If you haven’t read our chick updates, I advise that you read Chick Recap: Take 1 before reading this post.
Even with our three step brooder system we found that the chicks weren’t going onto pasture quick enough for our liking. They were getting bigger and more active yet they were still in need of a heating source, more so at night than during the day.
We decided to abandon the wired tunnel and swap the brooders – the steel brooder would be for the older chicks and the fibreglass brooder would be for the younger chicks. We then moved the steel brooder outside into the fenced area where we had been moving the wired tunnel around. Kel cut a small flap out of the steel brooder and attached a ramp for the chicks to enter and exit. He ran a heavy duty extension cord to the steel brooder for the heat mats and Voila! Obviously the chicks had to get used to entering and exiting the brooder via the ramp – they quickly learnt how to exit but not so much enter, so at dusk we had to go out and round them up the ramp until they had the hang of it.
We were also finding that the newborns needed a few days by themselves before they were ready to join the fray. We obviously weren’t putting them with large chicks however chicks who are newborn compared to chicks who are a week old aren’t that much difference in size however the week old chicks are a lot more active and sure of themselves. Placing newborns with one and two week olds found them scared, sometimes trampled and quite overwhelmed. Giving them a few extra days to get used to the world in a safe environment made a huge difference and when placing them with the rest they quickly adapted and were able to join the group without too much fuss.
The newborn box consisted of a large plastic tub with a thick layer of wood shavings on the bottom and a heat mat buried in it, and a thick foam lid with a heat mat attached to the underside of it. Then there was a small gap at the front for air circulation and where the water and feed was placed and easily accessible for us to refill. Fancy, huh? In the long run, this was just a temporary solution – Kel was going to build a proper box for them.
We were much happier with this setup as it meant that the chicks were going out to pasture a lot quicker than before and they could satisfy their natural behaviours of scratching and pecking the ground.