Brooder 2019

The first chicks of the season should be here on Thursday. To prepare for their arrival we’ve been running shakedown testing on our newest chicken brooder. A brooder is a controlled environment where chicks spend their first few weeks until they develop the ability to regulate their own body heat, after which time they can go out to pasture.

Every year I end up building new brooders, both to accommodate larger flocks and to overcome design flaws in earlier models. I’m feeling pleased with what I’m seeing in this setup, but I know from past experience that by the end of this season I’ll have ideas for improvements. An expensive departure from previous designs is the addition of an auger-driven feed line. I haven’t used one before and so I’m not sure if it makes sense, but I felt like a limited trial in a brooder would be a good opportunity to dip a toe in the water.

Everything running and ready for chicks.

We’ve made some tremendous progress over the years in chicken comfort, energy efficiency, and feed efficiency. My goal for this year is to improve operational efficiency, allowing us to achieve more with less grunt work. I don’t want to spend less time with the chickens, but I want to spend less time carrying things and more time observing the birds.

3 Comments on “Brooder 2019

  1. Looks good. How many chicks do you run in there at once? And how much was the auto feed line and where did you get it?
    Thanks

    • We are planning on running batches of 500 chicks at a time. I think there is room for more, but 500 matches the size of our pasture shelters. Right now we have about 40% of the floor blocked off to keep the chicks bunched up during their first few days. After that we’ll open things up to give them more room as they start to grow and become stronger. Cost, it is hard to say because I had a lot of other stuff on the invoice, but I think the total is about $1500. I bought my equipment from FarmerBoyAg. HogSlat is another supplier. Right now I’m not terribly enthusiasic about the feeders. Feed is bridging in the hopper even with a cannonball agitator and it seems to be more hassle than it is worth. But I’ve only been using it for a few days so I might just need more time to iron out the kinks.

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