8 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Get Backyard Chickens

Unfortunately, sometimes people aren’t suitable to raise chickens. Make sure you ask yourself these 8 questions to see if you are suitable to raise backyard chickens… Continue Reading article by The Happy Chicken Coop

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October’s Hatch, Brooder to Coop in Phoenix, How and When

Update 2018 | I no longer use heat lamps & have switched to radiant heat. Brinsea Ecoglow

Once again, my informative article on what age chicks can leave the *brooder. A week by week guide to help you transition your October hatched chicks from inside to the outdoor chicken coop… in Phoenix.

Small Brooder with 20 2 day old chicks

It is a little different raising chicks in Arizona. October is the best time to raise chicks in Phoenix,  it’s much easier to keep chicks warm than it is trying to keep them cool.  High temps in the day are in the mid to high 80′s and nights in the high 50′s and low 60′s. My brooder area is an addition off the house without controlled temps. Therefore, 80′s outdoors means 90+ in the enclosed off the house structure. I use a red low wattage brooder lamp at night about 20 inches above brooder and only natural lighting during the day.

At 3.5 weeks I move them to the outside coop. They will be confined there with a 250 watt red brooder lamp 3-4ft above ground which is left on day and night. Half of the coop is unheated. Temps in late Oct. are usually in the 80′s and at night upper 50′s.

At 4 weeks I open the coop doors to the chicken yard offering them the choice to fly the coop so to speak. They will venture out briefly then run back to the coop. After about 4 days they brave the outside world. Brooder lamp is still left on. Every night the coop doors close and all chicks are huddled together under the lamp.  It is now the first part of November and temps. are in the mid to upper 70′s, lows around 55.

At 5-6 weeks the birds are fully feathered, heat lamp off around 10AM, and turned on around 3PM. I find this important because the brooder lamp lures them in the coop as dusk approaches – exactly where I want them to go every night… always.

At 7 weeks the temps are high in the mid 60′s and lows in the 40′s. No heat lamp. However, it is now that I introduce an LED light where I want them to sleep at night, and eventually lay their eggs. The birds go the the light, even though it provides no heat. I choose an LED source of light because the batteries last a really long time, up to a month. My nesting area requires a ladder ( I use a sturdy tree branch) and as long as there is a light up there they all adapted quite easily to the change.

At 8 weeks it is unlikely that your birds will require a heat source at night, especially if you have six or more birds. Pack the nest area with plenty of bedding (I use bermuda grass hay) to help insulate the chicks from the cold.

*A brooder is a heated container that has a temperature controlled area. It’s used to confine chicks until they are old enough to go outside.

A Nifty Thrifty Brooder

A Brooder Doesn’t Need To Be Fancy – Just Functional

My brooder is nothing more than a cardboard box, 10ft long 3ft. wide, and 16′ high. If your box isn’t high enough you can easily attach additional cardboard to the sides using zip ties.

Duct tape and zip ties are my friend, be creative, you’ll be amazed what you can build with what was once considered junk in the garage or shed.

I found some leftover ceramic floor tiles in the garage and used them to line the bottom of the brooder. Newspaper on top of any flooring will help make cleanup easier.  Pine shaving are expensive so as an alternative I use shredded paper saved from my home shredder. However, for the first week I use only paper towels on the bottom so food sources are not confusing to the chicks.

I use a few bricks to build a platform in the center of the brooder where their feeder sets, and the same for the drinker in one corner of the brooder. Day old chicks will have no problem accessing their food and water sources if both are raised, this limits feed waste and helps keep the water clean.

Chicken wire simply laid over the top of the brooder will be sufficient in confining them. They have little interest in escaping, but can spook easily when disturbed by basic brooder chores, so better safe than sorry.

The heat lamp is best situated at one end of the brooder, it’s important to have sufficient space for your chicks to find their comfort zone. It’s a good idea to have a thermometer at both ends of the brooder, but if you watch your chicks behavior it’s quite obvious when they are cold or hot.

When they’re cold they will all huddle together under the heat lamp, when hot they’ll lie down holding their wings away from their body. Somewhere in between is where you want to keep your babies, just watch them, they’ll be quick to inform you of a problem.