Brooding Chicks in the Classroom
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After chicks hatch and have fluffed up, they can be moved to the brooder. This is typically 24 hours after the first chick hatches. A brooder is simply a confined space that provides heat, food, and water to chicks.
Chicks do not have feathers yet, they are covered in down, which means they can not regulate their own body temperature until they are older and their feathers have fully come in. For the first days that you will have them in your classroom, you really only need to know how to set up a brooder and heat plate for day-old chicks.
Setting up a Brooder in Your Classroom
Confined Space – Plastic Tub
The best-confined space for classroom use is a plastic tub, in which all of your brooding supplies will be stored in when you pick them up. The plastic tub contains the mess, allows you to see the chicks easily, and helps with storing brooder supplies at the extension office for next year. You will be provided with chick bedding to use in the bottom of the brooder. Spread a 1″ layer on the bottom and replenish as it gets dirty.
Heat Source – Brinsea Heat Plate
Heat Lamps, which shine red and can get very hot, also can cause an indoor fire. Heat Plates do not get over 125 degrees F and use radiant heat, meaning the chicks touch the heat plate to get warm; and this is not a fire risk. The Brinsea EcoGlow 600 Heat Plate online manual is useful to understand how these work and how to set them up. Keep the height at no more than 3″ during the first days.
Food + Water – Quart Jar Feeder/Waterer
Both jars will look the same, but the screw-on feeder attachment is larger and has several holes in the top for chicks to eat from. The Waterer attachment is smaller, so that chicks can not drown in the sitting water; and includes a leveled hole so that when tipped over water does not pour out. Clean tap water can be used. You will be provided enough medicated chick starter feed for the chicks. This feed has medicine that keeps chicks healthy from several diseases that can kill them in the first couple of weeks as well as provides high levels of protein for their exponential growth.
Here is a video from NC State Extension on setting up a brooder: