Saturday, February 7, 2009

In the Mood to Brood...



Realizing yesterday morning that I had made no arrangements for brooding my baby chicks when they (eventually) arrive, I set out to rectify the situation. With my mantra of Re-think, Re-use, Re-purpose reverberating in my skull, I quickly settled on a long cardboard box with a lid.

I had originally considered using a Rubbermaid tote that had been purchased it at WalMart about a year ago( shortly before I decided to boycott the retail chain).

The plastic tote measured only about 4x2 feet. I wanted to install a window in the side of the tote, but decided against it. While I am sure that the chicks would have appreciated a room with a view, I didn't want to do anything to a tote that would interfere with it being reused again for something else.

So, I moved on to converting a fabulous, lidded corrugated box. The box would provide more floor space for the birds than the tote would have anyway. Since I can only have a few chickens in the city, it is unlikely that I will need a brooder of this size again, so I have no plans to recycle it when we are through with it. Since it is made of cardboard it will be contaminated from chicken poo and incapable of being cleaned.All bedding materials will of course be turned out into the compost pile.

Anyway...I wanted the brooder to be large enough to accommodate 6 chicks, so I devised something that they could grow into. The floor of the box is waterproofed with leftover linoleum from some of the rental apartments that we own. Martha Stewart probably wouldn't approve of my taste in decorating, but the flooring will be covered in pine shavings, so the chicks won't really be embarrassed by it anyway.I found a roll of screen in my basement and will probably use that to cover the top. However, I am toying with the idea of using an old sheer curtain instead...Hmmm... The birds will only occupy one portion of the box initially. When they need more room, I will bring out the other half of the box(the lid)and put the two parts together, instantly doubling their space.(What you see in the photo is the expanded version which measures 4x5 feet.) Even more convenient is the fact that the two parts of the box actually "nest" together for storage until we actually need to expand it. This project was accomplished entirely with things that we had lying around the house and took about an hour to complete.

9 comments:

ChristyACB said...

Those little chickies won't care what Martha says about their floor. Can't wait to see them.

TheMartianChick said...

I can't wait to get chicks. I actually had a nightmare that tipped me off to the fact that I didn't have a brooder. In the nightmare, my chicks arrived and I had no place to put them. A freak thunderstorm in my livingroom caused them to get wet and die from pneumonia. (No one said that dreams have to make sense!)That was the catalyst to make the brooder...LOL

Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

I don't know how "slippery" that vinyl is - I imagine it is pretty slick. Slick flooring (like magazines or slick ad sections of the newspaper) can cause leg problems in chicks. It will affect them forever and can lead to death. Just a thought. We used a wooden box with an old towel in it for the first few weeks. Once they're about 2 or 3 weeks old, you can switch to leaves, shredded newspaper (not slick) or pet bedding (like for hamsters). We did wash the towel everyday (have several to swap out) and then cleaned out the brooder everyday. Hope this helps!

TheMartianChick said...

Thanks for the idea, Melissa! I hadn't thought much about the "slick" factor... I had planned to use a good thick layer of pine shavings over the vinyl. I know that baby chicks will sometimes try to eat the shavings, so some people put paper towels over the shavings for a few days. A cloth towel might actually be easier to use, though.The weight is heavier than a paper towel and as you pointed out, it IS washable.It would also create a more substantial barrier to the pine shavings in the first few days to ensure that no shavings are ingested.

pdxlisa said...

I LOVE the floor, and I can't wait to see your cuties feasting on the meal worms.

For bedding I used wood stove pellets, too big for little chicks to eat, super absorbent, breaks down easily in your composter.

TheMartianChick said...

Excellent idea, pdxlisa! I was pricing lumber at Home Depot last night. They had bags of pellets for $2.99 stacked near the entrance. I might have to try that out!

Debbie said...

Your little chicks will have a cozy home when they arrive. This is my first visit to your blog. It's great. I live on a city lot, and am slowly turning it into an urban farm. Have fun farming.
Debbie

TheMartianChick said...

Thanks, Debbie! I will be keeping an eye on your blog, too. Maybe we can do this urban farm thing together!

Patrice Farmer said...

What a great ideal!