My first choice is a broody hen but they don't always cooperate. I like to get my meat birds and new layers started early so I brood inside my cabin near the wood stove. I use a 50 gallon clear plastic storage bin so the chicks can see what's going on outside their little world. It helps them to be less frightened when you reach in or peak over the top. I use a poultry electrolyte supplement in the water for the first week, and I use a locally grown & milled chick starter. It's a complete feed with a higher protein percentage than the big brand names and cost less. I generate my own electricity with solar and a gas generator, so using a heat lamp 24 hours a day is not economical. The first year I waited until April to bring chicks home because I was worried about the weather when they finally went to their new coop. The person at the big box farm store educated me on what I needed to care for the chicks. When I told this person my brooding plan there was lots of eye rolling & sighing. The skeptical chicken expert insisted I buy a 250 watt red heat lamp & reflector (both made in China). I declined. This year I got chicks on February 24th and it's still plenty cold with lots of snow. If they seem a little chilled upon arrival I give them a good dose of heat with a Brinsea Ecoglow 50. If all seems fine, beaks are dipped and they're off and running doing what they do best (eating and pooping). I can say this.... I have not lost a single chick to date. They are kept near the wood stove and I wrap heated bricks in an old towel before bed or if I need to leave for an extended period of time. You can also use bottles or jugs filled with hot water. I'm not sure this can be done with just a few chicks, so I plan on at least 8, but usually end up with 20 or more. For the first week or so I get up in the middle of the night to swap the bricks out and load the wood stove. I try to keep the temperature near the brooder between 60-70 degrees. Some mornings I get up a little late and the temperature is in the 50's, the chicks huddle a little but are not piled up and are perfectly fine. The first year it was a little warm to be burning the wood stove all the time. Most nights I had to sleep with the windows open and a fan running. For me it's more comfortable to brood earlier in the year. Once fully feathered the layers are moved to the main coop. In this coop I have an enclosed area I use for a broody hen to hatch out her eggs. I put the layers in the brooder area so the rest of the flock can get used to them. When I'm comfortable everyone will get along, I let the layers join the flock. The meat birds are moved to an extra large grow out pen to fulfill their chicken destiny. This is my broody area in the main coop. It is 8' x 2' x 2'