Failing With Our First Chicks

Farm Updates

We’ve ordered two batches of baby birds to grow our flock this year. First to arrive will be a large collection of chickens. I ordered them early so we’d get a jump on the season and hopefully be getting plentiful eggs by the end of the summer. After careful consideration, I settled on a brooder setup involving 2 hover brooders in a horse trough located in my garage. There’s nothing innovative about this design. It’s a setup similar to many I’ve personally witnessed and seen described online. I would have 2 hover brooders for the chicks and a heat lamp over the entire space. Unfortunately, we discovered it didn’t work.

Our flock was already in transit from Iowa to Michigan when I was picking up some waterer bottles. On impulse, I checked the baby chicks and saw bantam chicks available at our local TSC. We’d discussed putting a small bantam flock near the house since we really enjoy the free-range flock we’ve had since last fall. We’ll be making them decidedly less free-range shortly as we hope to keep them out of our neighbors gardens over the summer. We thought having some bantams near the house would still let us look out the window and enjoy the birds. So, I picked up a bunch of mixed straight-run bantam chicks.

The chicks didn’t make it. We rapidly discovered that our brooder was not working and we lost the first batch of chicks to cold. Tacking stock of the situation, I rushed back to TSC and got several more heat lamps, a chicken thermometer, and a handful more chicks. Even with the new heat lamps, we weren’t able to maintain the temperature above 80 degrees in the garage. Moving the entire setup into the mudroom, we were finally able to get the temperature to a high, stable temperature. Unfortunately, in the process, we lost even more chicks.

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