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Brooder i am planning to build

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by oldcluck, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. oldcluck

    oldcluck Out Of The Brooder

    May 16, 2011
    This year i brooded my 15 chicks in a 55 gallon aquarium with a heat lamp. It worked ok but next year i would like to have a better solution. one i can put out in my shop building. I don't want it to be a fire hazard. and it needs to be big enough to get 25 chicks to 2-3 weeks of age. Using google sketchup I have come up with the following idea. I will probably build something like this in the fall or winter for use next spring.
    I would love anyone's input. informed criticism or suggestions both welcome. I think this can be made from 1 sheet of plywood cut in 4 2ft sections. One devided into 2x2's, some hardwood cloth, 2 2x4's and a couple 1x 2's So a lot less $$ than the commercial metal brooders.
    I can provide the google sketchup file if anyone wants it.
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I'm not sure what the overall dimensions of yours are. I can see the 2' width and an overall height of 3 feet, but that is it. I also cannot tell what you have as a floor. Is it plywood or hardware cloth?

    I'll show you what I did to raise them in the coop. I've raised as many as 28 chicks to age 4-1/2 weeks in it. It is 3' x 5' and 24" tall. The floor is one piece of 1/2" hardware cloth. The sides and top are 1" hardware cloth. I took a roll of 2' wide hardware cloth and bent it to form the sides and used J-Clips to put it together, them put a piece of hardware cloth on top, again connecting it with J-Clips. To make the doors, I cut out a hole, one in the front and one on top. Then I cut an oversized piece of hardware cloth and using J-Clips as hinges, put that on. I use a snap lock to hold the doors closed.

    To get it in and out of my coop door, I had to build the frame separate. It is basically two H-shaped sections with a couple of bottom railings to connect them. The brooder sets inside that. Then I used a piece of plastic all the way to the ground to make a draft guard.


    The reason I have that plywood thing on top is to make a "chimney" to put my heat lamp so the other chickens in the coop stay out of it. That was not a problem with my first chicks but it was after I had other chicks in the coop. In your shop, that would not be a problem for you. That duct tape on the top right corner is to cover up the sharp edges so I don't snag my clothes as I walk by. That corner is a tight squeeze by my nesting boxes.

    A couple of problems with mine. The wire floor is not real level and it bounces when they walk, especially when they get a little bigger. I had to fix a piece of plywood to the frame and level it to set the water on so they don't spill it. My only access is a door in the front. I can't reach them in the back corners to catch them, so I made a small net out of a piece or bent wire and a net onion bag so I could catch them. Any spilled feed goes right through the floor so it is lost.

    The poop falls right through the 1/2" hardware cloth floor. If they drop a chunk too big to go through, their walking on it after it dries a bit pushes it on through. So expect a real mess underneath. It's really not that hard to rake out for me, but in your shop it might be a problem. Maybe make a tray and put bedding in that to absorb it and make something easy to clean out?

    I'm not telling you to build one like mine, more of showing what I did and point out a few problems so maybe you can avoid some of them.

    As to yours, how do you plan to clean it out? The only access I see is through the top. That top door will be handy in catching them and providing access to the feeder and waterer, but you might want to consider a side door for cleanout.

    I like your use of hardwire cloth for light and ventilation. My theory is to heat one area to the right temperature and let the rest of the brooder cool off as it will. Usually that is 20 to 30 degrees cooler than the recommended temperatures. That way they can find their own comfort zone and you don't have to worry about keeping the whole thing the "right" temperature. I think you achieve that.

    What I might suggest is use the plywood to make a "draft guard" about a foot high and make the rest of the sides out of hardware cloth. I know it is to be in your shop, but I like the idea of the brooder not depending on location to keep the draft off. Maybe you want to leave a door or some windows to the shop open? Or make your sides 100% hardware cloth and plan on attaching something as a draft guard, especially if the bottom of yours is hardware cloth. I know hardware cloth is expensive, but maybe you don't need any plywood at all, depending on how you do your floor.

    I'm guessing that yours is planned to be 2' x 4'. That size might work out for 25 chicks at 3 weeks age, but I'd suggest looking at making it bigger. I think it is going to get pretty crowded as fast as they grow. That just seems too small for 25. If you make it a little bigger than the minimum you need, you have a little flexibility in how you manage them. Something may happen that your three weeks in the brooder becomes four.

    Instead of using 2x4's, I'd suggest ripping a 2x4 to create 2x2's. You get twice as much length, 2x4's are usually less warped than the 2x2's you can buy, and here a 2x4 is a little cheaper than a badly warped 2x2. Those 2x2's will be plenty strong enough for what you want to do.

    You can do your heat lamp like that, just setting it on top of the wire and keeping a steady heat to the one area, provided your brooder is big enough and well ventilated enough for the chicks to get away if it is too hot. I don't know if the ventilate part is a problem in your shop. You could change the wattage of the bulb or hang it and raise it to cool off if you need to. But in any case, I suggest securely attaching the heat lamp where it cannot possibly get knocked off or fall. Do not depend on the clamp that comes with it. Use wire or something really secure. That secure wire will do more to lessen the fire hazard than anything else.

    It takes up a lot of room, but if I had to do it over again, I'd build something permanent in the coop. Put it a foot or two off the floor so I can clean under it, and make it almost entirely out of hardware cloth and those ripped 2x2's. It would not be that hard. The biggest problem I see is figuring out how to provide heat that is secure from the other chickens and that is not that hard to overcome. It is just something you have to think about ahead of time. This way, I could raise them with the rest of the flock from Day 1 which I think helps with integration. I keep all chicken supplies in one place and I keep all chicken smells and dust in one place. With it built in with a wire floor, I have a broody buster and a place to isolate an injured chicken while keeping it with the flock. It would not work as a quarantine area, but if you wanted to integrate a few chickens later on, you could keep them in here to get them used to the flock. And I would build a solid, level area for the waterer. That is a pain with my current one.

    I know my situation is different from yours, but maybe you can pick up something from this that helps. Good luck!
  3. dianaross77

    dianaross77 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 10, 2010
    Grand Blanc, MI
    Once you add a feeder and waterer to that, I'm not sure there would be enough room for 25 chicks for more than a week (unless they're bantams). They grow so fast. My 4 isa pullets outgrew their 2'x3' brooder after about 3 weeks. I would have some plastic sheeting or extra plywood panels on hand to cover some of the hardware cloth to help hold the heat in. It can be hard to maintain the heat in a brooder depending on where it's kept and the time of year. You can also use a lamp dimmer from Home Depot to adjust the temp without having to move the lamp. Other than that, it looks good. [​IMG]
  4. lynn1961

    lynn1961 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 14, 2011
    south central Oklahoma
    That makes me think of the brooder we built last fall. Our is on wheels, so we can move it easier.
    Has 3 tiers ( for different ages of chicks)
    Has pull outs for the poop catchers, easier to clean.
    Has a heating element from a incubator and a porcelin light socket for bulbs, so the heat can be adjusted for any temature or time of year needed.
    A fan for air circulation.
    Also used the plastic windows from the incubator so we can see whats going on in there.
    On big door on the front.
    The seperate tiers have gates to keep the chicks in when the main door is open.
    Insulated on the outside with styrofoam sheeting.
    Each tier can hold about 25 chicks
  5. lynn1961

    lynn1961 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 14, 2011
    south central Oklahoma
    Over all dimensions on the tiered brooder are aprox. 5 foot tall and 5 foot wide. Has been used out on the porch in winter time, in an extra room and in the work shop, the only time more than a bulb has been needed has been in the winter when it was outside.
    Cost was 35.00 for the incubatoe
    rabbit wire that we had on hand
    scrap lumber and styrofoam insultion that was recycled
    a couple of hinges and latches
    the casters were the most expensive part.
    This brooder has led to chicken math for me ( allowed more incubation and brooding )
    Best money that I have spent on chicken supplies
  6. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Ridgerunner pretty well said it all, just wanted to agree that it's a little small. At 3 weeks I feel they need close to a square foot per chick for large fowl. If you sell the chicks, it might work if they are gradually sold off.

    I have about a 5'x5' pen inside my coop where any chicks I can't get a broody to take are raised.
  7. chicken_noob

    chicken_noob Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 22, 2011
    Chehalis WA.
    I love the looks of that brooder. I may have to mess with that program. But back to your design. I will agree that it seems a wee bit on the small side.. as it will be ea. chick will slightly less the 8"x8" space, minus the food/water and anything else you put in. I did what you also did, cut a sheet into 2' sections for the side. Mines 3x4' divided into 2 sections. I have a solid bottom on it and it rests on some storage bins I had in the shop..making it taller for me and not as "inviting" for the kids to play with the chicks. I then built a 2x4 frame around the top and covered it with hardware cloth giving them a few extra inches to flap their wings. Also instead of the real heat lamps that get hot I clip them on the wall inside of the brooder and use a 60w bulb I think. I use 2 of these lights, one in each half. They point mostly down so there is pleanty of space to spread out though they like so snuggle and sleep near them. I really love my new brooder and wish I made it long ago. I think yours may work well. It all really depends on if you will take them out at 3wks.. bantams vs giants.. fast feathering vs slow. I hope it works for ya.
  8. oldcluck

    oldcluck Out Of The Brooder

    May 16, 2011
    Thanks for all the replies. For the floor i am planning on using hardware cloth and will cover it with paper towels for the first day or 2. I didn't draw it in there yet but I thought i would build a removable tray underneath it to catch the droppings so that it would be easily cleanable.
    Maybe 6'x4' instead of the 2'x4' so that crowding would be less of an issue? Or maybe 2 4'x3' brooders as a 6'x4' may make it hard to reach all the chicks . My plan is to sell at least half of the chicks as their doesn't seem to be anyone else locally selling my breed. (Dominique) The rest will be grown out for eating and laying.
    I would like a better idea for a heat source than the lamp fastened on the top but am not sure how to incorporate something that wouldn't be a fire hazard. Any ideas or photos for that?
    Thanks guys.
  9. oldcluck

    oldcluck Out Of The Brooder

    May 16, 2011
    By the way anyone wanting the .skp file to play with in google sketchup can download it from my web site.

    Google sketchup is free and really a great tool for designing anything from coops to feeders to brooders.
  10. dianaross77

    dianaross77 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 10, 2010
    Grand Blanc, MI
    Look on google for ecoglow brooders for an alternative heat source. I put my lamp on top of the lid but secured it to the wire with binder clips so I could open the lid without touching the hot lamp. You could use tiny c-clamps too.

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