Our new brooder house, described in a previous post, is now close to completion. Its main architectural feature is a concrete floor and concrete pony wall to make it ratproof and rotproof. It’ll probably be standing 100 years from now with minimal maintenance. We put broad eaves front and back to keep the rain away from the building. We’ll add rigid foam insulation from a stash we discovered in the barn (thank you, previous owners!). In our climate, insulation is optional in a brooder house, but it’s nice to have.
A word about the siting of the brooder house: it’s facing north, with trees to the south of it. With a regular chicken house, in our cool climate, you’d want to spin the whole setup around 180 degrees — house facing south, with trees to the north — because it’s hardly ever too hot for chickens. But with a brooder house, you want to avoid wild temperature swings and exposure to storms. A northern exposure has steadier (though cooler) temperatures, and the storms in our neck of the woods come up mostly from the south, so the site is protected. The brooders themselves, heated by heat lamps, make up for any deficiencies the site provides in the way of temperature and light.
The roof is ordinary corrugated steel roofing over plywood. The roofing is thin and cheap but should last at least 30 years with no maintenance, and maybe twice that long.
The brooder house is big. We’d need a building permit, or at least an agricultural exemption, for anything bigger than 200 square feet. The house is 196 square feet. We can easily brood 200 pullet chicks for six weeks. This gives us a theoretical capacity of 1,600 chicks per year, far more than the 600 or so we actually plan on brooding. On the farm, over-capacity equates to freedom. It put you in charge of your schedule, rather than having it dictated by your equipment.
The door hasn’t been hung yet, but it’s a spiffy old beast with a lot of glass.
The three windows would not be enough on a henhouse, but will be fine for a brooder house, where the chicks need more shelter and less ventilation.
(If you haven’t already, you want to check out the sample chapters of Fresh-Air Poultry Houses, to get the pitch for highly ventilated chicken coops for all seasons. The book has interesting things to say about brooder houses as well. Though it’s from 1924, it’s the best poultry housing book on the market, because it’s the only one that gets the fundamentals right.)