Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Special Consideration

When you have a bunch of these…

And the weather forecast looks like this…

You had better review your options.

Last week our local TSC began their “chick days”.

Since it was the plan to get going ASAP on the whole broiler project for the season, I picked up a bunch on my way home from the feedstore/bank/grocery run.  That was a LOUD trip back from town.  Maybe all those chicks thought they were singing with the radio…but, boy, did they make a lot of noise!

The plan was to put them in a big tub in the shop, complete with lights and feed and water, for a day or so until we got the brooder all spiffed up for them.

The brooder building needed a little re-furbishing.  Time has not been kind, and there were some major gaps along the edges.  Not only would these gaps allow cold air to penetrate, they were large enough to allow small creatures access to the building.  Rats will eat small chicks…and we couldn’t have that.
you could see daylight at the floor line of the brooder

However, the weather forecast was not looking cooperative at all.  The temperatures have been unseasonably cool for some time now, but suddenly we were looking at 10 to 20 degrees below normal.  For the chicks, this could spell disaster.  

But, having the chicks in a tub in the shop wasn’t the solution either.  All those little guys were making a very BIG mess.  They needed to move…and move soon!

Small chicks need to be kept very warm. Heat lamps in the brooder provide a good deal of warmth, but warm air rises.  That means that the cold air would force itself down on the chicks while the roofline of the brooder stayed nice and toasty.  Of course, that wouldn’t do. Ordinarily, we don’t worry about the weather getting COLDER this time of year.  We are usually looking at a steady increase in temperatures as we get closer to Spring.

As always, the Boss had a plan.  Apparently, he had had this plan for quite some time, although I was completely unaware of it.

He said he was going to use an old galvanized tub that had sprung a leak to build a hover.   **a hover is a device suspended above the lights…holding the heat down near the chicks…much like a hen would gather her chicks under her feathers**

After cutting a hole in the bottom of the tub, he attached some legs…making the top the bottom, or vice versa…and modified a heat lamp to fit. Voila!  The "ultimate homesteader hover"! How's that for re-purposing? 

wood shavings are used for bedding in the brooder
Boards were cut to fill the gaps.  Bedding was added to the brooder.  The new hover was installed.  Feed and water were supplied and our “containment ring” was put in place.  The containment ring is used for the first few days in the brooder so that the little chicks will be kept close to the warmth as they acclimate to their new surroundings.  By the time they are a week old, they need more room and the ring is removed.

The chicks were captured and put back in their little boxes (just to make transport to the brooder a little easier).  Once in the brooder, they began to explore their new surroundings.  The hover provided a perfectly warm and toasty environment despite the plummeting temperatures.

Now, about that big snowstorm they are predicting…


  1. Love the last few shots of the chicks :-)
    So the Boss is working again now? Or is his foot (obscured by tub) still in the support/cast?

    1. The chicks are so cute at this stage. The brooder has great lighting.
      He's trying to work. The boot-thingy stays on until Thursday and then he says that he's back at it, no matter what. Here's hoping!

  2. Oh, I remember those days...

  3. What kind of bulb did you use in the lamp fixture?!? Awesome idea...

    1. It's just a 250-watt heat lamp from Lowe's. They sell brooder light bulbs, but they are only 125-watts and don't give off enough heat for winter temperatures.
      And, thanks for commenting!