Brothers M. Mondays in May 2022 – Brooder Series Week 5

Brothers M. Monday is our way of sharing our excitement  about our chickens.

Folding1We still needed more brooder area, but I really didn’t want to dedicate more area to just brooders so I came up with the idea of fold up brooders that hang on the wall.

Folding2I made two 2’x4′  hinged brooder boxes. The bottom is hinged to the wall so it folds down, the two sides fold into the floor, and the front is hinged to Fold under the bottom.  The lid had hinge pins so you could take it off and hang it on the folded down brooder or store it someplace else.

folding3To support the front of the folding brooder, I hung chains from the rafters with S hooks on either end to unhook from the brooder and remove from the rafter to store the chains away.

I liked the boxes, but because of their size, they didn’t hold many chicks after I added the feeder and waterer, about 15, 20 max.  Also, I only folded them down when I had to have the space and they stayed up most of the time.

4x4So, I decided to take them out and make a 4×4 in the back corner.  A family member made a similar brooder to this one and gave me the idea.  The idea is that it’s 4’x4’x1′ so you can make it out of one 4×8 sheet.  I made mine a bit taller and added a strip of wire mesh, this was to give me a little more height for waterers and feeders, and I thought I might make more and stack them for transporting the full grown grown chickens, the latter never really panned out.

Even though this makes getting to the back corners of the two brooders in the back of the lean-to, I really prefer this brooder over the 2 hanging brooders.  It worked well this year.

Brothers M. Mondays in May 2022 – Brooder Series Week 4

Brothers M. Mondays is our way of sharing our excitement  about our chickens.

I decided we should have a dedicated brooder area so I cleared out my 8’x16′ lean-to and enclosed it. I lined one long wall with 2 3’x8′ brooder boxes.  The back is 3′ high and the front is 2′ high.  I chose 3′ wide to make it easy to reach the birds in the back; likewise, that’s why the front is shorter.  The back is higher so I can fit a 3gal waterer under the lid.  Additionally, I started out needing clearance for the lights which hung from the lid.

The lid is 2×2 frames with 1/4 hardware cloth, hinged in the back so it lifts up.  I use safety hooks to fasten it down so raccoons cannot unhook it.  I put additional eyehooks in the roof rafters so we can use the safety hooks to hold the lid up.

I switched the lights to sit on top the lid vs hanging because the chickens kept knocking the lights and they would fail; we lost several birds one night because of that.  So instead I sat the lights on top the lid, and attached the shroud to with pieces of wire.   I had to cut a hole in the lid to allow the lamp to protrude through since it sticks out further than the shroud.  This also comes in handy when I need to change a bulb.

Used pickle barrels line the opposing wall and make a safe place to store the feed. These brooders will hold 100 chicks each.

Brothers M. Mondays in May 2022 – Brooder Series Week 3

Brothers M. Mondays(on Tuesday this week) is our way of sharing our excitement  about our chickens.

Trailer1

We have a 3 1/2′ x 7′ wooden trailer, which became our next brooder.  I added a lid to it so we could use it to take the chickens to our processor.  It doubled as a pretty good brooder.  My biggest concern was that predators would breath through the lid, it’s made out of a 1×3 frame and 1/4 inch hardware cloth.  It’s pretty sturdy for travel when it’s locked down, but not really meant to keep something from chewing and pulling at the corners.

Trailer2Turns out I should have been more concerned about how secure the heat lamps were attached via the squeeze handle.  One fell off and burned a hole in the floor of the trailer.  Fortunately the conditions were right and it only smoldered a hold the size of a basketball instead of starting a fire.  Unfortunately I cannot find my picture of the hold.  After that I fastened the lights securely to the lid, which looked pretty ominous from outside the tent.

trailer3The down side of the trailer was running off an extension cord, how deep the trailer was for reaching onto it, and we outgrew it once we started raising more than 100 birds at a time.

Since I was worried about predators, I setup a trail-cam during one run.  Here’s a bonus video I made out of it, hope it makes up for the delayed post.

Brothers M. Mondays in May 2022 – Brooder Series Week 2

Brothers M. Mondays is our way of sharing our excitement  about our chickens.

Crate1Our very first brooder box was thrown together with a lamp and a plastic tote for 20 guinea fowl we bought.  But for the meat chickens, I needed something better and bigger.  I converted a pallet crate into a brooder.  I enclosed the crate on the outside with 2×4 wire fence to keep predators from breaking in.   I used some scrap composite wood flooring for the floor, I was a little short so there were a couple places I filled in with scrap wood. The crate didn’t have a top or lid, so I used a regular pallet with 2×4 fence attached for the top.  It wasn’t attached, but was heavy enough critters couldn’t move it.

Crate2I lined the inside with pink 1/2″ foam board insulation.  On the sides I attached some scrap Formica sheets to protect the foam board from being pecked and eaten, it didn’t protect all the way to the top, but that was only a problem when I temporarily hosed a grown bird in the brooder.  I had a piece of foam board that covered almost the complete top, then I sat the pallet top/lid on to of that.

Crate3An attached light to the side and a waterer and feeder and it was ready for chickens.  This worked pretty good.  But we quickly outgrew it, I think the max was about 30-35 birds.

Brothers M. Mondays in May 2022 – Brooder Series Week 1

Brothers M. Mondays is our way of sharing our excitement  about our chickens.

I’ve recently received a couple questions about starting chicks, so this year for Brother M. Monday’s in May I’m doing a Brooder series

One of these things

Starting out, here’s some general brooder basics I use:

  • Length – In general, the chicks can leave the brooder as soon as they are feathered out.  Anecdotal wisdom is that the sooner the chicks eat pasture grass, the sooner they build immunities.

Starting in early spring, mine usually go out near the end of 3 weeks.  After that they start crowding the brooder.  When raising them in the summer, I like to get them out around the end of the 2nd week, assuming we’re having warm weather, during a cold spell, I’d still wait another week.

  • Heat – I subscribe to a “normalizing” heat method using heat lamps.  This means I supply the heat and rely on the chicks to self-regulate their temperature by moving closer if they’re cold and further away if they are hot.  This method means you have to be observant to what the chickens are doing.

In the spring I use 250w bulbs and switch to 120w in the summer.  When the temperature drops low enough that the chickens are crowding the light, I use foam insulation and some blankets to cover the tops of the brooder, leaving appropriate space around the lights to prevent fire and allow air flow.

  • Bedding – I use the deep bedding method of bedding the chicks.  This means I layer in bedding as it gets soiled.  This method results in several inches of bedding, which gets sent to the compost pile when the chicks are done.

I use medium wood chips for bedding, don’t use cedar.  Fine chips will work, but you use a lot more in this method and there’s more dust which isn’t great for the chickens.

  • Water – I started out with plastic 1gal waterers, then switch to metal 3 gallon, well actually I started out with a couple quart waterers, but we outgrew them really quick.  I used the one gallon waterers because I initially sectioned off my big brooder into 4 sections and the 1gal worked well in that space.  I removed the dividers so I had 2 larger 3×8 brooders and switched to using the same 3gal metal waterers I use in the chicken tractor.

In the future I plan to switch to a nipple water system.

  • Feed – I started out with chick feeder troughs and quart feeders, but they didn’t hold enough food and were too cumbersome to keep up with.   I switched to using the same 7lb feeders that I hang in the chicken tractors, just sitting on the bedding.  I also set them on a piece of scrap deck board to help prevent wood chips from getting into them.
  • Space/segregation – I’ll mention the capacity of each brooder as I post them.  Initially I subscribed to more separation, 50 per brooder, but today feel that 100 per brooder works well.  The reason for separation is to prevent crowding, as chicks will trample each other.  However, my problem with separation is the lack of redundancy and the loss of brooder space for the equipment.

In my personal experience, with the brooder divided, I could only have one heat lamp per brooder.  When a bulb failed one night, I lost almost a dozen chicks due to cold and crowding for warmth.  After removing the divider,  there are two lamps offering redundancy in a failure, I experience a similar failure, but only lost a couple chickens due to the redundant light.  FYI, I think I got a bad batch of bulbs that year as I had several new bulbs fail.

Plus, using the one 3 Gallon waterer in the center instead of the two 1gal waterers gives the chicks more room.  It’s not necessarily about the actual space the waterer takes up, but the placement in the center.  In the divided brooder, the waterer always ended up near a corner which uses up more space.

I hope some of this info on how I do things is useful.  Stay tuned for the rest of the posts on the various brooders I’ve tried.

2020 CSA Update

Wow, what a month February was.  It’s been a little over a month since we kicked off the 2020 CSA season and our CSA slots are almost full.   A huge thank you is in order for everyone who’s supporting us by ordering.

If your considering a CSA order, we have a couple slots open so let us know what you want.

Thanks again for getting 2020 off to a great start.

 

2020 season kickoff

 

Our off-season hiatus is over and the 2020 season is officially kicking off.  We’ve been reviewing, planning, and scheduling so we could get the 2020 info out to you.

And here it is.

 

Now taking orders for our CSA.

We’re now taking orders for our CSA.  Please consider ordering a CSA to get our best pricing and guarantee your spot in line for chicken in case we sell out early again.

Your support through our CSA support it is the heart of our operation. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to provide produce our quality chicken for you.

This year we have to increase our prices for the first time.  To help compensate, you’ll notice we’ve increased the CSA discounts.  It makes even more sense than ever to purchase a CSA.

Check out our CSA Page for full details and to order.

 

2019 Season End

Thanks to everyone who supported us this year.  Our freezers are empty. You guys were great and surpassed our expectations helping us sell out of chicken earlier than expected.     THANK YOU.

If you were still hoping to get more chicken this year, we’re sorry to disappoint you.  However now is the time to be thinking about our CSA for next year.  Not only is it our best pricing, it’s also a guaranteed way to get the chicken you want.

Our CSA really is the life line of our operation.  Without it we couldn’t keep selling quality chicken.  So keep a look out towards the beginning of the year for more information on our 2020 CSA packages.

Now’s also the time to like us on Facebook and/or join our mailing list so you don’t miss out.

We, mostly Jason, also try to do a monthly post on the blog here at our website, in addition to posting important update.

 

Brothers M. Mondays – Family

Brothers M. Mondays – A new post each Monday until the 2018 market season starts on 5/26.

We are family.   Samantha fractured her ankle, but the chickens don’t care if you’re sick or hurt, they still need care multiple times a day.  So family kicks in.  Dad, Joseph and even a cousin or two have been helping Matthew while he’s the lone wolf.

Since Samantha couldn’t help, we put her to work taking some video.  And the youngest did her part by taking a few pictures and an unintentional  video of Sam and the boys with her new camera she got for her birthday.

Enjoy the video we’ve put together.