed, but Astralorps are very similar. We like the New Hampshires, too, and the Barred Rocks. Those are all Heavy layers and they’ll produce during the Winter here with a small light to trick them into thinking they have 12 hours of daylight.

    Speaking of Winter, depending upon the location, sometimes we have not let the hens out due to icy or extremely cold weather. Frostbite on a chicken’s comb is an awful experience for a chicken to have to endure.

    We have 6 nest boxes but chickens are pretty silly about egg-laying and they tend to use only 1 or 2 boxes. Or some will take a notion to start laying somewhere in the henhouse on the floor. Once in a while, we’ll find a stray egg in the chicken yard and we laugh, figuring the hen didn’t have enough time to waddle up the plank and into the henhouse. lol

    During the growing season, chickens get lots of scraps and garden waste. We also forage weeds for them. They go totally bonkers for chickweed and kale.

    We also grow meat birds — those are the Cornish Crosses. They are exceptionally fast to mature (between 7-8 weeks) and taking care of them is very different than caring for layers. We grow ours out in a chicken tractor, but we rigged up a bottom so that we can ‘roll it’ to hose down the chicken droppings every day. (Big birds make big poops.) We get between 25-50 broiler hens per year, but only do 25 at a time because butchering that many takes us the weekend to process and bag for freezing.

    Chickens are a good first critter for a small homestead and following the basics, having chickens is very rewarding. I hope lots of folks reading this article decide to get a small flock.

  8. Congratulations on your new flock! We have 10 hens and a rooster, but one broody hen is raising 20 guinea keets for us. They are about 5 days old now. Guinea fowl eat ticks, but they don’t scratch up your garden, so they are good to let run loose.

  9. Bobcats are the main enemy here. They can slip through the most unbelievable small openings.
    I lost 2 ducks and 2 chickens to the varmints.
    Being in South Florida, my chick raising equipment is not as elaborate as yours, not having any freezing temperatures. Pretty basic, actually – nothing fancy. Cardboard box, newspaper floor, food bowl, water bowl – in a non insulated shed. Presently I have Rhode Island Reds & Buff Orphingtons – good layers.
    No Rooster, but thinking about it.
    It’s a learning experience.

  10. I live in a suburb, 1/4 acre plot, fenced in backyard. Realistically, any chance I could raise 2 hens of a quieter variety without the neighbors noticing? The 2 adjacent neighbors would be be agreeable but unsure if the noise would alert neighbors behind/diagonal to us. Thanks for any advice!

    1. Hi Sam,

      I’ve had Buff Orpingtons, Reds, and Barred Rocks. Leaving the roosters out of it, the hens were pretty quiet – except sometimes- right after they laid an egg. It seems like they just want to brag to the world! It isn’t super loud, but depending on landscape/quietness of the day might carry that far. I’ve heard of suburbanite chicken owners bribing the neighbors with fresh eggs – might that work?

    2. Sam

      I have a similar situation, and a rather nit-picky HOA. I have however, managed to hide a laundry line in the back yard, I think because the only neighbors that might see it and object are never out on their back deck during the day when I have stuff hung there. Therefore, I think noise would be the only thing that would give away that we have chickens, were we to get some. What we need is stealth chickens, right?

  11. Great article Ken

    Wife and I have been talking about starting with a few chicks. Decided to focus on expanding the garden this year and hopefully next year start with chickens. Any specific reason you went with seven? We’ve been trying to decide on a good number to start with, not sure if there is a “recommended minimum” anyone is aware of. Thanks for adding the pictures, as you said worth a thousand words.

    1. rb308,

      Why 7? Good question…

      With just the two of us here, we wanted enough eggs, but not too many. Initially thought of just 6 (this breed will mostly produce an egg a day). Figuring Mrs.J’s baking, breakfasts, that would be plenty. Extra eggs will always be good ‘currency’. I’m certain our excess would be well received by our neighbor who shares our road 1/4 mile away (I feel that I ‘owe’ him anyway since he has an excavator that I borrow sometimes – though I leave a bottle of bourbon on the seat when I return it ;) ). But I digress..

      If it were up to Mrs.J we would have a dozen. But that’s just way too many eggs (and feed) for two people. So we compromised. It popped into my head — “Lucky 7”.

  12. good morning…great article. One change we made for the babies, NO CORNERS in their pen. depending on how many you have, they can sometimes flatten the runts in a corner!, so we use an old water trough with no corners (oblong).
    We have Barred Rocks exclusively now. Found that the Easter Eggers, Austrolorps and rhode island reds did NOT like each other? constant hen pecking. We do NOT see that with only one breed in the yard. We get about 36-40 eggs a day, which keeps the entire extended family in eggs comfortably. When the hens quit laying, they get canned (literally), turns out to be pretty nice meat. If they come in at 6 pounds stripped, I freeze them whole as a roaster. If for some reason they are scrawny or really tough, they become dog food. NOTHING goes to waste here!
    When we had an over abundance of eggs, I made several quiches and put those in the freezer…easy too to make breakfast burritos and again…in the freezer.
    We DO NOT allow eggs to go to waste, and quite frankly, the dogs love them over their dried dog food too. Each dog gets eggs, coconut oil and a small bit of cream over their dried food each morning (keeps their hair/fur very pretty…hair on the Schnauzers, fur on the Pyrennes) We initially brought the Pyrennes onto the mountain to protect the flock from bears….here in our new location, no bears, but coyotes fox and skunks…the Pyrennes are on duty all night and do a wonderful job as well as being big cuddlers and very people friendly.

    1. Hi Pioneer Woman!
      I had heard the “no corners” thing from someone else before.

      Ken, you could easily take some boards and install against the inside corners to get rid of the corners – kind of an octagon thing. Does that make sense? I’m loving the raising chickens article!

      luv ya’ll, Beach’n

      1. Just put a roundish rock in each corner for now. It will keep them from piling in. I did have a young chicken killed in a coop when a fox tried to get to them. It couldn’t get into the coop; the door was locked and had hardware clothe over it, but they got scared and piled up in a corner, one got suffocated as she was on bottom.

  13. We have five ladies, three Black Australorps and two Rhode Island Reds. They let us know, loud and clear, with their egg song when they have laid an egg. One of our Reds, aptly named Clucky Chan, is quite noisy throughout the day. We laugh when we hear the egg song and say that they are letting us know that breakfast is ready.

    We choose these breeds because they are known for being good egg layers and for their cold hardiness. The Reds do not like snow. They refuse to come out if it’s snowing or if there is snow on the ground. We discovered that the Australorpes will brood, even without a rooster. We have one that is brooding right now, which is causing much drama in the hen house, and leaving us with occasional broken eggs. We have two nest boxes, but like some of you have discussed, they all prefer to use the one, and the brooder won’t get out of it.

    Like Kulafarmer said in the open forum, we too have an escape artist. Her name is Chick Norris.
    Wondering Ken, if your wife has named your little peeps yet?

    1. We’ve got a dozen ISA’s. My daughter was horrified when I said that I named one Shake and another Bake. :-)

      DT

      1. Double Tap,
        We also have one named Pot Pie. I have come to consider them as pets though, so I have no intention of them ending up on the dinner table. But it’s fun to give them those names.😊

        1. I named some in my new CoViD19 baby chicks:
          Vi (for Virus), Wuhan, ‘rona (corona) and China

          silly isn’t it :)

  14. Never use a teflon coated bulb, it will kill chicks.
    Some bulbs have a teflon coating and it is very toxic to chicks. I learned the hard way.

  15. Ken

    THANK YOU for the information and especially for the pictures. I look forward to the continuing adventures. This will be a huge help for me to decide if having a few stealth chickens is doable in our situation!

  16. Thanks to all for writing the article, showing us pictures and sharing ideas. I am still working in healthcare for now so I do not have the time or effort to spare for raising chickens at present time. ( my wife will not let me do so either…she who must be obeyed.)

    Still, I enjoy watching them and their antics. ( please continue to post!)

    My local Ag extension through OSU has indicated that there has been a record uptick in people buying plant starts, garden supplies and other stuff in order to garden at home this year. From what I read, this trend is going nationwide. If this is true, sites like this will become a resource of knowledge for those that are new to gardening and the raising of small livestock.

    My own small contribution toward small agricultural operations is my prior work in the area of crop protection and trapping of predators. Ken, you now have a small protein production operation on your property. We know you have predators as large as black bears out there so all the more reason to brush hog your perimeter and you may want to upgrade from a handgun to a shotgun or carbine when you are puttering around your farmyard and barn.

    ( over the years, most of the coyotes, skunks, raccoons, rats and other carnivores/omnivores have been shot within 30 yards of a chicken enclosure, livestock pens, calving pens or other location where sick or birthing animals were located.)

    The attitude of live and let live has to be slightly altered when the carnivores are after your livestock.

  17. Just ran across this entry after incubating my first batch of chicks! One tip on the brooder; if you’re using a plastic lugger or the like as your brooder, lay a towel on the bottom. The slippery plastic surface can lead newborn chicks’ legs to splay outward; “spraddle leg,” because they can’t get traction on the plastic. I found this out the hard way. I was able to correct the condition with the chick, but why make things harder than they have to be? Good luck and God bless, folks!

    1. thank you for the info on “spraddle leg.” I asked the great google about it and found an article that had info on how to fix the problem.

      This article also included crooked toes and how to fix that problem. One of my newest baby chicks has the crooked toes on both feet.

      Here is the article on what to do and how to fix both spraddle leg and crooked toes. Also includes why these deformaties happen.

      https://the-chicken-chick.com/spraddle-leg-in-baby-chicks-what-is-it/

      These new chicks are my CoViD19 chicks. Didn’t need them but thought I ought to get some just in case. Six is five and so on down to one is none kinda thing.

  18. I generally incubate my chicks from my own eggs,
    Last year i did over 80 chicks
    Way more eggs, about 130 i think,
    I replaced my flock this year, kept 20 hens and a roo. Cut up the old chickens for sausage. Slaughtered the rest for meat. Split it with a friend, he paid gor feed, i did the raising.

    First brooder for them is a 150 gallon water trough, i put down newspaper for them, is a messy ordeal but not too bad, hang the heat lamp from a chain on the ceiling in my shop.
    After a couple weeks they go in a 4’x6’ coop/cage then after a couple more weeks go in an outdoor pen.

    This next time im going to free range the resultant chickens, just too expensive otherwise. Thinking ill start a load in incubator in a couple weeks, is a good source for protein!

  19. I love articles about chickens. And we know many newbies are now growing gardens and getting back yard chickens, so the article is timely.

    We have had chickens for a few years now. We have incubated our own, purchased local chicks, mail ordered chicks, and allowed our hens to hatch their own. Chicks are just fun and you know they will grow up to give you eggs, lots of good poop for your garden, and eat lots of bugs and weeds if you let them roam. And they provide a lively chicken parade when I head to the outhouse! LOL!

    Last year, I switched my standard heat lamps, like you have in your picture, for a Premier1 heat lamp. I was reading about fires from the heat lamps and felt it was a good investment for my peace of mind. The cost is up there at close to $40 but I have been very happy with it. I like that the bulb is well covered so when I have chicks that pop up, I do not worry. I have only used the red bulbs and have had good results. I would just suggest that everyone take care about how securely the heat lamp is hung.

    We have found that we enjoy what is called Easter Eggers. They are different breeds crossed with the blue egg laying chickens like Ameracauna. The resulting chicks have the cute tuffs on their cheeks and their tails are just a bit different. They are great foragers, get along well with each other and give eggs throughout the winter for us. This is important for us as we do not use lights in our coops and we do not have insulated coops. With the EE hens, you occasionally get a broody, perhaps because the Ameracauna is quite broody. Before I let my older Ameracaunas go, I incubated 8 or 9 eggs of a cross between my Ameracauna hens my Astralorp rooster. I got four hens and 4 roosters – the roosters are all stew now. These hens have all the features I like in my chickens – cold hardy, good foragers, good egg layers, docile hens, and sometimes broody. They lay an olive egg of good size (large).
    I continue to enjoy the Astralorp hens and rooster too. And I hatch several of their eggs each year to replenish our stock of this breed. I also purchased a Welsummer rooster and 6 hens as they appeared to fit my needs and I liked the idea of their egg color – brown egg with dark splotches on it. The Welsummer rooster for the Kellogg’s rooster. He is gorgeous and has a harem as I also put him with my Easter Egger girls. He is a good boy and calls them when he find food and watches over them well. So I will continue to hatch a few Welsummer each year too. But I am not sure I will get Easter Eggers again as I don’t have the assortment of chickens that would create these. I would just have a barnyard mix from these gals. But I think I would enjoy them and they would carry us over if needed. So we are going to hatch some of the EE eggs fertilized by Astralorp and Welsummer and see what we get.

    In our two separate flocks, the chickens pretty much keep in their own groups even thought they occasionally forage in the same areas. So far, everyone pretty much gets along. But I have seen the guinea hens pick at the chickens or run them off so they can hog the feed thrown. We currently have about 48 hens and 2 roosters and get about 32 to 39 eggs of various colors each day. Those we do not eat are sold each week.

    We use the TSC 24 percent chick starter for all our poultry chicks. I start them on the small grit a couple days before I have them outside pecking in the grass.

    Ken, you are going to enjoy having chickens!

  20. OK guys and gals, here comes a few really dumb questions. First let me quickly set the stage:
    New chicken guy
    I’ve got 7 hens and rooster cogburn (RIR)
    We’ve had these birds for 20 months or so
    Lost one hen along the way due to predator. (I think it was an owl) can’t prove it.
    Coop is on wheels inside of 5′ chain-link fence (garden) Light weight tunnels are attached to the coop (70 feet in 10′ sections) tunnels are placed between rows of garden produce. Moved as required. Let the birds pull the weeds between the rows.

    1, Broody- What exactly is this? We’ve got 1 or 2 hens that really like to sit on the eggs. Is that broody????

    2. I would like to hatch out a few chicks, as replacement birds, as these age out. If mother nature will do this, Ya Ya Ya.

    3. How long does a “broody” hen have to sit on the eggs for it to become a chick?

    That’s enough ?? for now. I have more dumb questions, but don’t want to overwhelm anyone with all my stupid.

    1. Good morning, Plainsmedic,
      A brody hen, at least from our experience, goes into like a trance, she makes kind of vibrato sounds, when you try to move her, her feathers are fluffed up, she is in the zone…

      Chicken egg incubation is 21 days. So as soon as you see hen go brody, that’s when you put the eggs under her. Make sure she has close access to food and water, she will not go far. Check that other hens aren’t pushing her off the nest. Make sure she is in a warm spot not drafty or damp.

      Hens are created to go broody when best environments (warm weather, good ground coverage of greens, bugs etc…) for raising chicks are present. Ours start to go broody in about mid May.

      1. Birdie,
        OK, more dumb ??
        I built my coop. There is 3 nesting boxes at the end and one door to access all 3. The nesting boxes are well off the floor of the coop.

        4. Should I leave the broody hen on her eggs in the nesting box? Just add in a few extra eggs?

        5. Better to move her and her eggs to a separate cage/area ?

        6. If and when the chicks hatch, will the other birds kill them? Protect ’em how? Separation

        Enough dumb ?? for now. Thanks for all you’ve taught me in the past.

  21. I use a large dog kennel wrapped with cardboard. The whole thing is set upon sawhorses. Keeps them warmer.

    I start with two 250w red heat lamps in work lights. One pointed at large pine flakes in one corner on the floor and the other at the cardboard near the floor. More of an attempt to warm the air and dry it out.

  22. Appreciate the information. One question at the moment. Is the heat lamp on 24/7? Okay, 2 questions actually, how long do you need the lamp?

    1. Yes, 24/7. Start at about 95 degrees-F as measured with a thermometer at brooder floor for first week or two. Then adjust height of heat lamp further away to reduce temp by 5 degrees per week until you’re basically at room temp. They NEED heat when they are very young. So don’t turn off the lamp until they’re ready.

      Others might chime in with their own experience…

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