So we couldn't find older chicks, which we were looking for as 1st time chicken owners.
I ordered Chicks from the feed store and they were on the way. 5 days out I had to find a quick brooder to care for them. After a lot of research on this sight and talking with people on the Colorado Thread (We're in Northern CO) I came to the Plastic Storage Tote design.
I got a Clear 100 gallon Sterilite Tote from Wal-mart ($10), Brooder lamp ($10), and a red 250w heat lamp ($9.99).
I measured the top 25" and cut 2 pieces out of pallet decking 1"x 4". Then measured the sides at about 10" and cut 2 more 1"x 4". I then screwed the 1st 2 pieces together and ripped them down the center and the same with the 2 short pieces. This makes 4 long and 4 short identical pieces for frames. Then I screwed the frames together and made sure they matched. I laid one of the frames on the lid and marked out the cut for the lid. I cut this using a cut out wheel on my cordless drill. The RPM's are lower and easier to control the cut, plus a saw might shatter the plastic. After the lid was cut I mounted the chicken wire to the frame. Then I screwed the bottom frame under the lid to hold it in place while I lined up the top frame. This made a sandwich between the wood frames, plastic lid, & the chicken wire. NOTE: I have a cat in the house and I took this design approach do to this bird eating cat.
Then I added the paper towels (1st week only). The Feeder and Water from Murdock's. $6.97 for both. A small window thermometer(Free, maybe a $ at the store) and a Wireless thermometer I got at ACE on sale for $9.99 (this will be move permanently to the coop afterwards). You can see the wireless transmitter in the top picture. The receiver has Alarm set points for High\Low temps, which is really nice. I hung the lamp off a ceiling hook and an old belt. I dialed it into about 93*F and set the thermometer alarms to 85*F\99*F. It's been holding steady!
You can see a diaper box I added as a cool retreat from the brooder lamp. If I'm at work and something happens it stays about 75*F in there. I tested it out with the brooder lamp directly on top. It hit 125*F with the lamp on the chicken wire and 75*F in the box.
It's nice to have a backup plan.
Total: $46.95 Not Bad!
Tote - $10
Lamp - $10
Red Bulb - $9.99
Pallet Wood - $ FREE
Chicken wire - $ FREE Craigslist
Small window Thermometer - $ FREE (a $ or 2 at the store)
Wireless Thermometer (W\ alarms) - $9.99
Feeder - $3.49 (I already had the mason jar)
Water - top $1.49 - bottom $1.99
Here's my chickies in the water container.
BROODER LAMP TIMER: So I'm on week 3 now. I have the brooder lamp on a timer. It comes on for 30 minutes X 3 a night. They are a little fussy and restless for the first hour, but they dont make a peep the rest of the night after that.
BEDDING: Also on week 3 I switched to a pine chip and shreaded paper mix for the bedding. They really enjoy scratching in the bedding for food.