Do I buy an all inclusive brooder or?

CroneWild

In the Brooder
Jan 2, 2022
14
40
46
Soon to bee chicken owner here, So I have been thinking on what to get for a brooder, Do I get a fancy all included brooder? or do I buy bits and bobs by themselves? I'm worried that a hot plate+ wall+ feeder+ water is going to be as much as the fancy all inclusive brooder, but I have to accommodate around 20 chicks.

Any recommendations of set up? our garage, workshop is not insulated but has electricity and chicks would be here in april with temp averaging 57F - 27F at night
 

azygous

Enabler
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
26,002
40,069
1,232
Colorado Rockies
Buy? Really? BUY a brooder? Sorry, I never can justify buying anything that can so easily be fashioned with odds and ends and repurposed things. Look at this. https://www.backyardchickens.com/ar...and-start-raising-your-chicks-outdoors.71995/ It has pictures of all of my various brooders over the years, including how I brood now - right in my enclosed run.

As long as this is your maiden voyage into chick brooding and chicken raising, why not take a look at your coop or run with brooding out there instead of indoors in your garage? This is much more convenient and chicks grow up where they will be living in only a few short weeks anyway.
 

CroneWild

In the Brooder
Jan 2, 2022
14
40
46
Buy? Really? BUY a brooder? Sorry, I never can justify buying anything that can so easily be fashioned with odds and ends and repurposed things. Look at this. https://www.backyardchickens.com/ar...and-start-raising-your-chicks-outdoors.71995/ It has pictures of all of my various brooders over the years, including how I brood now - right in my enclosed run.

As long as this is your maiden voyage into chick brooding and chicken raising, why not take a look at your coop or run with brooding out there instead of indoors in your garage? This is much more convenient and chicks grow up where they will be living in only a few short weeks anyway.
I was just reading your fabulous post, the chicken coop I have is high from the ground and I'm slightly worried if the chicks can go and find the way back up, but it seems doable, I just need to see if I can get power to the coop to install some hot plates.

temps in April go from the high 60F to the mid 20F but is for sure doable.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,298
23,600
907
Southeast Louisiana
Are you looking at a specific brooder to buy? There are many different ones out there, it's easier to evaluate if we know what you are looking at.

What are the temperatures inside that garage/work shop? How stable are they? To me the biggest challenge in brooding outside are the temperature swings. My brooder is in the coop, I've seen it go from below freezing to the mid 70's Fahrenheit in about a day. Your averages aren't that important, it's your potential extremes. That's where you are most likely to get into trouble.

To me the perfect brooder is one that has one spot warm enough in the coldest temperatures and a spot cool enough in the warmest temperatures. If you are in a climate controlled area that's not that hard to achieve but with temperature swings outside that can be a challenge. I keep one end of my brooder toasty in the coldest temperatures, sometimes ice forms on the far end. In hot weather the chicks spend a lot of time on the cooler end. I find chicks straight out of the incubator can move to a comfortable temperature if given the option.

You mentioned 20 chicks. They grow really fast so you may need a much bigger brooder than you initially think. The age you take them out of the brooder is pretty important in how big it needs to be. My first brooder was 3' x 5'. I kept 28 chicks in that until they were 5 week old, then it started looking really crowded. All but 5 of these were girls. Another time I kept 23 chicks in it until they were 5 weeks old, then it started getting crowded. All but five were boys. There are some variables involved. I've had chicks 5-1/2 weeks old go through nights in the mid 20's Fahrenheit with no supplemental heat. I don't know where you are located but I'd suspect you can take yours off of heat by 5 weeks old.

The requirements for a brooder are that you have to have food and clean water, predator protection, and weather protection. Weather protection means you keep them dry, you prevent a breeze from hitting them, and in most situations, you need to provide heat. You will with those temperatures. Is your coop built? By your first post there are no adults out there. Can you set the coop up so it meets these requirements? How well can you set something up in that garage/workshop to suit this? That may help you decide where to put the brooder. If your coop is not built yet, get started, it needs to be finished when you first get your chicks. They grow really fast and life has a way of interfering with schedules.

How often do you plan to brood chicks in the future? I brood at last once and sometimes twice a year, depending on how many hatch and how my broody hens do. I built a permanent 3' x 6' brooder in my coop. I also use it as a broody buster and to isolate chickens that need isolating when I'm not brooding chicks. I like building in flexibility and, since it is often used, I feel better about spending some money to build it right. If this is it and you do not plan on brooding any chicks in the future you may want to be more fugal. A popular way to put together a fairly inexpensive brooder is to get a large appliance cardboard box for something like your garage/workshop. Put some more cardboard or plywood on the floor to prevent staining from the poop. If they outgrow that brooder, get another appliance box and tape the two together. Of course, there are lots of other ways to build a brooder.

What kind of hot plate are you looking at? There are different ways to provide heat to the chicks. The chicks don't care where the heat comes from as long as they have heat when they need it. I use heat lamps but many people are scared of them. You can use heating pads or heat plates. People use other heating elements and methods. Whatever you do it needs to be installed safely. If you are looking at a heating plate is it big enough for 20 chicks? What temperatures are it rated for? You might want to check with the manufacturer to see what they recommend. If you make a heating pad cave, which are very popular on here, you want one that does not have an automatic shut-off and it needs to be a certain size. Don't use an old cracked one, cracked wires can cause a fire. There are little tricks with any of them on how to set them up safely, you might start a thread with the type you want to use to ask how to set it up. There is a lot of good experience on this forum.

Good luck!
 

CroneWild

In the Brooder
Jan 2, 2022
14
40
46
Are you looking at a specific brooder to buy? There are many different ones out there, it's easier to evaluate if we know what you are looking at.

What are the temperatures inside that garage/work shop? How stable are they? To me the biggest challenge in brooding outside are the temperature swings. My brooder is in the coop, I've seen it go from below freezing to the mid 70's Fahrenheit in about a day. Your averages aren't that important, it's your potential extremes. That's where you are most likely to get into trouble.

To me the perfect brooder is one that has one spot warm enough in the coldest temperatures and a spot cool enough in the warmest temperatures. If you are in a climate controlled area that's not that hard to achieve but with temperature swings outside that can be a challenge. I keep one end of my brooder toasty in the coldest temperatures, sometimes ice forms on the far end. In hot weather the chicks spend a lot of time on the cooler end. I find chicks straight out of the incubator can move to a comfortable temperature if given the option.

You mentioned 20 chicks. They grow really fast so you may need a much bigger brooder than you initially think. The age you take them out of the brooder is pretty important in how big it needs to be. My first brooder was 3' x 5'. I kept 28 chicks in that until they were 5 week old, then it started looking really crowded. All but 5 of these were girls. Another time I kept 23 chicks in it until they were 5 weeks old, then it started getting crowded. All but five were boys. There are some variables involved. I've had chicks 5-1/2 weeks old go through nights in the mid 20's Fahrenheit with no supplemental heat. I don't know where you are located but I'd suspect you can take yours off of heat by 5 weeks old.

The requirements for a brooder are that you have to have food and clean water, predator protection, and weather protection. Weather protection means you keep them dry, you prevent a breeze from hitting them, and in most situations, you need to provide heat. You will with those temperatures. Is your coop built? By your first post there are no adults out there. Can you set the coop up so it meets these requirements? How well can you set something up in that garage/workshop to suit this? That may help you decide where to put the brooder. If your coop is not built yet, get started, it needs to be finished when you first get your chicks. They grow really fast and life has a way of interfering with schedules.

How often do you plan to brood chicks in the future? I brood at last once and sometimes twice a year, depending on how many hatch and how my broody hens do. I built a permanent 3' x 6' brooder in my coop. I also use it as a broody buster and to isolate chickens that need isolating when I'm not brooding chicks. I like building in flexibility and, since it is often used, I feel better about spending some money to build it right. If this is it and you do not plan on brooding any chicks in the future you may want to be more fugal. A popular way to put together a fairly inexpensive brooder is to get a large appliance cardboard box for something like your garage/workshop. Put some more cardboard or plywood on the floor to prevent staining from the poop. If they outgrow that brooder, get another appliance box and tape the two together. Of course, there are lots of other ways to build a brooder.

What kind of hot plate are you looking at? There are different ways to provide heat to the chicks. The chicks don't care where the heat comes from as long as they have heat when they need it. I use heat lamps but many people are scared of them. You can use heating pads or heat plates. People use other heating elements and methods. Whatever you do it needs to be installed safely. If you are looking at a heating plate is it big enough for 20 chicks? What temperatures are it rated for? You might want to check with the manufacturer to see what they recommend. If you make a heating pad cave, which are very popular on here, you want one that does not have an automatic shut-off and it needs to be a certain size. Don't use an old cracked one, cracked wires can cause a fire. There are little tricks with any of them on how to set them up safely, you might start a thread with the type you want to use to ask how to set it up. There is a lot of good experience on this forum.

Good luck!
 

CroneWild

In the Brooder
Jan 2, 2022
14
40
46
Are you looking at a specific brooder to buy? There are many different ones out there, it's easier to evaluate if we know what you are looking at.

What are the temperatures inside that garage/work shop? How stable are they? To me the biggest challenge in brooding outside are the temperature swings. My brooder is in the coop, I've seen it go from below freezing to the mid 70's Fahrenheit in about a day. Your averages aren't that important, it's your potential extremes. That's where you are most likely to get into trouble.

To me the perfect brooder is one that has one spot warm enough in the coldest temperatures and a spot cool enough in the warmest temperatures. If you are in a climate controlled area that's not that hard to achieve but with temperature swings outside that can be a challenge. I keep one end of my brooder toasty in the coldest temperatures, sometimes ice forms on the far end. In hot weather the chicks spend a lot of time on the cooler end. I find chicks straight out of the incubator can move to a comfortable temperature if given the option.

You mentioned 20 chicks. They grow really fast so you may need a much bigger brooder than you initially think. The age you take them out of the brooder is pretty important in how big it needs to be. My first brooder was 3' x 5'. I kept 28 chicks in that until they were 5 week old, then it started looking really crowded. All but 5 of these were girls. Another time I kept 23 chicks in it until they were 5 weeks old, then it started getting crowded. All but five were boys. There are some variables involved. I've had chicks 5-1/2 weeks old go through nights in the mid 20's Fahrenheit with no supplemental heat. I don't know where you are located but I'd suspect you can take yours off of heat by 5 weeks old.

The requirements for a brooder are that you have to have food and clean water, predator protection, and weather protection. Weather protection means you keep them dry, you prevent a breeze from hitting them, and in most situations, you need to provide heat. You will with those temperatures. Is your coop built? By your first post there are no adults out there. Can you set the coop up so it meets these requirements? How well can you set something up in that garage/workshop to suit this? That may help you decide where to put the brooder. If your coop is not built yet, get started, it needs to be finished when you first get your chicks. They grow really fast and life has a way of interfering with schedules.

How often do you plan to brood chicks in the future? I brood at last once and sometimes twice a year, depending on how many hatch and how my broody hens do. I built a permanent 3' x 6' brooder in my coop. I also use it as a broody buster and to isolate chickens that need isolating when I'm not brooding chicks. I like building in flexibility and, since it is often used, I feel better about spending some money to build it right. If this is it and you do not plan on brooding any chicks in the future you may want to be more fugal. A popular way to put together a fairly inexpensive brooder is to get a large appliance cardboard box for something like your garage/workshop. Put some more cardboard or plywood on the floor to prevent staining from the poop. If they outgrow that brooder, get another appliance box and tape the two together. Of course, there are lots of other ways to build a brooder.

What kind of hot plate are you looking at? There are different ways to provide heat to the chicks. The chicks don't care where the heat comes from as long as they have heat when they need it. I use heat lamps but many people are scared of them. You can use heating pads or heat plates. People use other heating elements and methods. Whatever you do it needs to be installed safely. If you are looking at a heating plate is it big enough for 20 chicks? What temperatures are it rated for? You might want to check with the manufacturer to see what they recommend. If you make a heating pad cave, which are very popular on here, you want one that does not have an automatic shut-off and it needs to be a certain size. Don't use an old cracked one, cracked wires can cause a fire. There are little tricks with any of them on how to set them up safely, you might start a thread with the type you want to use to ask how to set it up. There is a lot of good experience on this forum.

Good luck!
Ok so this is the "all inclusive brooder" I have been checking,
brooder cage up to 23 at 5 weeks

I considered this hot plate that fit's up to 30 Hotplate up to 30 chicks If I do the outdoor thing.

I'm half way in my coop build (it needs one more weekend) and planing to finish the run around it before the chicks are home, I'm worried about the temperature since I'm in the mountains in high desert (when I say average I mean annually for April) so lows in the mid 20 at night and up to 70F in the warmest of the afternoon.

Honestly I don't want to have a lot of trouble with the chicks and I will spend money to avoid trouble when possible.
 

Battlepants

In the Brooder
Dec 13, 2021
17
29
41
We had some rubber mat puzzle pieces sitting around that I put together for a container. Threw a tarp under it to catch any potential leaks (in retrospect, this was unnecessary). Previous owner of the house left us a heat lamp. Broom handle propped up between two kitchen chairs with a string tied to the heat lamp - this was to be able to adjust the height of the lamp. Some weight plates in the base to keep the food and water elevated above the wood shavings.

Beyond that, it was just buying the chicks, some starter food, the bedding and a cheapo food and water dispenser. Just be sure to put some gravel in your water dispenser so they don't fall in!

But yea, a brooder just really is a container, preferably water resistant, that will keep your chicks near the heat, food and water while also giving them the ability to retreat from the heat as needed. Be imaginative with the resources that you have and you will probably create something functional!
 

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