So with it being spring we decided to get started with raising some meat chickens. We thought we’d get a batch of cornish-cross chickens started and hopefully have them ready to go by the time that our markets all start up in June. Last year we didn’t really have any chickens for sale until July, and we wanted to have some ready earlier this year.
Unfortunately, we hadn’t fully thought through our little plan.
You see, it’s Minnesota, and even in the spring it’s not exactly balmy. Chicks need it to be balmy, like 90°F balmy. So when we setup the brooder that we’d used all last summer and fall, we quickly ran into problems getting everything up to a comfortable (read: survivable) temperature for the chicks.
Heat lamp bulbs were swapped to the more powerful variety, but to no avail, still too cold for chicks. The old hover brooder just wasn’t cutting it.
So I quickly slapped together a bigger badder hover brooder. With 1000 watts of electric heat at our disposal, the new brooder was sure to keep everybody toasty, right?
Wrong. Still too cold.
Add to that a wet floor from recent rains, and we had to take some drastic measures.
Chicks were all whisked away to the hayloft of the barn, where the chicken pens have been snoozing all winter. Brooders were shoehorned into chicken pens, along with every available heat lamp. Chicken pens were covered with tarps to keep in the precious heat. Still no dice.
We had run out of good ideas. We had reached the point where there was nothing left to do but overcome the weather with raw power. Our last-ditch effort was to throw a spare electric space heater into the chicken pen-nee-tent and set it to “incinerate.”
Luckily, it seems to have worked. Ambient temps in the chicken pen are now up to 80°F which means that the temps under the brooders are perfectly toasty for all the chicks.
And it only took 2875 watts of electricity to accomplish. Yikes.
Next year we may be back to starting chicks a month later, it may be the only affordable way to raise them in this climate.