Hatching chicks on your own is a rewarding and educational experience for many people. There are so many benefits to raising chicks in your home in an incubator!
We have personally had chickens for over ten years in the various homes we have had.
Sometimes, we get surprise chicks in the early spring, where we will find chicken is missing for a few weeks and then she turns up with her babies running around the garden (that's what happens if you free range your chickens!)
Other times, we will let a broody hen hatch her own chicks, because then she will take care of them and raise them. And yes, those are the benefits of letting the mother chicken hatch chicks.
But the rest of the time, we like to hatch our own chicks in an incubator and then let them grow under the chicken brooder. There are a lot of benefits to raising your chicks this way, and today we are going to share why it is so beneficial to both you and the chicks, as well as share the best (and safest) chick brooder you can get for your new chicks.
The benefits of hatching chicks in your home
Here are the benefits of starting chicks in an incubator and raising them yourself.
Control of environment
One significant benefit of raising chicks in your house is control over the environment. With an incubator, you can carefully monitor temperature, humidity, and ventilation, ensuring that conditions are optimal for the developing embryos. This control can increase the chances of a successful hatch.
New chicken breeds/bloodlines
Hatching chicks also allows you to select specific breeds or strains that may not be readily available in your area. You also diminish the possibility of inbreeding if you are raising new chicks every year to keep your flock numbers up.
By ordering eggs or purchasing them from reputable breeders, you can access a wider variety of breeds, each with unique characteristics and traits.
Hatching chicks allows you to learn about the entire process of egg development; from incubation to brooding, and this is especially fascinating and educational to kids!
Whenever we hatch our own eggs, our kids get the chore of egg rotation which really gets them involved in the process and understand why and what needs to be done.
A Great Experience
Aside from the practical benefits, raising baby chicks is just a generally great experience. Watching the eggs hatch and seeing the tiny chicks emerge is both exciting and fulfilling. It’s also an excellent opportunity for children to learn about the lifecycle of chickens and gain a sense of responsibility by caring for the chicks as they grow.
Many people find that raising chicks creates a special bond between themselves and their birds, fostering a deeper appreciation for the role that chickens play in our lives.
Overall, raising chicks is a unique and rewarding experience that offers numerous benefits and opportunities for learning and growth.
Personally speaking, we love raising our chicks indoors because then we raise chickens who are not afraid of us. We can interact with them a bit more once they are full grown and in the yard, and that is always so nice.
What Exactly is a Chick Brooder?
Brooders are designed to provide a heated space for new chicks. We usually keep our chicks with the option to go under a brooder plate for around six to eight weeks, until their feathers have matured enough to keep them adequately warm and protect them.
Chick Brooder Basics
Whatever it is you want to do - whether buying or designing your own chicken brooder, the basics of chick brooders are that they are heat sources for chicks as chicks don't have any insulating feathers to keep their body temperature up where it needs to be to survive until these feather grow in.
You will just want to make sure you have a consistent brooder temperature that the chicks have the option of either going under or staying away from, and a brooder that is safe (and is not a fire hazard like a heat lamp).
A good thermometer can also be helpful as chicks need a consistent temperature of 32-35C (90-95F) and you can get one online or at your local feed store.
Now that we have talked a bit about why you may want to try raising chicks on your own and the basics of brooders, now it is time to get started! You just need to get yourself a really good incubator for your eggs, and then a safe and reliable brooder, which we are going to talk about below.
Let's get into the best chick brooders!
Brooder For Chicks
A brooder heater plate is the best choice for providing a consistent, warm heat to chicks as it mimics the warmth and comfort they would receive from a mother hen, so it feels natural to them and they can come out when they feel too warm. This allows the chicks to self regulate their own temperature in a safe place.
When choosing a brooder heater plate, here is what you should consider:
- Size: The heater plate should be the appropriate size for the number of chicks you plan to raise. Most heater plates come in sizes suitable for 10-15 chicks.
- Adjustability: Look for a heater plate with adjustable height settings. This will allow you to raise or lower the plate to maintain the proper heat level for the chicks.
- Safety: Make sure the heater plate is designed with safety in mind. Look for a plate with a low voltage power supply to reduce the risk of fire and a durable, non-flammable surface that is easy to clean.
- Temperature control: The heater plate should be able to maintain a consistent warm temperature of around 95-100°F for the first week of the chicks' lives, gradually decreasing to 85°F by the end of the third week.
- Durability: Choose a heater plate that is made from high-quality materials and is built to last. This will save you money in the long run by avoiding the need for frequent replacements.
Overall, a brooder heater plate can be an excellent option for providing warmth to chicks, especially if you are concerned about the potential risks associated with heat lamps.
With proper use and maintenance, a heater plate can provide a safe and comfortable environment for your chicks to grow and thrive.
What not a heat lamp?
When we first started raising chicks, we took them out of the incubator and had them in a box with a heat lamp. And we would never do that again.
Not only can they be unstable in the level of heat for your chicks, but they are also very dangerous and can cause a fire quite easily, especially in terms of the bedding materials you are using, or the cardboard of the cardboard box or the plastic of the container you are putting the heat source in.
You will be much safer with a heating brooder plate.
Here are our top choices:
1. The Chickcozy Brooder Plate
The Chickcozy brooder plate is actually designed to mimic the heat and comfort of a mother hen, providing a safe and natural environment for chicks to grow and thrive.
Not only can you adjust the angle but you can adjust the height so it can go higher up as chicks grow (and we know they grow very quickly!)
This is the brooder plate that we personally use and love, and find it to be both reliable, clean and efficient!
This would be a great choice for anyone looking to provide a safe, natural, and cost-effective source of heat for their baby chicks.
Here is some information about this brooder plate:
- Adjustable height (3 different levels) and adjustable angle
- Maintains a constant 95℉ environment
- Height is adjustable for maintaining proper temperature
- Uses only 25 watts of electricity
- Suitable for a variety of poultry breeds
- Portable and easy to move
- Reaches full temperature in 20 minutes
We most recently used this chick brooder for our chicks last week and we are very happy with it! We say that this would fit up to 10 chicks under it comfortably.
2. Brinsea Ecoglow
This model is the Ecoglow by Brinsea, and it comes in two model sizes.
The Ecoglow 20 Safety 600:
The Ecoglow 20 Safety 600, which is great for warming up to 20 baby chicks or ducks at once.
The Ecoglow Safety 1200:
If you need a brooder for 35 baby chicks and/or ducks, so model choices is totally dependent on your needs for brooder size.
Both models are 12 volt radiant heat models and are easily adjustable in terms of height settings for accommodating various chick sizes/breeds.
Here are some takeaway points from these brooder models:
- Uses a safe, 12-volt radiant heat source underneath to provide a consistent temperature for your babies and reduce energy usage
- The height of the brooder can be easily adjusted to accommodate chicks or ducklings of different sizes
- An indicator light lets you know when the brooder is properly connected and operating.
- It's made from durable plastic materials that are easy to clean. Plus, a clear plastic cover is included
- It is suitable for baby chicks and ducklings and works well in plastic or a cardboard box where you are keeping the chicks
- If you register your purchase, you'll get a 3-year warranty
Overall, this is a super reliable brooder that you will feel good about using.
3. K & H Thermo Brooder
This simple brooder comes in two sizes, a small which is great for up to 15 chicks, or a larger size. It also features a pegged style plate meaning you can adjust it height-wise as well as the angle where you would like that heat directed.
Here is what K&H has to say about their product:
This heated brooder for birds has been tested & certified by MET Labs and exceeds USA/CA electrical safety standards; K&H doesn't just use safety listed parts; we safety certify the entire product.
And they know what they are talking about; they have been in this business for over 20 years.
K&H was born in 1998 in Colorado Springs, CO. and they say that their mission was to create safe quality products that make pet's and pet parent's lives better.
Brooders: In Summary
There is a lot to know and remember when shopping for a style of brooder, and I hope this has been helpful for you today.
Just remember, a brooder with brooder plates rather than a heat lamp or other lamp style is much less risk of fire hazard. A chicken brooder with brooder plates will keep your chicks safe for their first few weeks when they need that warmth and comfort that normally a mother hen would provide.
As your chicks grow and develop feathers they will be better insulated and won't need that external heat source; however until then, they are just little fuzzy things that require external heat to keep them alive. Cold chicks simply won't make it.
Where to put your brooder
You can keep a chick brooder plate in a cardboard box without a lid or you can also use something like a dog crate to keep the chicks contained. Just line it with pine shavings which absorb moisture beautifully and you will be set. (Other options include large Rubbermaid containers or even a kiddie pool if you have the space for it).
Then you just need to add a really good chick starter feed to a feeder and a chick waterer with proper vitamins (the vitamins are only for day old chicks to maybe day 2 or 3) and that is all you need! And yes, you need a specific chick feeder and waterer that they can easily access and reach.
We'll leave some links below for you as well if you need chick feed, or any other supplies to have on hand for when your chicks arrive or for when you have newly hatched chicks! You can grab these supplies here and have them delivered right to your doorstep or you can find these in your local feed store.
We hope you found some really great information here on chick brooders! And yes, there is a lot of information, but don't let it overwhelm you!
Raising chicks is a really fun and rewarding experience that will make memories to last a lifetime. We highly recommend trying it out! And be sure to bookmark our chicken guide on our website to come back if you have any questions.
Here are some other chicken-related articles you may be interested in:
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