I am convinced that the outside brooder is the way for us to go. We are going to use a spare metal dog crate that I think will be perfect. I was going to attach some hardware cloth or chicken wire around the sides to prevent escapees. As far as the heating element goes, I have read on the heating pad cave solution and I like that. I was wondering though, would a seedling mat (used for sprouting seeds) work in place of the heating pad? My thought is to put it under the chicks instead of on top. Of course the chicks would not be directly on top of it... it would work similar to in floor heat.. any thoughts?