We have a recycled two draw brooder box that I made for our first hatch. After a few weeks it has become evident that it is great for little fluffy's...bit small for chicks with half their feathers.....who think they can fly already!
My first attempt was to expand our draw brooder, but with all recycled materials it was hard to make presentable, so I purchased new materials and began construction of this one.
Materials, place of purchase and cost. (AU dollars and metric speak).
Assorted screw and glue, already on hand.
Paints, water based, already on hand.
1x Plastic handle, Bunnings $2.69
2x Pine, 89mm x 19mm x 1.8m, Bunnings, $5.42ea
3x Pine, 42mm x 19mm x 1.8m, Bunnings, $2.99ea
1x MDF Panel, 6mm x 1200mm x 600mm, Bunnings, $6.23
1x MDF Panel, 9mm x 900mm x 600mm, Bunnings, $6.79
3x MDF Panel, 6mm x 900mm x 600mm, Bunnings, $4.63ea
2x 40mm x 12mm x 1.8m, Bunnings, $1.89ea
Wire netting, 900mm x 2000mm Bunnings, $7.50
Total new materials cost: $60.72
I selected those sized material for two reasons. Even though it was not as efficient as buying full sheets.
Firstly, I am limited to my tooling, buying material that required as little cutting was going to give me the best finish, secondly, transporting full sized sheets is tricky with family sedans!
Overall dimensions of the unit.
900mm wide, 600mm deep and 600mm high (box)
Total height with legs is 900mm.
Buying the pre-sized material made for very few cuts with my circular saw. I cut the two 89x19mm lengths in half, giving 4x 900mm lengths. These form the four legs.
The ends of the box were to be cut from one sheet. Cut the 1200mm x 600mm sheet in half, giving two 600mm squares. Actually, you need to cut them ever so less, 588x600 in this case. The reason being for the final overall dimensions. If you leave all the sheets the store size, you will find the corners don't cover properly. trimming 12mm off each side, allows for the addition side thickness (6mm each) This means, the pre-cut lids will close flush each around the top.
Screw two legs to each side so it look something like this.
I used a few screws from the inside to try reduce how many screws could be seen. The square edges provided by the sheet gave excellent lines to make it all square.
One the ends were fastened to the legs I clamped one end in place flush with the top edge, marked and screwed together. Repeat for each of the three remaining corners. I used two different lengths wood screws. 20mm for when I had to screw though the thin side, and 35mm for when I was screwing into the thick edge. If you are using longer screws the point will poke out, trim it back so there are no pointy bits inside for hands of chicks.
You will now have a hollow box with no top or bottom. It will not be very stable so take car while moving it about. To brace the lower section I cut two lengths to screw on the inside edge long ways. This does two jobs, adds strength, and gives the floor some support. I then added a smaller piece on the end and a third in the middle to support the floor panel when it is fitted.
Notice these section in this underside picture.
Once these were glued and screwed from I trimmed the floor width to a size of 900mm x 588mm (to make sure the lid fitted correctly) and lowered it into place. It is not secured with screws, glue or nails. A snug fit stops bedding leaking out, but allows it to be removed for a big clean out, or replacing if it is too far gone.
My 6 year old son then mentioned that it would be cool to have a secret door, so I had a spare hinge and an old bolt laying about. I just a section in the base against the edge. This lowers away from the base so the bedding, mess and fuss can spill out into a tub and not need to be scrapped up with a pan.
(When this is in place, a piece of newspaper over the hole stops the spills out the join.)
Hung up on the idea of a 2nd story 'fly zone' I used the same concept of using the 42mm x 19mm as a base to secure a floor to. By now I was running low on the nice stuff, so I cut an old pallet plank down, sanded smooth and used that with a MDF off cut (from a side actually so it was perfect!) as a lip. Another old pallet plank had some little off cut strip glued and nails to it to form the ladder. The ladder is not secured, just cut to a length where it can only be lifted out. When the birds are small, we will keep the grounded by removing the ladder.
Next was the heat lamp lip. Again, had a section of the 42mm x 19mm. Glued and screwed it to the center of one end. This gives a vertical plane to clamp the heat lamp too. Down low for hotter, higher for cooler without swapping bulbs! See the section in the pic below. We are using a reptile heat lamp with a ceramic globe. (not in this pic) Has a lip clamp and is easy to use.
Finally was the lid. our chicks are already escape artists, which seems to suit our kids as they like to let them out! A lid was a must. The final sheet of MDF (900mm x 600mm is now a perfect flush fit, no cuts required.
I marked out a 100mm border, then two windows with another 100mm between them. Using a hole saw I cut each of the four corners, then used my circular saw to 'join the dots' This could be square but I didn't mind taking the time to have rounded corners.
I cut two more 882mm lengths of the 42mm x 19mm and braced to inside edge of the top of the box. A bit of upper strength, and also some more meat for the hinges to screw into a little down the page.
It was then I had to concede defeat ( I swore I was not going back to the hardware for more material) and...went back to the hardware. I needed some light timber to frame the chicken wire. I purchased 2x 40mm x 12mm x 1800mm lengths. I cut and stapled these on one side to form one large divided frame, then stapled the wire netting to it and trimmed off the excess. Marked and screwed the frame from to top, sandwiching the wire between the frame and lid.
To complete the lid a small plastic handle and three hinges at the back.
The wife and I then painted the first coat of water based paint with a roller and brush. Was ok, but I put the second coat on with a spray gun for a better finish. Once dry, we loaded up our two sons with a spray bottle (you know, the sort for cleaning and stuff) of black, red and blue water based paint and let them 'crazy squirt' some colour onto the outside.
We loaded it with a local Blue gum tree bedding, and six 3 week old chicks. judging by the running, jumping, scratching and bathing I can hear as I write this, I think they like the extra space!
Swapped the incandescent globe for a ceramic one, and ten minutes later.
Thanks for reading, I hope it helps someone else along the way making their own.
Things I would change or do differently, so far I have not found any, maybe stand closer to the kids when they are armed with paint that can be shot, as a tree got nailed with red and so did my foot while watching the brother. they both thought it was amusing!
Seriously though, It would be nice to be a little longer, maybe 1200mm long, but I don't have the space for that.