Brooder in the greenhouse?

Tam'ra of Rainbow Vortex

10 Years
Apr 30, 2009
Rogue Valley, S. Oregon
For my birthday my parents helped me gather and repurpose a bunch of old junk to put together an incredibly effective greenhouse. It's 10 x20' (my old one was 4 x 6') so I have lots of space now. Yay!
Down side is, there's GRASS on my floor. I hate that invasive weed. Nevermind that it was there first, I want it gone.
Meanwhile, I have 50 assorted chicks due to arrive in mid April and where will I put those? The garage will be under construction at the time, the house is too small...and 50 is a LOT of chicks. I must be mad.
So now I am thinking I can solve several problems at once. I can brood the chicks out in the greenhouse. They will have free reign on the floor (all my plants will be on shelves well above their reach) and they will all have plenty of room. I won't have to clean up because the poo can just decompose on the floor. They will eat the grass, thus learning to forrage while hleping me get rid of the weeds. I then don't have to spend money on bedding (my leftover wood chips will be enough for a little box where the heat lamp will go) and during sunny days, I won't even have to heat them! They will adjust to the natural day/night cycle and not wake me up when it happens. If they spill food or water I won't mind. It seems the perfect solution.
Of course when they start flying I will have to protect my shelves. I have several rolls of chicken wire that will do just fine.
And I will need to ensure nothing digs under the walls (nothing but my lab pup is likely to, so I think a ring of sturdy planters around the edges will do it.
But is there anything else I am missing?
Is there any reason I shouldn't use the greenhouse to brood the chicks?


11 Years
Aug 28, 2008
Lexington, Kentucky
I have this dream too and am now envious of your already built greenhouse. I was thinking this. If you have shelves around the side walls and back wall, what if you made brooder pens under the shelves with chicken wire, and made maybe three different ones with doors/dividers. I now use an old window as a divider in mine and it easily pulls out for expansion. That way, you would still have grass in the middle "isle" which would be something like 3 feet?

In my mind you have 10 feet wide and 20 feet long. That would be 3 feet wide brooder by 17 feet long on each side and 3 feet by 10 feet in the back. That is if your door is on one end. If you have shelves shaped like a 'U' then it would be so easy to make the brooders under them. You can allow the chicks to run free as much or as long as you like, but the brooders would keep them confined and not all allow them to jump up on your shelves. It sounds like the absolute perfect brooder, as long as you are careful it doesn't get too hot in full sun. They make screamers that tell you when it is too hot or too cold. You could rig one up.

I now have your beautiful green house all planned out, I WANT ONE, even if it is 6 X4!!

I think you have the perfect solution, all natural and very safe. You may consider a tiny hot wire kit around your perimeter if you have problems with predators, as a raccoon will slip between those pots and easily tear a hole in plastic or dig under if glass.

Can you post a pic after it is all set up??

Good Luck, HenZ

rarely bored

9 Years
Jan 22, 2011
Central California
My cheap greenhouse would be being used as a brooder, if I didn't have beautiful looking spinach, chard, and carrots growing in the dirt right now... The only reason I'd say not to use the greenhouse, would be if you used icky toxic sprays in there, which could kill, maim or harm the chickies. Other than that, they should keep the bug load down, fertilize the dirt, and be kept nice and warm.
LOL, I think 10 by 20 is tooo small for 50 chicks, you might want to get some more!


Heavenly Grains for Hens
9 Years
Jun 8, 2010
Pacific NW- where the Douglas Firs grow
This will be fine IMO as long as you carefully monitor temperature (by thermometer under the heat lamp or in the greenhouse) and humidity (if you are seeing drops of moisture raining down on them it will not be healthy).

They need a constant temperature AVAILABLE until they get fully feathered. So, give them a brooder lamp with the ability to get away from the heat. But even if you have the warmth of the greenhouse during the day, make sure at night they have a nice warm spot at the right temperature.

The temperature that should be available to them is as follows (forgive me if you already know these:)
1st week of life: 90-95
2nd: 85-90
3rd: 80-85
4th: 75-80
5th: 70-75
6th: should be fully feathered wean them carefully

Overheating can kill them, and they can become overheated at 90 degrees in the first week if they need less. SO if your entire greenhouse is 90-95, you might have some losses. They must not have drafts, so you might need to keep them in a box until they are a little older.

Also just to mention that digging animals can dig under the walls of the greenhouse...but this is a personal decision as to whether to go all out over it and put an apron or bury wire.

Also, are your walls predator proof? Are they covered with plastic that can be ripped by a predator? Just food for thought. Don't feel like you have to answer me.

Tam'ra of Rainbow Vortex

10 Years
Apr 30, 2009
Rogue Valley, S. Oregon
Predators are not a problem. I live in the country but I haven't seen any LAND predators at all in the year I have been here. Plus, the greenhouse is in the dog yard where my pair of lab mixes roam. Nothing wants to go in there, and if it does try, Loki and Apollo will make 'friends' with it, thereby terrifying the poor critter out of its mind.
I am planning to keep the chicks in a smaller, draft-free box for at least the first week and then open the door to the box to let them roam free in the greenhouse.
By the time the chicks arrive, I should have my vents finished which automatically open to keep the greenhouse from overheating. I also have a screen door if I need extra ventilation.
So far it seems like a good plan. I just have to make shelf protectors but that should be easy.

And HenZ, I will post pics, you can be sure. But it won't be pretty. As I said it was a lot of repurposed junk. The frame is one of those portable garages (it took off in the wind and the cover got torn up so its owner gave the metal pieces away) and the lower walls are corrugated roofing panels, (all used!) the roof was the luckies find- actual greenhouse plastic (discarded by a professional nursery when they re-covered their industrial greenhouse). All told, I have about $120 into it. Mostly in the door, vents, and hardware. The rest was salvaged by me and my dad.

And no, I will not be getting more chicks to fill my giant brooder. I resist the temptation!!!


9 Years
Jun 1, 2010
The only problem I can think of is the humidity. All of the greenhouses I've been in are extremely humid which I don't think is good for the little chicks. It isn't good for their respiratory systems and they may be more prone to pneumonia, as well as bacterial infections that thrive in hot humid environments. If there was adequate ventilation I'd say it would be fine.....

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