Indoor Chick Brooder and Grow Out Pen

By fraufaulkner · Jan 25, 2019 · ·
  1. fraufaulkner
    I thought I would share how our indoor brooder set up looks and what we did when they needed more space but still didn't have a finished coop yet!

    We made our chick brooder last year (2018) using giant Sterilite bins (50 gallon - the biggest we could find).

    I cut the majority of the lid out and then cut out some hardware cloth to match the new hole. I cut 1x2s to fit the top and drilled holes through the wood and lid in the corners and used bolts and nuts to connect.

    I cut a small dowel rod to fit the corners and screwed them in. The short one is a few inches higher than the longer one. I nailed posts into the longer one and screwed the posts into the bottom of the bin, but they weren't really necessary and I ended up removing them for this year.
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    The initial plan was just to have 5 chicks, so this single bin would suffice. But....chicken math! We ended up ordering more and got a total of 9. So I a made a second bin (without roosts) and connected them to make a chick condo. For the lid on the second bin I just used washers instead of the 1x2s to hold down the wire, and while it is much lighter, the lid warps more easily and needs to be clamped on to the bin to not leave gaps.
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    We used the Mama Hen Heating Pad to keep our chicks warm, and used a nipple waterer to keep things cleaner. We lined the bins with puppy pads and then shelf liner on top to keep the chicks from slipping, but I hated the liner (not as easy to clean as advertised) and am not using it again this year - just the puppy pads for a week and then pine shavings.

    Here are the chicks enjoying their new home and cuddling up under the heating pad.
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    The chicks are enjoying the roosts a week or so later.

    Here's a stand I built out of scraps for the feeder to keep it from getting filled with shavings and being knocked over by the chicks flying on top of and off of it.

    Our coop took a lot longer to build than originally planned...and after a month the chicks were getting crowded in their brooder. So I used baby play yard panels on top of a tarp and tied the tarp around the sides up to about a foot to keep the shavings in. I kept the brooder bins in the new area to help contain the food and give them places to go into and out of and to roost on. I covered the top with an old garden row cover (attached with binder clips) so they couldn't fly out, but we visited them often and took the cover off with supervision so they could hop up and enjoy what we called top time. The area was approximately 5'x5'.
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    Eventually they tore holes through the thin cover and we had some escapees! (Ignore the ridiculous amount of chick dust covering the eventually got cleaned!) After this happened a few times, I replaced the row cover for an old queen sized bed sheet.

    After 3 months of chickens living in the house and the weather finally cooperating but the coop still not finished, I moved the whole set up into our sunroom (and thoroughly cleaned our pool room of all that dust)!
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    While it wasn't too difficult to tear down and move the whole set up, the chickens were determined to stick together and not be moved one by one as I had planned. Most of them huddled in one bin that I carried out there, but Daisy and Lily (the Easter Eggers) refused to cooperate and I literally chased them through the house until I finally herded them out the door and they found their chick buddies again.

    I hope this helps some of you looking for ideas to contain your chicks before they move outside!

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    About Author

    We started our first flock in 2018! We keep our chickens as pets and personal egg layers, and look forward to having a few eggs left over for sharing with friends and family. We did a lot of research before choosing our chickens and coop plans and hope that by sharing our experiences others can learn more and get ideas for starting their own flock!

Recent User Reviews

  1. mumofsix
    "love your setup"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Mar 2, 2019
    When browsing I saw you heatpad . . I have a Huge Brooder in my Garage but We are suppose to get snow this weekend . I"m
    gone the biggest part of the daytime and scared of those heatlamps in my house ,Also not a fan of the smell . The last time I had chicks this young was 5 years ago and it was late March .I kept them in the house in a large tote with a 100 watt bulb . But When I saw the "heatpad mom" I had to make on . needless to say .My chicks love it . Thanks
    for sharing ,


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    fraufaulkner likes this.
  2. no fly zone
    "Very helpful article!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Feb 23, 2019
    We are expecting eggs in the mail very soon, and I will use this as a template to build our brooder.

    fraufaulkner likes this.
  3. ChickNanny13
    "Great Ideas"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jan 25, 2019
    Loved your article and experience with your chicks/chickens. Yup, that dust cured me of raising in house. I also use a plastic bin with screened top, MHP but now they move out to the brooder in the patio after a week in the house (observation). Think we all are happier, they have more room & I don't have all that dust to deal with. They also have a "mobile" run for nice weather ...


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    fraufaulkner likes this.


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  1. orangesplash
    amazing! Beautiful!
      fraufaulkner likes this.
  2. Quacker381
    This defiantly gave me some ideas for my eyeless ducky!! Great job! Thanks for the ideas!
      fraufaulkner likes this.
  3. Ranchwithaview
    Clever idea for the larger brooder. I have thought about using ours for when I move them out. Did you make your the waterer on the stand in the last photo?
      fraufaulkner likes this.
    1. fraufaulkner
      I did. I got a 2 gallon food grade bucket from Lowe’s and drilled holes to add horizontal nipples. It fit perfectly on a plant stand we picked up at Aldi. I also got a “no roost cap” meant for a 5 gallon bucket, but it does the job on this smaller one, too.
      Ranchwithaview likes this.
  4. N F C
    Good job on the brooder and grow out arrangement!
      Ricabred and fraufaulkner like this.

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