The chicken season officially began today with the arrival of 350 chicks from the good folks at NEPPA Hatchery. Most farms need to have chicks shipped to them, but we are fortunate to live one town away from a hatchery. Not only does this save us shipping costs, it also saves the chicks from the stress of being bumped and jostled and transported through all kinds of temperature transitions.
For the previous six years of brooding chickens, we’ve used all kinds of cobbled together brooders. This year as we transition to bigger groups of chickens we knew we needed to get our brooding act together.
Now we have a dedicated chicken brooder. It isn’t fancy, but it should be just what the chicks need: warm, dry, well-ventilated — yet not drafty, with room for a large heated hover, automatic nipple waterers, and plenty of feeder space. There is easy access for us and a secure perimeter to keep out predators. I built in a storage anteroom just big enough for a pallet of feed and extra bales of wood shavings. The total cost came in around $3200, $2800 of that for the container (yes, container prices are high right now).
I bought a twenty foot shipping container for this project. In retrospect I should have gone with the forty foot container because they are about the same price, but I wasn’t sure I could move the large container with the tractor. It turns out that the tractor can easily drag the container all over the place and the bucket can lift the ends without straining, so the larger one wouldn’t have been a problem. Duly noted for the next time I need a prefab box…