Anyone use these pens for baby chicks?

Chick Wrangler

In the Brooder
Mar 2, 2019
Sevier County, Utah
I use a folding wire dog kennel. I had to line the sides with 1/4" hardware cloth so the chicks can't just walk through the uprights and then fling the pine shavings everywhere. But I only had to do that once.

What I like about it is I can put it on the big counter between my kitchen and family room. We're together all the time when I'm working in the kitchen or watching TV so they get used to me. I'm not looming over them and being a terrifying presence. I can reach in easily to clean the feed and water. They come right to the door if my grandson or I approach. There's lots of room for Mama Heating Pad, a waterer and a feeder (though probably not 20 chicks!). I put in little branch roosts with nylon zip ties.

Then when it's time for them to go out to the run, I take them kennel and all. They have their own protected food and water while the big girls get used to being around them. I put the kennel next to the big girls' feeder so they get used to being close but neither group of birds or their food source is threatened by the other.

After 3-4 weeks out there in the shared space the chicks are pretty adolescent and hardy so I open the door to the kennel and let them decide when they're going to venture out. Initially, they'll spend their days in the general population but go back to the kennel to roost when the big girls go up to the coop. But when I feel like it's time, I take the kennel out and fold it up for storage. The adolescents will still huddle together in the run at night (it's perfectly safe) until one day they just decide to follow the older hens up to the coop. They'll huddle in the bedding on the side opposite the roosts for a while but in time they fully integrate. They find their spot on the roost and they're a member of the flock.

Since I've started doing it this way, I've had NO mean girl nonsense. It's been great.
IAR: This sounds like a really cool way to do this. What do you use for "Mama Heating Pad?"

AllenK RGV

Chicken Addict
Jul 23, 2017
Deep South Texas Laureles,TX 10A
Hi AllenK RGV! Could you provide me with more info on your heating pad that you use? I have only found ones around 50-60watts. Trying to buy something for a brooder box for my chicks.
Mine is just a 13 x 18 in 1 that I got at Walmart and wrap it around a feed pail when I brood mine. The low setting takes my pan 295 degrees they just move in and out as needed.


Here is an excellent older post with illustrating photos on Mama Heating Pad. It may be the one that guided me when I started brooding chicks.

The important feature you want to look for is a heating pad that operates continuously and doesn't have the automatic shutoff feature.

I just molded some hardware cloth I had hanging around to form the cave. On top of that I put the heating pad and then cover that with some cheap remnants of fleece. Yes, the chicks will poop all over it! I rinse it off or throw it out since it gets pretty cheap in the warm months.

I also got a cheap feather duster, sawed off most of the handle and I put that in the cave for the chicks to snuggle into.


Feb 12, 2020
Pueblo, CO
Just some additional ideas in case you're still mulling this over - I start chicks in the house in large rectangular (I think they are 108 gallons or so) almost clear storage containers from your local home improvement store lined with puppy pads with the waterer on a couple pieces of 2x4 covered with paper towel, change the puppy pads every other day the first 4-5 days then daily, heat lamp clipped to a shelf at just the right height for new hatchlings. They can be cleaned and disinfected easily, so if you have two, you can set up the second one with clean everything and just move them all, then clean out the one you just emptied and have it ready for the next day. If you have to keep them this way longer than a couple of weeks you can split them into two groups.

Once I'm sure everyone is eating, drinking, running around and thriving (a week-ish), I move them outside to a 4x6 pen in the (unheated but has lights I turn on in the morning and off at night) shed with a heat plate and shavings - I use the heat plate from Premier1 Supplies which is a more affordable version of the Brinsea heat plate.

I have a friend who raises all her chicks in large metal watering troughs with heat plates from day 1, shavings on the bottom, it's high enough they can't jump out for 2-3 weeks, and the heat plate is economical to run and allows them to sleep in darkness at night, which should be better for them. Depending on the weather where you are, usually by about 4 weeks of age they have enough feathers to not need any supplemental heat, and if you wind up with 20, they will generate so much heat you might not need it after 3 weeks, or might need it only at night.

I'm sure you will get the right approach figured out for your specific situation, you've had so many great suggestions already!


Mar 17, 2017
Piketon, Ohio
My first batch of eight chicks were basement babies until we got the coop finished (about five weeks). I kept them in a large, collapsible puppy playpen with pine shavings as bedding. I had a large heating plate brooder for them and they had plenty of room for a couple of weeks until they could move in the coop. The second batch of eight went in the puppy pen with sand as bedding (that’s what I have in the coop and run), then a large cage that was moved into the coop after two weeks. The coop was designed so that the cage fit under the highest poop deck and the older pullets could see the newbs, but not get to them.

The last batch of seven were broody raised right in the coop with the hens and the rooster. That worked the best! If I were to start a new flock, I’d put them right in the cage under the poop deck and, after the first couple of weeks, just leave the cage door open so they can roam around inside the coop, but still have their heating plate to sleep under. Once they are able to easily manage a short ramp, they could have play time in the run. Of course, I’d only do that if I didn’t have any larger birds left and was completely starting from chicklets.


12 Years
Sep 18, 2007
Pell City, Alabama
You can also sit it inside a large kiddie pool to catch the shavings they fling out. I kept mine in the larger Rubbermaid tubs with a mesh top and heat lamp above until they started feathering out, then they moved to hutches outside before the final move to the big coops. I got my hutches at TSC and assembled them. They come with a perch and they open on the front and/or top so easy to clean out.


No question a mama hen would be the ideal way to do it. But so long as mine have to brood in a kennel for a few weeks I think I'll start them inside where i can keep watch on them.

I had to keep an eye for pasty butt and be cleaning at least the waterer and often the feeder several times a day. The run's too far away to be diligent about that. Plus -- big plus -- they're just toooooooo cute and fun to miss all that.

Moving the kennel out to the run when they're feathered out and letting them keep it for comfort and protection for a few more weeks worked so well I don't see that doing it from Day 1 would have worked out better. There's no question my family room would have smelled better! But it wasn't such a sacrifice for that wonderful experienced of being there for their first weeks of life. But, of course, that's just me and my grandson. Your mileage may vary.

Chick Wrangler

In the Brooder
Mar 2, 2019
Sevier County, Utah
Hi I'm planning on hatching in a couple months. Wanted to know if anyone has experience with this sort of set up.

Want to keep them in my spare room to age 8 weeks. Will hopefully have approx 20 birds.

My main question is, how do you clean it? I have a few ideas but I want to know what other people have done.

You guys ROCK. thank IA

Relatively Large & Inexpensive Brooder (Budget Brooder)

At a previous house was only allowed by city ordinances to have six hens so did not want to invest a lot in a brooder that would probably not get used again for several years. (Also was somewhat broke after remodeling a large storage shed into a coop, building a run, and buying a bunch of chicken supplies!)

The chicks had spent the first few weeks in a large storage tote in the house under a light. After that was looking for a larger brooder with more room. Since it was in a downstairs spare bedroom also wanted one that would not be messy. (Opening the window during the day helped a lot with smell!)

-Got a large used melon box from a grocery store. Offered to pay for it but they gave it to me for free. (They are also used for other types of produce.) As I recall it was about 5 ft long x about 3 1/2 ft wide x about 3 ft tall? Octagon-shaped? and made from very heavy cardboard.

-Lined box with plastic sheeting. Covered the bottom of box with pine shavings. Tied a rope tightly around outside top to keep the plastic sheeting from falling into box or forming pockets that could suffocate chicks.

-Got a roll of hardware cloth, a sturdy piece of lumber (2" x 2"?) and a few dowel rods from a home improvement store. Covered the top of box w/hardware cloth and then hung feeder/grit, treats and waterer from the piece of lumber on top of hardware cloth. Used the other half of top (separate piece) to remove to reach inside. Used caribbener (sp?) clips for easy removal of feeders, etc. for cleaning & refilling.

-Hung a thermometer on inside.

-Made some small holes on one end of box a few inches from bottom slightly too small then put dowel rods through for perches. Chicks would play on the perches all day and before long they were roosting on them at night.

-Used a very well-secured heat lamp hanging from above. VERY IMPORTANT if you use a heat lamp so it does not get close to box or shavings and catch fire! (In this case light was chained to a rod which was tied to old 6 ft ladders on two sides of brooder.) Have since come to believe there are better & safer sources of heat in brooders than heat lamps!

-Since the chicks constantly kicked bedding & poop into the water I ended up purchasing a couple of rabbit bottles for water (the kind with balls on the end) and secured them to outside of box with the drinking tubes coming in through holes. The people at the ranch store said this would not work for chicks but it worked so well ended up removing the hanging waterer after a few days. That saved a lot of work and also saved room as the chicks grew & needed more space. For a large number of chicks that might work best as a secondary water source? (Side note: Tried a "leak-proof" bottle w/o the balls (or maybe the balls were not on the end?) and the chicks would not use that one.) The bottles do leak a little-especially right after refilling.

It was very easy to clean (the way someone else mentioned in an earlier post by scooping out the shavings once or twice a week with a dust pan), wiping off liner as needed and putting new shavings in. Only took a minute or two each time.

This setup worked very well for me and as a plus could be folded up & the accessories kept in small storage tote when not in use. That was about 7 yrs ago and cost me roughly $25.00 to put together (not including the heat lamp setup). Used it for several years then gave it to someone else to use.
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