Setting up the Brooder
The chicks are almost here! Prepare by setting up a brooder at least 24 hours in advance.
1. Disinfect all materials prior to use. Choose a disinfectant that is safe for animals and doesn't leave a residual film. A mixture of 10 percent bleach and 90 percent water can work well. Rinse thoroughly. Keep disinfectants handy so you can clean materials weekly.
2. Place your brooder in an area that is warm, draft-free and near electricity.
3. Set up your brooder. Provide at least 3 to 4 square feet per chick in a brooder that is circular and expandable. Avoid having square corners as chicks could get trapped.
4. Add absorbent wood shavings to the floor of the brooder, 3 to 4 inches deep, to keep the area dry and odor free. Do not use cedar shavings or other types of shavings that have a strong odor. Remove wet bedding daily, especially around waterers.
5. Assemble a heat lamp or radiant heater about 20 inches above the bedding in the center of the brooder. Provide 2.5 to 3 feet between the lamp and the guard walls so chicks can cool down if needed. The temperature under the heat lamp should be 95 degrees F on day one. Once chicks arrive, you will adjust temperature each week.
6. Place starter feeders in the brooder. Provide 4 linear inches of feeder space per bird. Start with clean egg cartons or slips of paper as feeders for easy access. Have low-lying or trough feeders on hand for day two when you will transition from the starter feeders to your everyday feeders. Feed should be available to the chicks at all times.
7. Place your bag of complete starter feed in a place where it will stay dry, at room temperature and away from rodents.
8. For every 25 chicks, fill two 1-quart waterers with water and place in the brooder. Be sure to place the waterers away from the heat lamp. The first thing you should do when chicks arrive is show them where water is by dipping their beaks into their water.