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You are Here: Home -> Forums -> General Discussion about Chickens -> New to Chickens

Topic: New to Chickens (12 messages)

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New to Chickens (12 messages)
Posted By Message Posted On Report
Score: 3
I just ordered some chickens yesterday (I'll be getting them in March) but this is the first time I have done this. I do have a couple of questions:
1.I know there is no concrete answer to this, but about what percentage of your chicks die from shipping stress, etc?
2.I live in Colorado where the temps in March and April can still be very cold. When should I take the heat lamp off of them? I know you are supposed to decrease the temp by 5 degrees a week until you reach 70 degrees, but I know the temps outside won't be 70 in March/April.
3.When my chickens are grown, how do I keep them warm in the winter. Do I just use heat lamps or will they be fine without one? Just F.Y.I., we can regularly hit -20 degrees in the winter.
4.Do I need grit for my chicks if I am feeding them food from the store (in other words not bugs and whatever else they can find)?
Thanks in advance for your help.
1/15/2015 8:17 PM report abuse
Score: 10
I can't help you with the cold weather stuff. We are in Texas and I have no experience there,
But with the grit I always have free choice crushed oyster shell in with all of my chickens. I have had chickens all of my life and have had very few egg binding or crop problems, I do also offer minerals to our birds, not salt but minerals. Good luck with your chicks. If you don't get an answer on here you might find it on a yahoo group site.
3/10/2015 11:38 AM report abuse
Score: 3
Thanks FLOYDW. That is helpful to me. Unfortunately, I had to cancel my order because I was trying this in a building that was not insulated and I could not get my brooder temps hot enough. It's too bad, but I may go ahead and order some in the summer when I don't have to deal with the cold.
3/11/2015 1:13 PM report abuse
Score: 10
I hate you had it cancel your order.
Advice if you are goign to raise chicks on a regular basis. Get set up for it. In the long run it will be easier for you to raise them. U did the right thing to cancel.
This doesn't mean you have to go spend allot of money on brooders etc.
I have done brooding two different ways and have found both really worked well so we combined the two methods and this worked out the best.
We built a brooder large enough to supply enough room for what we would raise at one time. We would put a wire bottom in it so they could stay in it for at least four weeks. So we built a box 4 feet by 8 feet and 30 inches tall. In the bottom we used 1/2 by 1 inch by 48 inch wire by bracing it 4 inches off of the floor. Then I built three pans that could be removed for cleaning. When we started the chicks we started them with news paper ont he wire till they could get stable enough to walk on it.
On the inside of the box we used two sources of heat, the second was a backup to the first in case it failed, we built a shelf up 12 inches off of the floor on one end that we could mount an electric heater to. The heaters have a auto cut off if the heater becomes tipped but I still built a wire cage around the heater for safety measures,we wired two thermostats up using heavy duty extension cords so we could just plug our heat sources into the thermostat, the heater is turned on the max temperature and fan settings then the thermostat turns it on and off when the heat is needed. Most think the heaters have a thermostat most are not a regular thermostat they are what I call an area thermostat.
We then evenly spaced out two infared clamp lights each one 2 1/2 feet from each end, be sure to secure your clamp lights with tie strap securely, I also wired them to the second thermostat. We set the back up heat inda red to come on 6-7 degrees behind the primary heat source, this way you have a back up heat source and an extra heat source just incase your electric heater cannot keep up with the cold temperatures.
We also added an exhaust fan on an automatic timer to supply fresh air and also keep it from becoming moist on the inside of the brooder. You need enough fresh dry air to help dry out the droppings of the chicks. We also built two vents , one on the top of the box and the other on the oposite end of the Fan. We used a levered vent on the oposite end that would open when the fan came on and then close when it went off. For the top vent I used plexiglass and fixed it so we could open and close it easily by sliding the Plexi glass to open the vent. We also used screen wire stapled down to keep anything out when the vents were open. We usually had to keep either the top vent cracked or the door at the bottom to the clean out trays to keep it from getting moistl this door is necessary to keep from loosing your heat out the bottom.I built my dropping trays out of plywood and 1x3 s then painted them and placed newspaper int he bottom lines with cat litter. Once I started using the cat litter, it stayed so much more dryer. The fan force electric heat hello to dry out the droppings.
I already had my thermostats for the build but still spent less than 125 for this huge brooder. On year I raised 1200 bobwhite quail to 5-6 weeks in this box four times one year,
It worked out well for both quail and chicks.
I am not sure how many you are raising but you can use the same idea and make it to fit your the size that you need, if you are building smaller two infa Reds would work. The reason I used the heater is because we don't like using lights 24 hours a day, also when raising the Cornish cross meat birds they need to be in the dark at night and food removed. I hope this explains how we raise our chicks here but we rarely have temps below 20 degrees and it usually warms up into 40s plus on an average.
I think this same idea would work for U, this brooder would give you two heat sources for when it is really cold out. The vents can be closed completly when the temps are below freezing, we found we did not need as much ventilation because of the wire bottom and being able to clean it out regular. But fresh air is needed.
I hope this helps and gives u an easy idea to keep ur chicks warm.
3/11/2015 3:01 PM report abuse
Score: 4
John, we live in eastern Co. If you are in the mountains you do get colder than us and for longer periods. We hang a heat lamp in our uninsulated house. (it was built by my grandparents and used by them for many years.) We have a small area enclosed in one corner for chicks. They can self regulate by moving under the lamp or not.

We leave the lamp on until they no longer get under it. Being pretty rural we make sure to have the generator ready in case of power failure.

Adult birds seem to do fine with no extra heat. I don't ever remember my parents or grandparents using heat for adults. A light left on for a few hours during the winter will increase egg production.
3/12/2015 9:35 AM report abuse
Score: 3
I'll reply to both posts in one:

FLOYDW: Thank you so much. This does help me. Maybe I just missed it, but what do you use to cover the brooder? Also, were should I look to find one of those heaters that you are talking about?

You mentioned how many chicks I was getting. I was going to try 150 this time and maybe try more in the future.

Thanks again for helping a newbie like me who knows nothing about this!

STEVEN15: Thank you also. I actually live on the plains also (about 40 miles east of Colorado Springs). Last week when we were in the 20's I was setting up for the chicks which were supposed to come this week. I couldn't get the temps directly below the lamp above 60 degrees and the edges of the brooder were the same as it was outside the brooder. I moved one of the brooders up to another building (still not insulated) and tried putting two lamps over one pen. I did eventually get it up to 95 degrees directly under the lamp but at the edge of the brooder, two feet away, it was still 32 degrees. This would have worked if I had only been getting a few chicks, but I don't think it would have worked with 50 in each pen.
Thanks for you other advice as well. I'll be sure to remember that!
3/12/2015 3:38 PM report abuse
Score: 4
John, I know your area. I live almost to the Kansas border off of highway 50. I take 94 on my way to the springs often on the way to my Dr. Our weather is sure variable.

We have never had problems keeping our chicks warm with just the one heat lamp. Then we get them in April most times. Like today it is in the 70s. I think the most we ever got was 50 at any one time.

Currently we have 6 pullets we got at tsc. I had a grandson with me and he begged until i broke down. They had started getting feathers so they are handling the move well. We have an order for 10 Egyptian Fayoumis 10 RIR pullets and 25 RIR sr. Scheduled for delivery April 7. This is our first order from MM. We had always picked them up at a local farm store.

We have had chickens off and on for years. Grew up with them. Far from expert but have some knowledge. We use a coop built by my grandparents many years ago.

If i can help let me know. Good luck with your chicks.
3/12/2015 5:09 PM report abuse
Score: 10
If you build your brooder very large put two doors on top. That way you won't let all of your heat out when you open the top. Where we had our top vent I used one for a door also . I put a screen door on the inside,that woud fold to the inside. It was 16 by 16 and was plenty of room to access the food etc.
I used plywood for the whole Construction . Using 2 by 4 s for the frame. I framed out the vents shelf and top door with 2 by 2 s I did not want them to warp from any moisture .
The heater we use is just a small ceramic heater like you would use I your bathroom. The little small blk one U see at Walmart.
They come in 750 watt and up to 1500 watts. With the large size we used the. 1500 watt. With the infrared light be sure to use the brooder clamp lights with the ceramic socket. Also cover the lights on these infa red brokers with a good net wire and wire it to the shield. I had to drill a few wholes . But this will save your lights and also keep the chicks from flying into them and possibly getting burned. They can also hit them and blow them out. So the wire will protect the bulb. At ten bucks a pop you want to cover the shield.
You know how chickens create dust so when I made the wire frame around the heater. I made it easy access to remove the heater from the top . So I could take it out and brush it off when it became dusty to explain a little better where I put the heater was like a little small wire box cage ,you want to make sure it is at least 2 inches from the edge wall so it can move plenty of air. So what I did was build a small wire cage on the shelf and screwed it down . Made a door in he top of this cage so I could just take the heater out.
I mounted all of the thermostats inside . We went. A little further in the top and the side I had half a sheet of plexi glass so I added part of it to the top and the front of the box. Sure was nice to be able to view the chicks and see their activity. This is when you can really see that they are happy active .etc. Watch them you will learn to read them. Usually if they are. Screaming peeping loud there is something wrong, they are cold , wet out of water ..something is up. A chick is like any other baby eat sleep poop.
I hope I am explaining this. I wish I had pictures make things so much easier.
It took us sometime to build it but it was so nice to be able to place the chicks into it and know you had a back up heat source and also our lights were on a timer so I didn't have to be there to turn lights off at a certain time. Unless we were raising the Cornish Cross broilers I did nt remove their food at nights .
Having these back ups doesn't mean you just look at them once a day. . If you are still using this when it warms up . You may have to increase ventilation time to keep the temperature down where it needs to be, when it becomes full they will generate heat and need the fans to run longer, when we were raising quail we wired up a back up thermostat to turn the vent fan on also when it got over 85 degrees. To hot is not good eitherl. How long do u plan on leaving the chicks in the brooder will depend on how large you want to build your broode also.
Post edited by FLOYDW 3/12/2015 7:23 PM
3/12/2015 7:02 PM report abuse
Score: 3
STEVEN15: I was actually thinking of also going to a supply store and getting about 6 for starters. Then I will probably get the 150 late June/early July.

Thanks for offering to help, I really appreciate it!

FLOYDW: Thank you. I think I am getting a pretty good picture of what you are describing. It sounds really ingenious and I will sure think about giving it a try. One question I have is how much electricity does all this use? Does it run the bill up a lot? And maybe you don't know this but could I plug this all in on one circuit or do I need to use multiple circuits?
3/13/2015 1:12 PM report abuse
Score: 0
Received my chickens today, was so excited and they are adorable. My Exotic Bird is going to be beautiful. I think they like me, they are not afraid of me at all. They are going to be closely watched considering I lost 8 hens and 1 Rooster to a weasel
9/20/2016 9:31 PM report abuse
Score: 0
My exotic Bird didnt make it, only had it 2 days. Very sad and dissapointed, it was a White Silkie.
9/22/2016 9:15 PM report abuse
Score: 4
Cindy, We had about the same thing. I had not bothered to try to identify our exotic but it only lasts 3 or 4 days. All the others made it and are now about 1 1/2 years old. We did lose 2 to dogs.
9/26/2016 6:42 PM report abuse