Many farmers keep various poultry on their farms. Chickens are rightfully recognized as the most common and popular species. These individuals demonstrate high productivity if they are provided with good conditions. The brood of layers is very vulnerable to temperature extremes, so a high-quality brooder is required for them. Today we will analyze in detail what it is and how you can make it yourself.
What is it and what is it for?
It is very important for any poultry to provide optimal living conditions. Only if this condition is observed can one expect good productivity from birds. Adequate environment must be provided for both adults and chicks. The latter are very vulnerable and therefore need special care.
Chicks do not tolerate temperature changes very well. The first weeks of life they should be in ideal conditions for them - warm. If you neglect this requirement, then the chicks can get sick and die. The brooder comes to the rescue.
A brooder is a special box, a box large in size, a certain area or a whole room. In these conditions, chickens are kept for the first 60 days of life. The specific name for this design comes from the English "brood", which means "to bear". This term speaks for itself - such a device is intended to act as a replacement for the mother of little chicks. Brooder is designed to give them vital warmth, without which the kids will simply die.
Newly born chicks are under severe stress. It is during this period that the risk of catching a serious illness by them increases significantly. Small birds try to adapt to life without a brood. That is why it is so important at this time to provide them with ideal conditions of detention.
Basic design requirements
A brooder is a vital construction for young chicks. It must meet a number of basic requirements, without which its use will be useless.
- The structure of the brooder must have a floor. It must be extremely dry. Its surface should not slip. If this requirement is neglected, then the chickens can get sick and die.
- If possible, a pallet should be constructed to accommodate waste. It must be placed over the entire structure. The brooder should be cleaned regularly, excrement and other debris should not be there. At the same time, it is often not desirable to disturb the young. This is especially true for individuals that are not yet 50 days old.
- The room must have high-quality and serviceable ventilation. But at the same time, there should be no drafts there. Keep in mind that newborn birds are incredibly sensitive to low temperatures, and this can end badly for them.
- It is important to maintain optimal moisture levels in the brooder - this is another requirement for these structures. This parameter should not be allowed to go out of range.
- The appliance responsible for heating the brooder must be operated in such a way that the animals do not overheat. The heat source should be equipped so that chicks cannot reach it. In the first days of life, the optimum temperature for chicks will be about 35 degrees. After a certain time period, it will need to be reduced to 30 degrees.
- The dimensions of the brooder must be properly adjusted. Here each poultry farmer calculates himself what parameters will be optimal. Much depends on the materials used to make the brooder. The average dimensions of this structure are 1.5 by 1.5 m.
- The permitted density of chicks per square meter should be no more than 25 birds. The standard design usually accommodates approximately 50-80 ephemeral birds.
A brooder must meet all of the listed requirements. Then it will be useful for young animals. If you plan to do this design with your own hands, then you definitely need to be responsible for each point.
Required materials and tools
It is quite possible to build a brooder for chickens with your own hands. For such work, it is necessary to select only high quality and wear-resistant materials. In addition, they must be environmentally friendly, because they will surround vulnerable and fragile chicks. To make a brooder, the following materials are allowed.
- To build base and wall structures, OSB or plywood sheets are ideal options.
- To make a frame base, doors and other similar elements, it is recommended to use wooden blocks and slats.
- It is necessary to take care of high-quality and reliable protection from other animals. For the construction of a protective structure, it is best to use a galvanized mesh with cells measuring 10 by 10 mm. Many poultry farmers prefer to use polycarbonate instead of mesh.
- To protect young animals from precipitation that can undermine their health, it is worth using a slate sheet.
- You will need hinges for the doors.
- It is very important to build a secure base for the waste from these poultry. To do this, you need to buy a pallet, sheet metal, oilcloth or plastic panel. Mesh is used a little less often.
- The mesh should be selected based on the immediate age of the chicks. The smaller they are, the smaller the mesh sizes will suit them.
- You will definitely need to prepare nails and screws.
- Prepare a 25 to 60 watt incandescent lamp, a good quality light reflector, lamp cable and plug.
- A brooder needs a thermometer, a quality heater, and a thermostat. The latter will be needed to adjust the heating, as well as automatically turn off and on the incandescent lamp.
In order to build and equip a reliable and high-quality brooder on your own, you will have to prepare a number of necessary tools, without which such work will be greatly complicated. These include:
- drill or high-quality screwdriver;
- hacksaw and screwdriver;
- tape measure and special scissors for metal cutting;
Having all the listed materials and tools, you can make a good brooder with your own hands. It is advisable to rely on detailed step-by-step instructions during its manufacture, so as not to face serious errors.
How to make it yourself?
As mentioned earlier, it is quite possible to make a brooder with your own hands. The main thing is to stock up on all the necessary materials, tools, make the necessary drawings and stock up on detailed manufacturing instructions.
First you need to decide on the design of the planned brooder. Standard chick models should have the following basic characteristics.
- As a rule, they have small dimensions - 1x0.6x0.6 m.
- For their manufacture, you must use quality materials. Chipboard or plywood is ideal. Such designs will provide chicks with warmth and good protection from destructive drafts and excess moisture. Since chick droppings are usually runny and often splash all the water, the brooder should be reasonably water resistant.
- The tray in the chicken brooder must be removable. When the sand under the chicks' feet becomes very dirty from their droppings, the pallet can be removed without any problems and the sand can be replaced.
- The chick drinker and feeder should be as stable as possible. If you follow this rule, then the chicks will not be able to turn them over, they will not crawl there with their paws and will not contaminate everything with the remains of droppings or sand.
Considering all the features of the future design of a homemade brooder, you can proceed directly to its manufacture. Let's consider in stages how you can independently build a simple version of this design for chickens.
- First of all, you need to prepare a rough drawing and a diagram of the planned future structure. These will depend on the number of chicks you want to keep there. Of course, the more chicks there are, the more spacious the brooder should be. Models for 50 or 30 individuals will be small if there are 100 chicks.
- Mark the plywood. Carefully cut out the side and back walls.
- Prepare wood blocks. Cut 6 slats out of them for wall structures. These parts must have one length parameter. It is necessary to attach the strips, making indents from the edges by literally a few centimeters.
- Similar manipulations must be carried out in relation to the lower part. In this case, it will be necessary to observe absolutely all the required dimensions. Otherwise, the bottom and waste tray cannot be removed easily.
- Next, you need to drill a hole for the wiring. Through it you will need to carefully pull the necessary wires. Then the cartridge, the lighting device and the heating element themselves are fixed.
- Further, all walls of the brooder will need to be insulated by installing foam plastic on them. In order to prevent drafts from entering the brooder and keep warm in the inside, these components will be simply necessary.
- Now all the necessary parties need to be brought together. If you have done everything right before, then the grooves in the bottom wall will ideally match the side grooves.
- Prepare the front wall by cutting it out of a sheet of plywood. Attach the hinges securely on the side. They will be needed for door installation.
- Punch holes in the sheet or make a window of sturdy mesh. The poultry farmer will need such components so that everything that happens in the brooder can be controlled. Thus, it is possible to see how the chicks are doing there.
- Now you should cut a piece of metal or plywood to equip a strong and reliable brooder roof.
- Build a pallet from a material that will not get wet and deformed under the influence of liquid and will not rot. This part of the brooder must be properly secured using wooden blocks.
- Remember to install stable feed and water containers in the brooder.
- Feathered "youths" can be admitted only after you have thoroughly warmed up the structure.
A brooder can be built with your own hands and for broilers. In this case, it is necessary to observe some important subtleties.
- The floor in such a brooder must be made non-slip. Otherwise, the paws of the broilers will move apart.
- Here you can use simple trays left over from eggs as dishes. Due to this design of the feeders, each bird will be able to get to food without any problems.
- Drinking bowls and feeders should be such that birds cannot get hurt by them. In addition, these parts must be stable so that broilers do not turn them over in moments of excessive activity (these individuals like to "walk" from time to time around the edges of the feeders and drinkers).
- To make the service life of the structure more impressive, it is advisable to paint it with high-quality paint.
- It is advisable to pre-disinfect and wash the finished brooder for broilers with soapy water.
As you can see, there is nothing difficult in making a brooder. With this functional design, raising healthy chicks is much easier.
Many poultry farmers construct these "boxes" to keep the young up to a certain age. Reviews of these models are overwhelmingly positive.
It is not enough to build a good and strong brooder. It is necessary to provide excellent heating in it, because this is the main component necessary for small chicks. Of course, when choosing a specific heating system, most poultry breeders start from their own preferences and financial capabilities. It is possible to maintain the required temperature using ordinary incandescent lamps of the appropriate power. But such a method cannot be called economical, and it does not differ in particular safety, because a simple incandescent lamp can be very easily broken by accident.
Today, slightly different systems are most often used to heat a brooder:
- red light bulbs with mirrored reflector;
- ceramic infrared lamps;
- artificial "mother hens".
Each of the listed devices has its own pros and cons.
Red heating lamp
This is a common method of heating a brooder. Such a lamp emits energy in the red and infrared range. It is designed to emit warm and fairly soft lighting. It is not worth calling such a device universal, although often experts say that red lamps do not interfere with the chicks at all to sleep and rest normally.
When the temperature rises, the red lamps should be turned off. This can be done both independently and with the help of special regulators. This means that in order to maintain the optimal lighting mode, a pair with the specified lamp will need to use another lighting device.
The main advantages of these devices are as follows:
- they have a good resource - about 5000 hours - this is an excellent indicator;
- are inexpensive.
Only those red lamps that have cylinders made of special tempered glass are safe to use.
Infrared Ceramic Heater
This is another version of the lamp for keeping day-old chicks. Increasingly, poultry farmers use an infrared ceramic heater, which makes it easy to maintain the required temperature. This option has a lot in common with a conventional lamp. If we compare it with a classic red light bulb, then it has the following advantages:
- can last much longer - continuous operation of such a heater can be from 10,000 to 30,000 hours;
- differs in high efficiency rates - up to 98%;
- characterized by high impact resistance;
- are waterproof;
- "Are not afraid" of vibrations.
The power limits of such heaters are very wide - from 25 to 200 watts. Finding the perfect ceramic heaters is easy for brooders of all sizes. If you wish, you can put several of these heat emitters at once in one structure. Many poultry farmers use this method.
This addition to the main heating system will come in handy. It is a low power heating plate. She stands on 4 small supports. Such a device almost does not raise the temperature of the surrounding space, but if you lean against its warm surface, the chicks can warm up in the same way as in natural conditions - with a laying hen.
As the chicks grow, the gap between the floor of the brooder and the surface of the brooder is gradually made larger. Due to this, it will be very convenient to operate it during the entire time of rearing chicks in a brooder.
The dimensions of this apparatus are selected depending on how many chicks are in the brooder. Classic products are designed for no more than 20 animals. There are specimens for 50 chicks - their power is higher and they are more expensive.
If you decide to put this device in a brooder, you need to observe one important condition - the floor area of the brooder must be at least 2 times larger than the heater itself. Only in this case, the chickens will be able to warm themselves normally under the artificial "chicken mother".
These devices can work 24 hours 7 days a week. Since the power consumption of these devices is very low, this does not provoke large expenditures on electrical energy.
There are other types of heating the brooder for chicks:
- ordinary incandescent lamps;
- special infrared films;
- thermal emitters made of plastic;
- lamps designed for heating terrariums;
- Heating elements of different power levels and structures.
The chick structure must be properly equipped. The conditions for keeping chicks should be as comfortable as possible so that the brood grows healthy. Let's take a closer look at what is needed for the internal arrangement of these structures.
- Drinking bowls and feeders. You can build them yourself, or you can buy them ready-made in a store or on the market.
- It is necessary to fix the thermometer in the brooder to keep the temperature under control.
- Mesh doors are most often used as ventilation for these structures, but if you made them solid, then it is recommended to equip small windows. They will help bring in fresh air. In addition, through them, you can follow the chicks.
- It is allowed to install not too large perches. Even very small chicks will sleep much better if their legs grip the perch. If the posture is correct, there will be no curvature of the keel of birds in a dream.
- Of course, quality heaters should be installed in the brooder. They will provide the ideal microclimate for juveniles.
- You can't do without good lighting in a brooder. The duration of daylight hours at first should be at least 17-19 hours. As individuals grow older, it should be gradually reduced to 14 hours.
It is recommended to make holes in the brooder ceiling with a diameter of 30-50 mm for ventilation. By installing the plate, the ventilation level can be adjusted.
Brooder should be done with light inner walls. In this case, it will be much easier to see if there is contamination in the structure, and quickly get rid of them.
If you want to breed chickens, then you should purchase a special hatcher. This equipment is needed for culling and laying eggs in trays, tracking the period of embryos and the appearance of chicks.
Before making a brooder, you should prepare all the necessary drawings, diagrams and tables with the specified dimensional parameters. Only relying on such sketches can you make a good design of suitable dimensions, so this stage should not be neglected.
For more on how to make a do-it-yourself burder for chickens, see the video below.