I was a bit surprised that when I went to look around, I could not easily find a simple list of what you needed to get started raising chickens. BTW, a chicken brooder is where you raise baby chickens. A chicken incubator is where you hatch fertile chicken eggs. This is a chicken brooder (baby chickens) setup. All of this is to duplicate what a mother chicken does naturally. Sit on her chicks keep them warm and together.
I see a lot of post and videos about starting which mostly go over what you need to do, but not a list of what you need to buy. So I wrote this post. We are raising Plymouth Rock in the barred color laying hens. I only wanted ten hens, but the minimum Internet order was 15. If you are buying locally, you need to check when your Country store or Tractor Supply store has chicks in because they only have chicks a few times a year. We missed that time. Thus we went with an Internet order, and the minimum order was 15. What you need to care for chickens, and I think most animals is the same thing you need to care for your family or in a bug out situation; shelter, heat, water, food. Here is what we used to start our new chicken flock.
Shelter. We are currently using our recycled ATV trailer as our first chick brooder. If I had my way, I would use a larger wire dog crate. The reason is it is more secure in keeping the chicks inside. I am a bit worried about the chicks on the wire, but I would use old packing boxes which we have a lot of and then newspaper. Anyway, we had the ATV trailer and thus used it.
Heat. We used a simple (cheap) silver heat lamp we purchased from the local Tractor Supply. We hung it from a part of our shop. They recommend using a chain to hang the light, but I didn’t have any at this time. Our shop has a concrete floor, and the ATV trailer is metal, and we are using old newspaper thus there is less of a chance of fire. After we had realized we had a 20 degree F drop from under the light to the furthest corner of our “brooder”, I kept trying to figure out how to get more heat spread around. My eldest daughter then volunteered “hey our neighbor who has chickens has two heat lamps.” I was like “duh!”
After doing some work on the heat lamp, I realized I wanted was Prima Heat Lamp. It is fully enclosed in a plastic housing and thus further reduces the chance of fire. When I save up some more money, I will buy one or two of these. If I had to do this again, I would have purchased two Prima Heat Lamps with 250-watt bulbs for the chicken brooders. Note, we drove around to five different Country / Tractor supply stores and could not find any that carried the Prima Heat Lamps. They may be online only. They have other ways to heat chicks. One way is called the Ohio chick heater, which is normal lights under a tight box. That is a good idea, and if you are primarily heating chicks, this may be a thing to think of. However, the next animal I am dealing with is pigs. Thus I want to invest in something I can use with the chicks, something I can use with baby pigs and something I can use to provide heat in the winter for the chickens. Thus I want to look at something more flexible, and the Prima Heat Lamp seems to be pretty good. Because we didn’t have the second heat lamp, we found an old electric heater for the house. We turn that on at night with the heat lamp to keep most of the box above 90 degrees. Continue reading »