I think we have the perfect broiler chicken brooder for our situation. We have brooded them in big circular rings (they say it's better to have no corners, so they can't pile up and suffocate), on the floor of our squarish hoophouse, and even in cardboard boxes or wire rabbit cages, when some have needed separation.
Two years ago I was pregnant with Baby, and *really* didn't want to deal with critters anywhere near the floor. I begged Hubby to let me cover the Green Monster with a tarp, or a roof, or something shelter-ish. He did not seem willing. :) I came up with several other ideas, and he finally acquiesced (loudly and violently, if I recall) and fashioned this setup for me:
|April 2011 Broilers|
I really love this. It's a back-saver, and we've brooded up to 50 chicks at a time (I think it could handle more, but we can't. :) ). We have 35 in there now, and have switched to a larger feeder and waterer since they're 2 weeks old and considerably larger than they were in that photo! We use 125 watt bulbs instead of the 250. We don't do enough chicks at once to worry about a major heat source; with this setup everyone can cozy into the light and heat if they want to.
One downside to this setup is that at about 2 weeks of age, the chicks can and will hop up to higher vantages, and sometimes end up on the floor. It is helpful to have small, limber children upon whom you can call to rescue such vagabonds.
Extra shavings can be added as needed (you don't want to let a 'crust' of manure build up) and at the end of the season we take down the lights and quite literally roll the house away. We lift up one side and roll the hoophouse over on it's roof so we can dump the shavings into the garden. :) The kids think it's great fun.
This year we have one more week before our next batch of chicks arrives. I aim to have a nice floor pen ready for these by then, and I'm praying the weather will be appropriate to have them outdoors (it has not come even close so far, and the week's weather forecast is not encouraging). Based on reading I've done, I'm NOT going to clean and bleach this brooder, but rather put another layer of shavings in and put the new chicks on top of that. :) We'll see how it goes.