It seems that even chicken stuff can build up and start to clutter your life. I find that I like to save little pieces of wire, newspaper, plastic and metal containers and anything else that might ever come in handy with the chickens. I also have held onto the chick feeders, chick waterers and the heat lamp. You never know when you might have a sick bird or when you are going to order more chicks! It was time to get organized.
THE ART OF CHICKEN HOMEMAKING/ CREATING A BROODER
As the arrival of your chicks quickly approaches, you will need to create a brooder. This will be their home for about the next 6 weeks. For their first week of life, the chicks will need the brooder temperature to be about 95 degrees F. This is maintained by your heat lamp. As each week passes, the temperature is lowered by 5 degrees until you reach the outdoor equivalent or they are fully feathered. When we had our chicks delivered in June, temperatures were already in the 70s outside. At six weeks of age, they transitioned outside. Our mid-July temperatures were in the mid-eighties at that point. We only used the heat lamp with the 250 watt bulb for about 2 weeks. After that, I used a regular household light bulb of various wattages in the heat lamp. Some people create brooders in their bathtubs, living space, or sheds. Just remember that chickens are messy, sometimes stinky and produce dust in this stage. Thus, we set our brooder up in the garage.
So, how do I go about this, you ask? Well if you’re like me you read everything you can get your hands on, check the internet and dive head first into something figuring you’ll just troubleshoot along the way. However, there is some planning to optimize your chicken experiences that will make life easier. So, lets start at the beginning. How do I get the chickens?
Studies have shown chickens fed DE have an increase the amount of eggs, decreases the mortality rate, keeps mites away, helps to dry up droppings, helps with flies and decrease worm loads in the GI tract. It also found that hens fed DE in their diets laid eggs with more albumin and yolk . I also love that my hens are getting the valuable trace minerals. In the feed, it keeps insects from spoiling the feed too.
In the newly cleaned coop I sprinkle it into the corners, edges, in the nesting boxes and onto the floor prior to adding a fresh new layer of bedding. We never have had a pest problem inside the coop and we live in a very wooded area! This product as been a terrific addition to my backyard chicken experience. I love that something easy and natural is so beneficial.
As a word of precaution, DE should only be used in well ventilated areas and should be avoided getting it into your eyes, nose and throat. As you research DE, you will surely come across literature that discusses the health risks associated with accidental inhalation. The condition is called Silicosis. Silicosis is a medical condition of the lung that occurs with regular repeated inhalation over a period of many years. Silicosis can also be caused from the use of sand (silica dust) in the coop and run. So please take precautions when using sand or DE.
Update 6/11/2013: Please click here to read an article that I wrote for Community Chickens on DE- chock full of even more information, including precautions that you should take if using DE with your flock.
Poult Sci. 2011 Jul;90(7):1416-26. doi: 10.3382/ps.2010-01256.
Effect of diatomaceous earth on parasite load, egg production, and egg quality of free-range organic laying hens. Bennett DC1, Yee A, Rhee YJ, Cheng KM.
RESULTS OF THE USE OF CODEX FOOD-GRADE DIATOMACEOUS EARTH WITH POULTRY, C.S. Mangen, DVM, San Diego, California
This will be my first Winter with the girls. Cape Cod doesn’t get too cold, but it has really gotten me to thinking about the coop and run set up as well as freezing waterers and nasty weather ahead. As a hobbist chicken raiser, we are not doing this on a very large scale. Our maximum flock size will mostlikely be about 12 girls, 6 of those being bantams. It is difficult to even find small feeders and waterers that are not hobbist size for adult chickens and most smaller versions are for little chicks.
My coop is 3’x4′ and the run is 6’x9′. I am currently using the plastic Little Giant 3 pound feeder. I have placed it upon 2 bricks elevating it above the pine shavings in the coop. The waterer is outside in the run. That too is a Little Giant 2 gallon galvanized metal waterer.
That being said, I am now looking into making the winter easy for the girls and for me too. There are numerous options from heated pet bowls, plastic waterers with an area to plug and extension cord into, as well as a metal heater base for the waterers to sit upon. The reviews are mixed on all choices. Thus, here in lies the difficulties. I guess this conversation will have to be continued…