Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 27, 2011

Well, I feel with this post, I'm finally catching up with myself a bit, blogging wise.  I've been dying to write this post for several days now, but it just didn't fit. This is going to be very picture heavy as I wanted to show you everything. Yes, it's another chicken post, but it represents a bit of a milestone of sorts.  The chicks are now just over one month old, well three of the four are. Buffy's one month today.  So Monday after Easter, I finally took pity on the teenagers and gave them keys to their new car... no, not a car, but a new house at least.  They've been acting crazy in their confined space, something I've read about, but never witnessed.  I figured it was finally time to do something about it before they started pecking each other.  In case you're wondering, this is how big they were on moving day!

My how they've grown in 4 short weeks! So, with the help of my youngest, who is off school Mondays, we cleared a space in the garage for the huge Costco potato box and I cut the octagon and placed it in the bottom of the bin to cover the gaping hole in the middle.  Here my little guy wanted to be in the picture and in the bin, sporting his PJs.

You may notice the dozen or so holes at the bottom of the bin.  My brother's bin didn't have those, so I spent about 15 minutes cutting small pieces of cardboard and duct taping them on the outside of the bin. I wasn't worried about the girls getting out those holes, but they'd definitely kick bedding out them, which would be a big mess.  Then my son and I filled the bin with what seemed like a ton of wood shavings.  We went about 3 inches deep.

Sorry for the mess, the garage still needs to be cleared out of all the stuff we don't want or need to find a place for.  You know how it is.  Anyway, I had been straightening out the 3 foot wide piece of 1/2" hardware cloth that my brother gave me for the roof, for several days. Though when I placed it on top, I realized there was a several inch gap on either side that would be problematic.  I wasn't worried about the birds escaping as they're too big to fit through, but I didn't want them trying to escape and getting hurt on the sharp wire. So, what now? Well, I thought back to the cover I figured out for the previous brooder. I had plenty of window screens saved from our renovation project two years ago.  I've used them with limited success to shade my lettuce during the heat of the summer to stave of bolting.  Out back I had three big screens, so I grabbed two and threw them on top.  Presto! I had my lid.

Oh and I took about an hour to figure out the proper position for the heat lamp. It took my three foot chain I bought for the lamp, plus a few saved chain pieces that came with my shop lights for my light system, but I got 70 degrees.  I really should be at 65 now, but I decided to give them a few more days at 70 to ease the transition.  I've found the temp on the other side of the brooder is about 60 degrees, so in a few weeks, I'll remove the lamp altogether.

At this point, it was time to move over all the gear from the old brooder.  Boy were they confused when I took the water and food away.  It was at this point that I had to do some tinkering with the pieces to fit the new brooder, as well as, their new larger size.  For one, the 2x6 I used to keep the water bedding-free was too low, so I screwed some scrap 2x4s and 2x2s to the bottom to raise it up a few inches. Next, I took two 2x4s and placed the food on it rather than on the bedding itself to keep it from becoming covered with shavings.  Finally, I had to figure a way to stabilize the roost. Before it was braced by the 2x6 that the water rested on, as well as, the brooder wall.  Now it was just too wobbly on the bedding. So, looking around the garage, I found just what I needed... a paint stir stick.  I cut it in two and screwed it into the bottom of the roost. Good as new.  Hey, if you hadn't figured it out by now, I'm completely function over fashion.

So, here's their new digs before they moved in. 

While this new brooder was sitting empty of chicks, the old brooder was sitting empty of gear, but full of chickens...

I promise this is the last picture of my spare bathroom you'll have to see.  But it is noteworthy that I made use of my old versatile cone light with just a 100 watt bulb to keep them warm while I was tinkering with the new brooder and bringing it to the right temperature.  Oh yes, I will also say that I will definitely miss having such close access to water next to my brooder.  The nearest water to the new brooder is this same sink, about 40 feet away through three rooms. Hehe, yeah, I'm showing how lazy I am.

Next, it was time to move the girls.  Rather than to traumatize them by moving them in the brooder, I brought each one at a time out to the new brooder.  They all did very well, though Buffy is still skittish around me. So, here they are in their new digs! They don't look quite so big in it, which is the whole point of the exercise. Can you believe this box will only be used for another month! I shudder to think what they'll look like when they move out to their coop?

Later that night, I decided to change the roost yet again.  I found it was way too short for them all to roost on, so I grabbed a scrap piece of 2x3 from the garden and replace the 2x2. Now it's definitely long enough for all them, and it is the same size board as their eventual permanent roost in their coop.

I've taken to spending a ton more time with them now that I don't have to sit on the thrown to watch them.  I've spent hours sitting and reading my book watching them in their new digs.  They've torn up all the bedding looking for worms (or maybe the grit I threw down knowing they'd dig).  I may add a 2x2 to one side of the food to allow any of them that want to peck down into the food the ability to do so.  Though Buffy can use it, I've found she isn't eating as much as the others.  She needs to eat to catch up if she wants to be the biggest hen (she is by breed).  Another possible change is to raise the height of the roost.  There's not much room to go up in this box, but I could increase it a few inches.  I'd like to transition them better to the coop, where the roost will be two feet off the bedding to be higher than the nesting box. 

Anyway, at this point, I thought I show you my brother's brooder box for comparison purposes. I'm not sure everyone that reads my blog reads his too.

Similar, but different for sure.

Hope you've enjoyed my chicken adventure towards greater sustainability!


  1. Wow! The girls are growing fast. Hopefully, Buffy will catch up soon. Looks like they are happy in their new box.

  2. Perfect set up Sinfonian! Your girls will thrive and be so much happier with the more spacious digs and I am glad you thought to use the screens for the cover. They definitely start "trying their wings" and having a cover over the top that lets in light and allows you to view them but keeps them in - is definitely a necessity. That box is the ideal size and a great find.

  3. nice! we had to do the same thing, of course... they can only stay in the tub for so long. We went to the appliance store and got a "Big Green Egg" box, which seemed kind of wrong, but it worked. Not as pretty as your octagon! And nice with the screens, I should have thought of that... instead I have prickly hardwire stapled to scrap 2x4's - not at all elegant, but it keeps the cat out and the birds in.