Homemade Brooder Ideas

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by mandelyn, Jan 3, 2010.

  1. mandelyn

    mandelyn Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 30, 2009
    Mt Repose, OH
    My Coop
    I think most of us have made our own brooders. I was just going through the Brooder photo sticky, and most of the images were gone unless you started backwards. [​IMG]

    What are some of the materials you all used?

    What household items or furniture did you use that required minimal putting-together?

    What do you think would make a great brooder?

    Post pics if you got'em!

    Brooder Basics:

    2ft sides or a screened lid

    Heat source that will keep them above 90F and below 100F for the first 2 weeks, and the ability to reduce the heat later on.

    Food/Water supply

    Air flow, allow fresh air, but no drafts.

    Enough room for the number of chicks you expect until they are 6 weeks old, if weather says they need to brood longer, allow for more space, or "Grow-out" room.

    Mine is an old wooden toy chest. I took the lid off, since it wouldn't allow for airflow, and it would get too hot. I used a shorter length of wood so that heat could escape to the desired level.

    My heat source is a 60w bulb on a mechanics fixture, the caged front and solid metal back, it works well inside the brooder as opposed to the round heat lamp fixture that's best on top of the brooder directing heat downwards.

    I set the box on an old desk, to make it accessible without bending over.


    The food and water I keep away from the heat, so that there is a warm sleeping area, and a cooler zone for eating/drinking and a space in the middle for those silly rooster chick "fights" and room to exercise.


    I have a piece of furniture, a cabinet on legs, that has sliding doors on the front. I thought it would be cool to cut a hole in the top of it for the heat lamp, and replace the wooden doors with plexi-glass, one of which would have holes for air flow. The end result would be "furniture" with a chick viewing window front.

    Shipping crates are neat too, my dad works for a luxury auto dealership, and when they get large parts in that are internationally shipped, they come in these awesome wooden boxes. He brought one home that I broke apart and used to make a shade in the chicken run, shaped like a pup-tent. There's another that would make a great brooder, being 3ftx3ftx2ft. All it needs is a lid cut to size, hinges, and mesh to finish the lid out. It wouldn't hurt to call around to local dealerships service desks and ask if they have any big wooden shipping crates, since all they do is chuck them into a dumpster.

    You can also take apart wooden pallets to use as pre-cut boards to make a frame.

    You could purchase large plastic totes to use as well. There was a neat green one in the brooder sticky that had the lid cut out and replaced with mesh, but the lid edges could still snap on and off, making a neat lid. The bonus of the plastic totes are easy cleaning, and could also be used for a transport container. Plus no power tools would be needed to alter it for chick brooder use.

    Occasionally CL will have reptile habitats for sale. The home-made types are a wooden box, with glass or plexiglass fronts, and a light fixture. They're designed to keep the lizard/snake/or whichever warm and draft free. After a thorough cleaning if it had been used, it would be great for baby chicks. Just add bedding, food, and water. The decent sized ones I've seen go for around $75. Cheaper than building one yourself, and they usually come with the heat lamp already wired in.

    A large fishtank could work too, the heat source would keep the moisture level down. The only draw-back to a fishtank is that they are designed to keep moisture in, and if the sides are too high, venitilation can be an issue. When looking at tanks, go for ones marked "Long" instead of "tall"... this will also increase your floor space, since you're only using the bottom. A 70 gallon Long will have larger floor space than a 70 gallon Tall. You'll want to place your heat source below the upper rim of the tank, to keep the moisture down, unless it's a massive tank with the whole top screened. Use a hydrometer if you're not sure of the humidity levels. Use it in the room first, then use it in the tank, to see how big of a difference there is.

    If you're a yardsale fan, keep your eyes open for box-shaped things, or cages, or anything that could be easily altered to fit your needs. I paid $5 for the wooden toy chest I use... MUCH cheaper than the sheet of plywood needed to make one like it, and it was "instant gratification"... no building. I do need to cut the lid to put screen in it, and re-attach it with the hinges, to make it a proper brooder. But the eggs hatched before I got around to it.

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