We spent our Saturday preparing for thirteen babies that are set to arrive tomorrow morning. Not human babies, thank goodness. We prefer our babies small, yellow, and chirpy!
Originally, we were going to be bringing Barred Rock chicks home, but something went awry with that plan and now we will be getting Red Star chicks instead. These will look just like Reba when they are full grown.
This is all part of a 4-H project within Lexie’s Poultry Club. We will bring home day-old chicks, raise them into pullets, and then take our five best hens to the 4-H fair to show and sell in August. The other nine will be ours to keep.
We’ve had our six hens for a year now, but when we brought them home, they were old enough that we could send them straight out to the coop. We’ve never raised chicks this small, so it’s going to be a learning experience. Hopefully, there will be no casualties in the process.
It was a team effort putting the chicks’ brooder together. We wanted to do it on a budget, so what you see here is probably not typical, but it’s cheap. And that’s how we like it.
We had originally planned to set up the brooder in our empty dining room, but with the remodel going on, our dining room has morphed into somewhat of a storage facility, so that option was out. The only other room downstairs with floors I don’t mind getting messy is the bathroom, so the bathroom it is!
We put the entire brooder together for just $40, including food and pine shavings, using a few store-bought supplies as well as things we already had around the house.
Speaking of using things around the house – it looks like I’ll only be taking handheld shots for the next six weeks because my camera tripod is currently doubling as a heat lamp stand. Cory has it rigged with a rope so that as the chicks need less heat every week, we can just tighten up the slack on the rope and bring the lamp up higher.
The plastic bin we bought for the brooder is from Walmart. We bought two so that when we’re cleaning one, there will still be another to keep the chicks in. A lot of people use rabbit cages because they are easy to get in and out of, but I’d prefer to protect our babies from drafts (and keep all the pine shavings inside the box) – I’m hoping the plastic sides will help a little with that.
Cory made a top for the brooder that you can see against the wall in the picture above of Lexie. He used old, discarded door trim to make the frame, and then ran chicken wire through the opening. We won’t need the top for the first couple of weeks, but definitely will around the third week when they learn to fly. Chasing chicks around the house is not what I intend on doing with my time.
I borrowed feeders and waterers from my friend, Anne, and set a 5-gallon lid underneath the waterer that will hopefully help keep the pine shavings a little more dry. As the chicks get bigger, I may have to remove that to give them more space to roam, but it’ll be fine for now.
Besides the plastic bins and the heat lamp, the only other things we had to buy for the chicks were starter feed and pine shavings. Our brooder may not be the prettiest, but it’ll work just the same. Our chicks arrive first thing Monday morning, so if you’re looking for me this week, I’ll be hovering over the brooder in the bathroom making sure everyone is alive and well!