So, how many chicks should go in a brooder? Let’s find out!
You have a new clutch of chicks, congratulations! Space is limited, so where will they all go? Logic (and loads of chicken-care sources) dictates a brooder, but you’re left with one massive question about it, one that I receive a whole lot:
“How many chicks should be in a brooder?”
In this article (and accompanying video), we talk about just this question – and you’ll get my (very) strong opinions about it!
As we discussed in another video, piling can be a big issue (piling is where baby chicks huddle together at night – and some chicks are crushed.)
The fewer chicks that are in a brooder, the less likely you are to encounter a situation where chicks are being suffocated or trampled.
So, how many chicks should be in a brooder?
I personally only put between 10 and 15 full sized chicks into a brooder.
For bantams, I might up that number up to 17 just to help them stay warm. But no more than that.
At farm stores, you sometimes see there might be 50 chicks in a big bin. Farm stores do that because the chicks aren’t going to be there for that long.
But I personally only put between 10 and 15 chickens in one brooder.
Why? Well, first because I don’t want any baby chickens to get crushed. Second, it’s really important to make sure that everybody has access to food and water. And when you have too many chicks in a brooder, you can’t guarantee that everybody’s getting the food that they need.
Well-being and Maintenance
It’s harder to keep track of everybody and everybody’s health condition when a lot of chicks are in one brooder. They’re all running everywhere, and you can’t look at everybody really closely.
When you have smaller number in your brooder, it’s easier to keep track of everybody’s condition. Is everybody getting the food that they need? Is everybody developing correctly? Is everybody warm enough? Does somebody look too cold?
If you use apple cider vinegar, which we talked about why in another video, it’s easier to make sure that everybody gets access to that. If you have one waterer and a large number of chicks in your brooder, maybe not everybody’s getting enough water or the apple cider vinegar in the water that they need.
One drawback to the smaller clutch size is that if you have a lot of chicks, you might need multiple brooders.
So that is my opinion about how many chicks should be in a brooder. You might see other opinions elsewhere that give you other ideas, but this is what I personally do and believe.
We have tested this over the years with different amounts of chicks in a brooder and the numbers mentioned here are what I have found to be ideal. This way, you can be sure that everybody stays warm, everybody gets food, everybody gets water, and everybody has space and room to move.
If you have too many chicks or chickens in one area, it can turn into a really stressful environment where the chicks feel overwhelmed and overstimulated and then they might shut down.
- I only put 10 – 12 regular size chicks or 15-17 bantams in a brooder at a time.
- If I have more, then I split the flock into two separate brooders
- Piling is when chicks huddle together and accidentally squish or suffocate a flock mate.
- It’s easily avoided by making sure chicks have enough room in their brooders.
- Another reason to keep a low head count in brooders is so you can make sure everyone is eating/drinking
How many chicks should be in a brooder? Just stick with 10-15 baby chicks.
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.