I came across ‘The Broody Box Company’ at the National Poultry Show in December 2008 and thought it was rather a good idea for rearing a small number of chicks. If hatching chicks using an incubator, the broody box can be used to replace the broody hen that would normally keep the chicks safe and warm. The box houses the chicks and has a small exercise run to allow them to leave the heated area from time to time as they would in nature which allows them to develop in a very natural way.
The heat is supplied by a standard 60 Watt filament bulb which is kept safely behind a wire guard. The temperature under the heat lamp is between 25 and 30 degrees C (80-90 degrees F) which is usually recommended for day old chicks straight from the incubator. This can be reduced as the birds become less dependent upon heat by adjusting the thermostat that is built in to the unit.
There is a door from the heated area that is usually left open to allow chicks access to the run. The height of this door can be adjusted by a thumb turn to cater for varying sized chicks as they grow.
The history of the Broody Box
Written by Dr. T. M. Walsh.
“Having kept chickens since I was a boy, about 30 years ago I found the need to successfully and easily bring on chicks after hatching a real concern. As we know necessity is the mother of invention, hence the first Broody Box in its embryonic stage. My friend Lynne Brown used the system to nurture poultry of all varieties including ducks, geese, turkeys, and quail. Her delight and enthusiasm in the success of the brooder spurred on the design, development and manufacture of the Broody Box in its present form. This is now available for poultry enthusiasts to enjoy.”
A user review of the Broody Box.
Mr. Chris Piercy has used the Broody Box and has written this review:
“I am a biologist with an interest in keeping a variety of birds. Having successfully used the broody box in rearing in excess of thirty chicks I am pleased to review its performance.
I am very delighted with the broody box. It is well made, durable, easy to clean and fit for purpose. I have used the box in rearing two batches of 15 chicks consisting of a mixture of hens and ducks. The success rate has been 100%, all the chicks developing well and, indeed, showing a faster rate than they would have by sitting under the mother bird. Presumably, this was due to the light bulb which encourages the chicks to eat frequently.
The broody box is thermostatically controlled -and the required temperature is easy to set with a dial. Once the temperature falls the bulb comes on -providing both heat and light. The ‘nest’ compartment base can be covered by newspaper so that cleaning is not a problem. The run allows the chicks to roam freely, further aiding development. Together the nest and the run provide a stress free environment for the chicks that can spend up to four weeks in the box before they might outgrow it.
The people behind the Broody Box business have many years experience in keeping fowl and in designing this box they show a deep understanding of the issues. I have always found them very helpful and friendly. In conclusion, I regard the broody box as an effective way of bringing on chick development and I recommend its use to others. Try it and see, I’m sure you will not be disappointed.”
Overall from what we have seen and heard of The Broody Box, it seems to be providing excellent results. It provides a secure environment to rear chicks in (great if you have a cat!) for the first month of their lives. The Broody Box is cheaper to operate due to the type of bulb (a 60 Watt filament bulb) rather than the more standard 150 Watt or 300 Watt heat lamp that is commonly used. These bulbs are of course far cheaper to replace periodically. The run is an excellent idea and provides a very natural transition for the chicks and most importantly allows them to get away from the heat if they are overheating. The thermostat is an added benefit so chicks can easily be weaned off heat as they grow. The Broody Box list price is £149.99 plus postage (usually about £15 for the UK) which, considering the design, materials and labour involved represents good value for money in my opinion.
Update April 2011
I am very sad to have received the following email:
I was looking at your site as I was looking into rearing chickens. I noticed you have a page dedicated to “The Broody Box” company. This company was run by my friend Dr TM Walsh, It is with great sadness that I have to inform you of the demise of my friend last August. Dr Walsh died while on a bike ride with me and some friends, he died of a severe heart attack.
I’m not sure if his friend Lynne Brown is carrying on the company as Mel made all of the boxes. The Broody Box website has also been withdrawn. Dr Walsh will be missed by us all.