Getting the Brooder Ready

The chicks are ordered and due to arrive sometime this week. Waiting for a chick delivery is worse than waiting for an appliance truck – for the latter you block out a half-day, but for chicks you block out the week and wait by the phone for the call from the post office to hurry down for the noisy box.

My nursery is ready. It’s taken awhile. The first step was to move the old hens out of the big barn and into the HenCam coop. Then the big barn got a thorough cleaning. Diseases lurk in dirt and the cracks in wood, but the worst culprit is dust. Chickens are dust generators, and cobwebs hold it all in place. I got out the shop vac and hoovered it up. In some places, like the beams above the windows, the dust was a quarter-inch thick. I got static shocks while vacuuming!

Meanwhile, my crack IT team (aka husband Steve) bought a new cam, installed it, fixed the web site so that it can be viewed, and did lots of stuff I don’t understand but is absolutely necessary to share the chicks with you.

I went to an appliance store and got the perfect box to build a brooder. A brooder is what the chicks will live in for the first few weeks. It has to be draft-free and hot – 95º F to start. Thanks to my crack construction crew willing to climb a ladder (aka husband Steve) the heat lamp is on an adjustable chain. Each week it will be raised and the temp in the brooder reduced.

Here is the brooder. You can see the camera mounted on the right:

For the first two days the chicks will be walking on that old towel. This gives them secure footing (newspaper is too slippery.) After the chicks learn to eat their chick ration, the towel will be removed and they’ll be on pine shavings. If the chicks were to start on the shavings they would eat them, and possibly get impacted. It’s best for them to get the knack of eating the right stuff, first!

Note that I’ve blocked off the corners. Chicks have been known to walk into corners and get stuck. They don’t know how to turn around. Never underestimate the trouble that a chick can get in.

The chicks will grow quickly, and as soon as the box becomes crowded, they’ll have the run of the barn. You can see there’s a lot of space.

But, even growing chicks need protection from drafts, so I have more cardboard to make a barrier to cold air that might blow in under doors. Also, as they grow they’ll want to get higher and roost. I have a branch just the right size to make a perch for little feet.

As soon as the chicks arrive we’ll turn the ChickCam on. Keep an eye on the HenCam home page – there will be a new button to click on for that camera. I’m hoping my friends at the post office will call me tomorrow. They’re almost as excited as I am!


  1. I am so excited that we are going to get to watch the chicks! Hannah, my granddaughter got hers last week. Eight fluffballs. I gave her the Tillie book for Easter and she loved it! Can’t wait to heat the names for the chicks.

  2. OMG – soooo exciting.
    The brooder (and barn) look great!
    I can hardly wait to access the chick cam.
    Thank you (and Steve) for all you do and share with us!

  3. Well done Steve :-)

    Are you sure the chick cam isn’t just so you can keep a check on them if you aren’t at home?


  4. Wonderful! And thanks to Steve! I got home from being out of town, clicked on the hen cam and noticed a huge change! The refresh rate is really fast, it would take 15 minutes for the cam to load before and and I can see the animals moving! This is fun! Thanks so much.

    • That’s good to hear. I made flan and classic French macarons (with chocolate buttercream filling) yesterday, so he’s already been rewarded :) And there’s leftovers.

  5. I can hear your excitement. Our chicks are already almost 6 weeks old and living outside in their own coop with attached pen. The best thing is, I can see them out the window in front of my desk. You pay so much attention to details, it seems I just learn as I go. I guess having nicer weather out here, it’s easier to give them early outdoor exposure without freezing their little selves. Looking forward to the Cam. Sounds like you made a wonderful reward for your hubby.

  6. I am also excited to see the baby chicks! I do so enjoy this site.
    Didn’t realize there was so much to raising hens! Learning something new all the time.
    I also see another person here with my name of Celia. Don’t run into that name often.

    Celia Allen

  7. Looking forward to the all this great fun you have planned for us. Are you sure Steve’s middle name is not DeMille? They certainly will be ready for their closeups with his help.

  8. Wow! I just went into the cam’s and they load instantaneously. Candy overseeing her fiefdom and the boys soft brown spots. Thanks Steve. In the past the cams frequently caused my Safari browser to go non-responsive. This is great.

  9. WOO HOO!! I’ve been without the cam at home for months (had to sneak peeks at work :) )Thank you Steve and Terry!!

    My 8 chicks are 5 wks today, and the brood box is mighty crowded- so fortunately we FINALLY had a break in the rain and were able to get at least the new outdoor run finished. My DH is building me a new coop this spring and I am so excited! This will be the third coop in 20 years- chicken math and the learning curve have played in to each version!

    Can’t wait to share in your chicks this week!

  10. Hi Terry,
    I’m getting my new chicks tomorrow!!! Have you ever tried hanging a feather duster in your broody coop? I put one in mine last year and the babies loved it. They loved hiding in it and peeking out. I kept it on the outskirts of the lamp so it would be warmish but not get too hot.
    I’ll be checking on your chickies! And as always looking for useful info.

  11. I have been waiting for you to say when you were getting your chickies! And while i was waiting, i got mine! They should have a play-date when yours come! :)

  12. You are all getting me even more excited! I didn’t get an email from the hatchery yesterday saying that the chicks are on their way, so I think we’ll have to wait another day.

  13. Hi Terry! Is everything OK there? I saw Candy still in her hutch and I don’t see the birds? I am such a worry wort….I know what you mean about the peeps coming. I have actually had to leave work and take a day to go and pick the little girls up and then go home and get them settled. Try explaining that one to a “city girl” administrator!

    • They were out free-ranging and I was getting Blackie settled into her new home. Did you get chicks? I’m still waiting for mine!

  14. I am getting them Saturday! Even took a mental health day yesterday from work (tee hee) to get their home ready. It was a lovely day!

  15. Terry,
    Thanks for all your hard work on this awesome blog! I used it in my high school English class as an example for students.

    Also, we just got chicks two weeks ago. This is our first time with any farm animal. We are having serious trouble keeping the water clean. We have a 3gal holder just like yours. We are having to clean it out three plus times a day. Probably could do more if we didn’t work outside our home. Any suggestions? Thanks again! Heather