Chicks in the house for the first bit? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 04-23-2010, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
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I've read in a lot of places that many people bring their day old chicks into the house and set up a spot in the basement for them with a heat lamp in a kiddy pool or bin. So, since we didn't get to the brooder on time we figured we'd just keep them close so we could interact with them more in the early weeks (cause they're so cute!) and not have to go out to the barn several times a day to check on them. So I set up an old sandbox in the basement, suspended a heat lamp from a bungee cord, spread some pine shavings and put my little flock down there. It was cool the first day or 2. But then it started to stink! And I was changing their litter every day, washing out food and water bowls daily. The stink would lessen a bit after cleanup, but by day 4-5+ the smell was so awful I couldn't stand it! I could start to smell it from the kitchen and it was making me want to hurl! I had to wear a mask just to go in the basement, the smell was atrocious!

How do people keep chicks in the their basement for longer than a couple days? Do they have smaller flocks? We had 20 chicks, 3 turkeys, and 2 Pekin ducklings. Perhaps with just a few chicks it would smell a lot less... My hubby made quick work powerwashing the brooder that had been in our barn when we moved here 2 yrs ago and hadn't been used in years. We sterilized it, were delighted to find the electrical heating system still works, installed the red light bulbs and waited for the thing to pre heat- which couldn't happen fast enough!! PHEW!! I and they are both very happy they are in their new home in the brooder- lots more space and the humans don't bug them as much. The smell wasn't ammonia, it was everything mixed together and it was so thick! * Blech, shudder!* As soon as I got them out, removed every bit of chicken paraphernalia from the house the smell was gone, then I washed the room with Lysol (which is reserved for extreme cases of ick factor, normally I stick to organic or homemade stuff). Ahhhh. Relief! They've been in the brooder for a few days and doing lovely, the smell isn't building up at all like it did in the house, thankfully!

So, if you brought your chicks in the house in the beginning, did you have stink issues? How soon did you get them out? And if you are planning on getting chicks and are a chick virgin (as I was!) and you're thinking you'll keep them in the basement for a few weeks- you might want to have a plan B ready in case you find the smell unbearable!!

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Alex 8 Gabby 6 (Homeborn!) Gideon 2.... chickens, ducks, cats and a dog
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#2 of 11 Old 04-23-2010, 03:56 PM
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I find it depends completely on what chicks you have.
The ducks would definitely make the smell worse.

With our meat chicks, they are a lot wetter and I have to change their litter very frequently, plus rake it up duing the day because they are lazier and don't scratch around like other chicks.
With the heritage chicks I got this spring, I kept them in smaller numbers (10 in each very large bin) and only had to change their litter every 5-6 days - they moved out when they were 4 weeks old. The meat birds move out around 3 weeks of age.

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#3 of 11 Old 04-23-2010, 04:15 PM
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I've been raising chicks in small batches. I change the litter weekly. Not much smell. And I can keep an eye on them better in house and control the temperature better.
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#4 of 11 Old 04-23-2010, 06:15 PM
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We had 50 of 'em in our living room for about 3 wks, and then 25 for another week and a half (neighbor took theirs after 3 wks) before they went out to their own coop. I used paper towels for the first 2 wks because they are way easier to change out than the shavings we use for litter. Just roll out new layers several times during the day (over litter), and then roll the whole mess up at night and replace w/new. Repeat the next day. Then we changed the litter every 4 days or so. A bit on the smelly side, but really not that bad. And since it was short term we dealt.

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#5 of 11 Old 04-23-2010, 07:43 PM
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We do chicks in the house and I think your stink would be more from the turkeys and ducks.We had geese,ducks,and turkeys in addition to our chicks one year and they were horrid! We had 60 chicks in the house last year with minimal smell, and have 6 in the house right now with no smell. We change bedding every 2 to 3 days and vacuum the dust every day. Glad you were able to get them out and reclaim your space.

Wendy,loving wife to Brian, happy mama of Trinity(15), Christian(15), Gavin(13), Logan(11), Griffon(9),Jubilee(7), Epiphany (4), and Lucian Danger( born 18 April 12) <3
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#6 of 11 Old 04-23-2010, 10:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Hmmm...wonder if it could have been the turkeys and ducks then... I was beginning to wonder if perhaps all the other chicken mamas with flocks in their basement had lost their sense of smell! Man are those ducks messy!! My chicks are dual purpose- RIRx and Plymouth barred rocks.

Jewels & Jon (Married 11+ yrs)- Homeschooling, No Circ, BF, CD Mama to:
Alex 8 Gabby 6 (Homeborn!) Gideon 2.... chickens, ducks, cats and a dog
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#7 of 11 Old 04-24-2010, 02:01 AM
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Yeah, I'd blame the ducks, too. My chicks really don't stink much (not really anymore than pet birds) and I've got 21 of them (12 of them are much, much too old to be in the house, but we're building the coop as fast as we can!). We had 6 ducklings in the house, and they are the nastiest creatures ever. Just their poo stinks something awful - plus how much the play in the water. Ick. Theirs was the first pen/house we built. The relief I felt when they were finally outside was huge. I'll be very happy to get these messy chicks outside soon, too, but they definitely don't bother me nearly as much as the ducks. Ducks are super cute, but dang they are messy critters!!
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#8 of 11 Old 04-24-2010, 11:44 PM
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I had a similar experience with my first batch of chicks. I had 25 chicks, and after 2 weeks the smell was unbearable, even with close attention.

Since then, I brood chicks in the garage.

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#9 of 11 Old 04-25-2010, 09:17 AM
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I had 6 chicks in a playpen in the laundry room for 2-3 months. It was not a hassle in any way.Now if I had 40 chicks I think I would make a set up in the garage!
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#10 of 11 Old 04-25-2010, 09:31 PM
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We had 25 chicks this year in our basement for about a month. We've had ducklings before too. We don't really have a huge problem w/ the smell until the end of the month.

We keep them in an old stock tank (water tank). We don't clean ours out very often either. Maybe you needed deeper bedding? Does your basement door close?

I'm glad the brooder is working out!

Jessica: wife to my farmer and homeschooling mama to three girls and two boys

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#11 of 11 Old 04-27-2010, 11:35 PM
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We had 6 chicks in our house for (I can't remember for sure but I think it was) 3-4 weeks. It wasn't a big hassle. I'd do it again in a heartbeat if I could have more (we live in town).
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