This type of brooder is easy to manage, and it avoids some stupid pit falls. They are great for controlling climate, and the tank provides protection for the chicks. Caring for chicks is easy and keeping a tank clean and freshly bedded only takes a few minutes a day.
Managing the brooder for success is easiest with a stock tank purchased at your local farm supply store. Stock tanks are super durable. Unlike other brooding methods, if the floor gets wet your chicks are safe. Cats, dogs and wildlife have a very difficult time getting to your chicks. Put some chicken wire or hardware cloth on top and your heat lamps have another fail safe to prevent fires.
Climate control is easy. A red heat lamp on one-end gives enough heat for 50 chicks to stay warm and enough room to run around. Always double clamp heat lamps. They are prone to having someone or something knocking them over and starting a fire. Your family’s safety should always come first. Install them above your chicken wire, clamp them to the side of the stock tank and buy a C clamp to attach the lamp to another spot on the tank. When the temp dips below 40 you can easily use a piece of cardboard to regulate the heat in the brooder. Broilers are very hardy. At three weeks of age these chicks can withstand freezing, and should be removed from the brooder.
The day before the chicks arrive the brooder should be set up. Turn on your heat lamps. Make sure the water is room temperature. If you are not ready when the chicks arrive, let them sit in their box for the day. They will be just fine! Chicks can survive three days in the delivery box without feed or water.
A layer of medium to large wood shavings should be put down in the brooder. Then a couple of sheets of newspaper should be put on top of the shavings. The layer of newspaper helps manage the chicks so they drink water first, and then 4 to 12 hours later you can introduce feed and chick grit. The farmer also reduces the risk of the chicks eating wood shavings before they are introduced to feed. *Our trick to introduce food is to put colored marbles in the feeders so they will peck at them and find it.
Put a small piece of wood on the bottom for the gallon waterer, so it does not leak. Dampness kills chicks. The piece of wood makes it easy to level the water. Putting three, one-quart size feeders in the brooder is adequate for the first seven to fourteen days.
Cleaning the tank is super easy. You will need a garbage can and a large feed scoop. The chicks should not be removed. Do not let anyone hold your chicks as tempting as it is; they will die because they will be crushed by your hands, regardless of how gentle you are. Remove the water and feed. Clean the shavings and newspaper with the scoop and then return the piece of wood for the water. Next, add about 2 inches of shavings. Place the water on the level piece of wood. Put the feeders back and sprinkle chick grit on the shavings.
The stock tank is a clean, safe, temporary home for your baby chicks, but as a brooder it is just meant to get them big enough to be outside. They can be removed from here in as early as nine days. They should be removed by day 18. After 18 days it becomes very difficult to keep clean! At the end of brooding, the tank can be washed out with a garden hose and place upside down until next time. Good luck!