(A Revision of Circulars 64 and 70)
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN
AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
AND UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
H. G. CLAYTON, DIRECTOR
A SIMPLE FARM BROODER
By N. R. MEHRHOF and F. S. PERRY 1
Poultryman and Assistant Poultryman
Florida Agricultural Extension Service
Designed primarily for Florida general farms or backyard
flocks where poultry is a sideline, the brooder and finisher to be
described here may be used to advantage where broilers and
fryers are raised on a small scale for home use or for market.
This equipment may be used by junior poultrymen (4-H and
FFA) for their broilers or the brooder may be used to start
pullets for their laying enterprise.
One farm brooder accommodating from 50 to 75 chicks through
five or six weeks of age and two finishers accommodating 35
broilers each until they are 10 or 12 weeks of age form a com-
plete broiler unit. By continuous operation this equipment is
sufficient to produce 50 to 75 broilers every six weeks.
The unit is practical and easily constructed.
Five or six brooders and 10 or 12 finishers of this type will
be needed on a broiler plant when 50 or 75 chicks are to be
started each week. When the chicks are five or six weeks old
they should be moved to the finishers and kept there until mar-
keted at 10 to 12 weeks.
A brooder and finisher of this type will enable the producer
to start broilers or pullets at any season of the year without
having to wait for a hen to go broody before he starts his chicks.
One brood started with 50 to 75 chicks should give 20 to 25
The authors are indebted to O. K. More, formerly Assistant Professor
of Poultry Husbandry, for his suggestions contained in the preceding
circulars and for making the photographs, and also to A. W. O'Steen,
Supervisor of the Florida National Egg-Laying Test. '
Fig. 1.-A complete farm brooder 3' x 10', including brooding and
sunporch units. Note lamp, feeder and waterers.
good pullets. If pullets are to be raised to maturity they should
be placed on clean range provided with suitable housing and
equipment at about five or six weeks of age. (See Extension
Bulletin 126.) The chicks should be started early in the spring
so the pullets will come into production in the early fall when
egg prices are increasing.
THE FARM BROODER
The brooder described in this circular is divided into two sec-
tions: BROODING unit and SUNPORCH unit. The brooding
unit provides the heat for the chicks, while the sunporch unit
allows the chicks to get out in the sunshine.
The brooding unit is divided into four separate sections desig-
nated as: (1) Bottom section; (2) floor section; (3) hover sec-
tion and (4) roof section.
Bottom Section.-The bottom section is 4' long, 3' wide and
16" high. A door on one side 8" x 10" in dimension is made to
provide for the insertion of a lamp. Six 1/" holes are evenly
spaced on the two sides, 2 inches from the top, to provide oxygen
for the lamp and to allow fumes to escape.
Fig. 2.-Brooder unit, including bottom, floor, hover and top sections.
Fig. 3.-Bottom section of brooder unit, 3' x 4' x 16".
Bill of material, Bottom Section-
2 pieces 1" x 4" x 34" (end)
2 pieces 1" x 12" x 341/2" (end)
2 pieces 1" x 4" x 48" (side)
2 pieces 1" x 12" x 48" (side)
2 small hinges
Floor Section.-The floor is made of galvanized metal attached
to a frame made of 1" x 4" boards. Shingle nails are used to
fasten the metal sheet to the wooden frame. The metal surface
of this floor is placed above the source of heat on top of the
bottom section to reduce the fire hazard.
Fig. 4.-Floor section of brooder unit, a 3' x 4' wooden frame
covered with sheet metal.
Bill of material, Floor Section-
2 pieces 1" x 4" x 48" (side)
3 pieces 1" x 4" x 28%" (end and center brace)
1 piece 26 gauge galvanized metal 3' x 4'
Hover Section.-The hover is 3' x 4', 8" high at the back and
12" high at the front.
One window 8" x 10" may be inserted on one side near the
front to permit light to enter the hover, so the chicks can see
to eat and drink for the first few. days.
The front has a 1" x 4" strip across the top and to this is
attached a cloth curtain 8" wide to keep out the cold air.
Bill of material, Hover Section-
1 piece 1" x 8" x 341/2" (back)
1 piece 1" x 4" x 341/" (front)
2 pieces 1" x 12" x 48" (side)
1 pane of glass 8" x 10"
1 curtain 8" x 10"
Fig. 5.-Hover section of brooder unit, 3' x 4', 12" high in front, 8" high
in rear, window 8" x 10".
Roof Section.-The roof is 5' long and 3' 4" wide. The roof
is made of wood and covered with metal. If metal is not avail-
able, heavy roofing paper may be used.
Bill of material, Roof Section-
1 piece 26 gauge galvanized metal 40" x 60"
5 pieces 1" x 8" x 60"
3 pieces 1" x 4" x 34%" (cross braces)
A low type brooder, bracket or wall lamp may be used to supply
heat. The top of the chimney should be about 1 inch below the
bottom of the floor section. The lamp should be located half
way between the side and about 14" from the rear wall. The
wick should be cleaned once a day.
Two very satisfactory variations which may be used are to
supply heat with an electric heating unit or electric light bulbs
which may be purchased economically and placed in the hover
If heat is provided by electricity don't place the unit under
the floor section.
The four separate sections of the brooding unit are fitted to-
gether easily. This facilitates cleaning and allows one person
to move the brooder to a new location.
The sunporch unit, which is 3' x 6', is divided into two sec-
tions designated as: (1) Bottom frame section and (2) sunporch
W mi WN. t
Fig. 6.-Sunporch unit, 3' x 6' x 28", including bottom and
Bottom Frame Section.-The bottom frame, 6' long, 3' wide
and 16" high, is constructed of wood to correspond with the
bottom section of the brooding unit. The top of this frame is
covered with 1/2" hardware cloth. This forms the wire bottom
of the sunporch. The hardware cloth allows the droppings to
fall to the ground and makes the sunporch more sanitary.
Bill of material, Bottom Frame Section-
2 pieces 1" x 12" x 72" (side)
2 pieces 1" x 4" x 72" (side)
4 pieces 1" x 4" x 341/" (ends and braces)
2 pieces 1" x 12" x 34/" (end)
1 piece %" hardware cloth 3' x 6'
Sunporch Section.-The sunporch is 6' long, 3' wide and 12"
high. The framing is made of 1" x 4" material and the sides,
Fig. 7.-Bottom frame section of sunporch unit, 3' x 6' x 16",
top covered with " hardware cloth.
Fig. 8.-Sunporch section, 3' x 6' x 12", with a door in the top.
top and one end are covered with poultry netting. A door is
placed in the center of the top part of the sunporch so that feed
and water may be placed on the wire floor. The door makes it
possible to catch the chickens with ease.
Bill of material, Sunporch Section-
4 pieces 1" x 4" x 6' (side)
3 pieces 1" x 4" x 341/2" (end)
2 pieces 1" x 2" x 34" (brace)
3 pieces 1" x 2" x 221/2" (door frame and brace)
2 pieces 1" x 2" x 131/2" (door frame)
1 piece 1" x 2" x 22/2" (door stop)
4 pieces 1" x 4" x 12" (corner posts)
4 pieces 1" x 4" x 4" (side braces at corner)
1 piece 1" mesh poultry netting 2' x 15'
1 piece 1" mesh poultry netting 12" x 36"
The sunporch unit may be constructed on legs rather than on
the bottom frame. If constructed in this way, it may be neces-
sary to enclose the sides of the sunporch with feed bags or other
material from the wire floor to the ground to help keep the chicks
more comfortable. This is especially true when the brooder is
to be used during the winter or early spring.
OPERATING THE BROODER
Dry sand should be placed on the floor of the brooding unit
deep enough (1" to 11/2") to cover the wood frame. The lamp
should be in operation at least 24 hours before the chicks are
started to insure sufficient heat to keep the chicks comfortable.
If the sand is not thoroughly dry, several days will be required
for the heat from the lamp to dry it enough that the chicks may
be started safely. DON'T PUT CHICKS ON WET OR DAMP
The sand in the hover directly above the lamp may be too
hot for the chicks at times, but there is sufficient room else-
where for the chicks to find the correct temperature. The
temperature may be controlled by the size of the flame in the
lamp and by adjusting the curtain in the front part of the hover
or the roof.
The chicks should be confined to the hover for the first 24 to
48 hours to teach them to find the source of heat.
Feed and water vessels should be placed inside the hover at
first. As soon as the chicks are allowed the use of the sunporch
the feed and water vessels should be removed from the hover
and placed on the wire floor in the sunporch.
As soon as the weather will permit the chicks should be out
in the sunshine. After they are three or four days old they
should not be confined to the hover but should have the use of
both the hover and the sunporch until they are placed in the
finishing pens or given free range.
Heat should be available for the first four or five weeks so
the chicks can be kept comfortable. The chicks will not get too
hot unless they are confined in the hover.
CLEANING THE HOVER
It will be necessary to clean the floor of the brooding unit
from time to time. To clean, remove the roof and then with
a small broom or rake remove the droppings with some of the
sand. Add more dry sand to cover the wooden frame. DON'T
ADD WET SAND.
FEEDING THE CHICKS
A complete, well-balanced ration should be fed these chicks,
since they are raised in confinement.
After the chicks are five or six weeks of age and are removed
from the brooder to the range the ration may be changed to
home-grown grain, green feed and sour milk. A ration of this
type will produce good gains if the chicks have access to range.
Birds kept in the finishers should receive a well-balanced
broiler feed. This may be either all-mash or mash and grain.
Provide sufficient feeding space so that all chicks can eat at
the same time. Allow about 1 inch of feeding space per chick
for the first two weeks. Add more as the chicks become older.
Two /2-gallon fruit jar water containers should be provided
for the young chicks. In two or three weeks the 1-gallon water-
ers will be more practical, with one in either end of the sun-
Baby chicks will consume about 1 pound of feed during the
first four weeks; about 3 pounds during the second four weeks;
and about 5 pounds during the third four-week period.
A broiler will consume about 9 to 10 pounds of feed during
the first 12 weeks.
It is desirable to have two or three wide boards or a piece of
metal to place on top of the sunporch to protect the feed and
chicks on rainy days. During the summer months place the
brooder where there will be some protection from the sun during
the hottest part of the day.
FINISHER OR FINISHING PEN
After the chicks are five or six weeks old they should be either
moved to the range or confined to a finishing pen.
Two finishing pens 3' x 10' will be needed to grow out the 50
to 75 chicks started in the brooder. One finisher 10' long, 3'
wide and 15" high is satisfactory for 30 to 35 broilers. The
framework of this pen is made of 1" x 4" (or 1" x 6") material
and the floor is covered with 1" hardware cloth or 1" heavy
poultry netting. The top, sides and ends (Fig. 9) are covered
with wooden slats 11/2" apart. The framework also may be
covered with 2" poultry netting.
Fig. 9.-Complete finisher, 3' x 10'. Note feeder, waterer, cover, and
2 vertical panels which facilitate catching chickens. These are constructed
to slide up and down between the slats.
A door 18" wide, either hinged or sliding, is placed near the
center of the top. If the framework is covered with 2" poultry
netting it is suggested that two doors evenly spaced be used to
facilitate catching the birds when ready for market.
A temporary cover may be made of wide boards or a piece of
sheet metal, to protect the birds from the heat and from getting
wet during the rainy season.
Feeders and waterers are fastened to the outside. Use two
6-foot feeders on the sides and two 3-foot waterers on the ends.
The finisher described is built with legs. Instead of legs, the
finisher may be placed on blocks about 4 to 6 inches off the
The finisher should be placed in a semi-shaded area for pro-
tection from the sun in the summer months.
Bill of material, 1 Finisher-
4 pieces 1" x 4" x 10' (sides)
8 pieces 1" x 4" x 34%" (ends and brace)
6 pieces 1" x 4" x 3' (corner posts and braces)
5 pieces 1" x 2" x 18" (doors)
1 piece 1" harware cloth or 1" mesh heavy
poultry netting 3' x 10'
40 pieces laths 3' (top)
76 pieces laths 18" (sides)
20 pieces laths 18" (ends)
2 pieces 1" x 6" x 6' (bottoms)
4 pieces 1" x 4" x 6' (sides)
4 pieces 1" x 4" x 9" (ends)
2 pieces 1" x 8 x 61/2' (tops)
28 pieces laths 20" long
8 pieces laths 34" long
For more detailed information on brooding write for Extension
Bulletin 126, Poultry Houses and Equipment; Bulletin 128,
Raising Chicks, Broilers and Pullets; and Circular 50, Portable
All-Purpose Poultry House.