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Brooder for chickens with their own hands

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What kind of bedding for chickens is better to use when kept in a box?

When breeding chickens in an incubator or under the hen in the first days of the chickens life, it is better to keep them in a small cardboard box with a heating pad. As a heating pad, you can use a household electric heating pad, adjust a low-power heater, or hang a 60-watt over a drawer. In the period from 1 to 5 days, the litter in the box must be necessarily warm, because during this period the chickens still heal the navel.

As a litter in the box in the first days of the chickens life, it is better to use a piece of cloth, preferably cotton. It is important that the fabric is constantly dry, so as the litter becomes dirty, it must be periodically changed.

Also chickens in the first and in the following days can be kept on sawdust. Sawdust absorbs moisture very well, and the litter remains dry for quite a long time. As the litter is contaminated, it is possible to fill up with new sawdust, but it is desirable to periodically completely replace sawdust with fresh ones.

Some poultry farmers also recommend using paper as bedding, but I don’t use it anymore. There was a case when the already slightly grown chickens turned over the water bowl and leaked to the sodden paper, while the feed in their feeder was there, eventually several chickens died, after that I did not use litter paper.

For the second week, chicks can already be kept on a deep bed of hay or dried grass. Hay also needs to be changed periodically.

I recommend to watch an interesting video on the content of chickens in the first days of life.

The simplest version of a brooder can be made from a sheet of plywood, 150 * 150 cm in size. After all the measurements and cutting the material, you will have a reliable box of standard size: 100 cm long, 50 wide and 50 high (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Drawings and photos of standard brooder

This design is considered the most common and versatile. The fact is that up to 50 newborn chickens, ducklings or goslings can reside in such a box. It is better to colonize chickens of broiler breeds of chickens or turkeys less, so that all individuals have enough space and there is no fight or hustle between the chicks. If you grow quails, much more chicks will fit in a box of this size.

To make it easier for you to make a poultry broder with your own hands, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the detailed drawing of this design in the figure.

How to choose and where to buy a brooder

Not everyone has the time and desire to make a brooder with their own hands. In this case, the best way out of the situation will be to buy an already finished industrial design.

To choose a quality brooder, you need to consider a few nuances:

  1. The design should be equipped with a heating device (lamp) with a temperature controller. With it, you can adjust the temperature in the box, depending on the age and general condition of the chickens. Models with automatic temperature control, but for home breeding chickens do not need them.
  2. It is better to choose a brooder with special ceramic heaters that maintain the temperature well, but do not irritate the chickens with bright light.
  3. You should also pay attention to the capacity of the brooder. This indicator is especially important for those who are going to grow large livestock.
  4. To make it easier to remove litter from the box, it is better to choose models with a mesh floor and a special tray to collect waste products.

In addition, a high-quality brooder is immediately equipped with several feeders and drinkers, so you just need to put the chicks in it for rearing.

Box for the smallest

Daily chickens are vulnerable and tender creatures. Yes, they still need a minimum of space, but for them the cage should be well lit and heated. Keep this in mind when making a do-it-yourself chick box.

Ready-made chicken coop - is it worth it?

Not everyone has the time to do the chicken coops and pens with their own hands. The solution is simple - buy a ready-made house. Anyone who is considering the purchase option should definitely be interested in Dodonov's hen-houses. This is a truly thoughtful, functional and design products for your birds.

The advantages of Dodon's chicken coops against hand-made are indisputable:

  • made from environmentally friendly materials
  • thought out to the smallest detail, functional and reliable,
  • will last more than one season
  • have an aesthetic look, you can choose the design of the chicken coop so that it blends in well with the design of your house and garden,
  • equipped with everything you need (drinkers, feeders, lamps, nests),
  • protected from predators and pests.

Only one of the minuses is the price of ready-made designer houses. Naturally, you need to pay for the design and functionality accordingly.

Which litter is better?

Bedding - an important element of the environment of birds of any age. The first bedding of day-old chicks should be a soft cloth or paper. This litter is easy to clean and it does not hurt the tender feet of chicks. Closer to the weekly age of the chicks transferred to the "adult" litter.

Universal litter materials are straw or thatch, wood shavings or sawdust, peat.

Peat perfectly absorbs moisture and has good heat dissipation, which is very important for small chickens, because their legs and tummies with unhealed navels must be kept warm. But most often used inexpensive sawdust. Chickens in small farms are often kept on a deep non-replaceable litter, when, as one layer of sawdust is contaminated, it is necessary to lay a new one on it. Save on bedding material will help cells with fine-meshed floor and a special tray for collecting litter.

Do not forget that contaminated litter is a direct threat to the lives of your feathered pets. Do not use rotted sawdust or straw as bedding material - this is a breeding ground for germs, bacteria, fleas and ticks. Pay special attention to the places near the troughs and feeders, where sawdust are contaminated first.

Parasites, away from the chicken coop!

Not only cats and dogs suffer from fleas and ticks, these parasites hunt up to feathered inhabitants. And if in an adult hen, fleas or ticks can only cause a decline in egg production, infection of an immature chicken can lead to its death. The most common and effective way to help get rid of fleas and ticks - smoke sulfur checker.

This checker creates a smoke screen consisting of sulfur and a-cypermethrin. Smoke easily penetrates into the nooks and crannies of the chicken coop, helping to remove not only fleas and ticks, but also colonies of mold. During processing, birds and their household items, such as feeders and drinkers, are removed from the hen house. It will help to bring out parasites and individual treatment of chickens and chickens. Suitable preparations Bars, Frontline, Feverfew, Ecoflis.

Can help get rid of parasites - fleas and ticks - and popular methods. Ash and strong-smelling plants of wormwood, rosemary, tansy should be hung in each hen house.

The most important requirements for litter

There are only four.

The first. The litter should absorb moisture well. It seems that chicken droppings are dry. In fact, it also has moisture, and it is trampled down by the paws of the chickens in the material they run through. Under the feet should always be dry. This is an important requirement. On wet or wet floors, chickens eat worse, grow more slowly, get sick more often.

The second. The litter should be good at absorbing droppings so that the contact of chicks or adult birds with them is minimal. No one can live well in waste! It is not necessary that the litter clings to the tender cannon, the feathers of the bird, its paws.


The litter should absorb litter well.

Third. Isolation from a cold floor. For a broiler chicken, it is important that in the first days the temperature is about 30 degrees, this applies not only to the air and the area under the heating equipment. The floor should be warm so that the feet of the chick are not cold.

Fourth. The dimensions of the litter particles should be so large that the chicken cannot swallow them.

We summarize what should be the litter for chickens:

  • easy
  • inexpensive,
  • not dangerous (non-toxic)
  • able to absorb well, absorb all the selection of broilers,
  • consist of fairly large particles.


The size of the litter particles must be so large that the chicken cannot swallow them.

For example, there is a large amount of sawdust in enterprises producing doors using modern technologies. But they can not be used for two reasons: too small fraction, which is formed during grinding, and the presence of varnishes, disinfectants, which cover the products.

Perhaps one of the most important criteria for choosing litter is the possibility of quick and profitable disposal: use as fertilizer, compost, mulch material, fuel. Of course, after some preparation.

What can be used

Each region has its own recycling waste. For example, in areas where rice is grown, the husk remains after the shelling of the grains. When processing sugar cane, waste is also generated, which can be used as bedding. However, for our climate it is very exotic materials.

Where it is possible to grow peanuts, or to process them, you can use peanut husks, but they clump together and form a crust on the surface (chicks crush them with their feet), but you can work with them.

Cut paper trampled, ceases to absorb moisture.

Sawdust - the most successful materials in our country. But there is a difference between softwood and hardwood sawdust: the latter have sharp and hard corners and edges. The chicken, after all, tries everything “on the beak”, and sawdust too. May inadvertently swallow. Then the throat or goiter will be injured.


Sawdust - the most successful materials in our country

The best sawdust from conifers. They practically do not clot, it is easy to agitate them, it is easy to rake up the trash from the surface with an ordinary plastic wide scoop, they perfectly absorb moisture and neutralize odor. It is believed that insects are also scared. Even better sawdust - small chips.

The average productivity of a sawmill at full load each month gives 100 m³ of sawdust. Sometimes you can take them for free. The company is only glad that someone will help to clear the territory from debris.

There is also straw. It must be cut. If you can choose, wheat is better in quality than barley. But all the same, the top layer is quickly compacted. Yes, and find the cut is very difficult.

How to evaluate the quality of litter

Here you can use the same way that we determine the quality of the soil: just squeeze in a fist. If the litter is dry, do not squeeze it into a lump, or it will disintegrate while flying to the floor. The litter does not stick to the palms.

If the lump when squeezed turned out, fell to the floor and did not crumble, it means that the litter is too wet. And this threatens chickens with diseases: inflammation can occur - on the skin of the sternum there will be seals (Namina). Yes, and ammonia in the wet litter is a bit too much, which means that the air will be bad, heavy, which also will not in the best way affect the health of the chickens.

Most best option - the litter to the palms slightly sticks, the lump crumbles easily.

How often to change the litter

In case of improper installation of the drinkers, when grown in one brooder (or shed) of broilers and ducklings (or goslings), under it and next to it will always be not just wet, but damp, wet. Here the litter needs to be changed several times a day so that broilers walk only on dry material. If the floor is warm, then the depth of sawdust can be only 2.5 cm. If the floor is not heated, then all 10 cm.


The litter should be dry and warm.

Almost a conclusion. For growing broilers need dry, warm, deep bedding, it is better from softwood. It must be clean. The upper (dirty) layer is regularly removed, after which fresh sawdust is added in approximately the same volume that was removed.

Where to keep day-old chicks

In nature, the hen deals with heating and caring for chickens from the first days of life. However, in incubator breeding of birds or when buying daily babies, there is no such possibility, therefore you have to either buy ready-made brooder, or make the structure yourself.

The finished version has its advantages: an optimally selected microclimate, the ability to simply change the parameters of humidity, lighting, etc., and ease of use. The device is already equipped with lighting and heating devices, ventilation and bedding, sometimes feeders and shelves can be included in the configuration. But it will have to pay a fairly large amount, which may not be entirely rational when breeding chickens in small quantities at its farmstead.

In this case, it would be better to build a brooder yourself from simple improvised means. A little knowledge, materials and tools - and you get excellent "nursery" for newborn chickens.

How to make a box for chickens

With minimal skills and knowledge, you can build a “home” for chicks from virtually any available materials. Instead of homemade brooder, the owners sometimes resort to using ordinary cardboard boxes or wooden boxes, but in such conditions it is difficult for the chicks to provide an optimal microclimate. Therefore, making a simple homemade brooder becomes a necessity.

Necessary materials

For the manufacture of a brooder for the content of 50 individuals will need the following materials:

  • 2 sheets of plywood 150 × 150 cm,
  • metal mesh with a cell size of 10 × 10 mm (cut 150 × 50 cm),
  • plaster grid (2 pieces 50 × 75 cm),
  • self-tapping screws
  • metal corners,
  • 4 door hinges,
  • wooden slats (width 50 mm, thickness 15 mm).

Brooder drawing example

To create a microclimate in a container, you will need:

Tool list

For the manufacture of a brooder such a minimum of tools is needed:

  • a simple pencil or marker for basting,
  • roulette,
  • hacksaw or jigsaw,
  • hammer,
  • universal glue,
  • level,
  • drill,
  • screwdriver (can be replaced with a screwdriver),
  • pliers,
  • wire cutters.

Brooder model

Choosing the best material

You can use various industrial wastes available in your area as bedding material. For example, in some countries rice or peanut husks, waste from the processing of cane sugar are used for this. In our area for growing broiler and egg breeds most often in the course are the following materials:

  1. Sawdust or wood chips. The most optimal and suitable option for many. They have excellent hygroscopicity, heat insulation, do not clog up and easily loosen, besides absorb an unpleasant smell. From sawdust it is easy to remove the top contaminated layer. In addition, it is believed that woody smell frightens off harmful insects. The disadvantage is that chickens will actively peck up sawdust, which can be dangerous for their health.
  2. Straw. If this option is available, it is best to choose wheat, but it will have to be crushed. Disadvantages is that the straw quickly clumps, gets wet, is covered with mold.
  3. Newspaper. Not the best option due to rapid wetting, pollution and the need for very frequent replacement.
  4. Peat. Good litter material. Of the benefits: good hygroscopicity, neutralization of unpleasant odors.

How to check the quality of the litter

High-quality litter should only slightly adhere to the palms when squeezed, but when unclenching the hand, it is easy to crumble. If the material does not stick at all to the hands and the litter cannot be molded into a ball, this indicates its excessive dryness.

If, on the contrary, upon squeezing, an elastic lump is formed from the material, which does not disintegrate when the hand is released, it means that the litter is too wet. With excessive moisture in chickens repeatedly increases the risk of infectious and colds, poisoning with ammonia gases.

How often to change the content

The frequency of changing litter depends on the degree and speed of its pollution. For example, when the chicks are crowded, when chicks and ducklings are kept together, or if the drinking bowls are not properly positioned, the litter will not only be wetted, but rather wet, creating an increased humidity and dampness. In this case, it must be changed several times a day.

If the density of planting of chicks is calculated correctly, then the litter material should be changed every 1-2 days, paying particular attention to the rest areas (this is how most litter usually accumulates) and the zones near the troughs and feeders. The thickness of the litter layer depends on the floor temperature: 2-3 cm is enough on the heated surface, and if the floor is not heated, a layer of 10 cm is needed.

Thus, day-old chicks can be kept both in the purchased brooder and in the self-created structure, which even an inexperienced person will be able to make. If such a device is not available, you can resort to using a conventional cardboard box or a wooden box, which you definitely need to insulate with bedding.

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