Which thing should I use for a brooder?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by pinebarrens, Jan 24, 2016.

  1. pinebarrens

    pinebarrens Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 13, 2015
    south NJ
    I'm planning on getting about 8 baby chicks in Feb or March. We're new to chickens, but have been a multi-pet household for a long time, so I happen to have several options available as I get ready to set up a brooder. Please, help me pick:

    1)Small-animal cage, 1x1/2 wire mesh, about 24"wide 30"long 18"high, with a 3"deep drop pan. Dog & cat secure, but maybe on the small side.

    2)Large small-animal cage, also 1x1/2 mesh, about 24"wide 30"long 36"tall, with multiple levels & ledges & ramps, 2"deep drop pan. Don't really know how or whether this would work with chicks.

    3)Wire dog crate, 28"wide 42"long 30"tall, no slide-in tray as for some reason our dog decided it would be a good idea to destroy that part. Concerned about what to put on the bottom and about keeping cat paws from "fishing" between the bars.

    4)Plastic Rubbermaid-type bins in various sizes.


    Whatever we do, I think the plan is for chicks to be in our basement until they feather out and move outside. I think we are probably going for a Mama Heating Pad setup (because I'm cheap and husband worries about fire.) Homemade chick feeder and waterer if I can work out how to make them. It's likely that whatever we keep them in, it is going to be opened and closed about a million times, since I doubt our kids will be able to resist playing with the chicks, and to be honest neither will I.
  2. JetCat

    JetCat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 26, 2015
    Southeast Alabama
    the rubbermaid bins work great for brooding.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2016
  3. AuntNomi

    AuntNomi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 13, 2015
    Callahan, Florida!
    When we first got our chickens we bought the feeders and waters at TSC. They are kinda pricey. And the waterers get really nasty IMO, even with me cleaning them out when I would refill. So I end up tossing them when they don't clean up well. So I got the big dog bowls from Dollar tree and I use them now cause they are so much cheaper. Just a thought I wanted to share.

    And the Rubbermaid bins work great!
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2016
  4. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    So pleased to hear you've decided on the MHP system for brooding! That's a terrific beginning!

    Now, at the risk of sounding like a radical, I totally threw out the concept of confining brooders this past year and set up a heating pad brooder in a chick pen right outside in my run. The main reason for this radical departure from the way I'd been brooding chicks for the past seven years was space. My baby chicks always seemed not to have enough space, even though I had perfected my brooder to include a double condo with windows cut into two cardboard boxes taped together with a pass-through. In spite of that, it quickly became too small.

    I would begin hauling the little tykes outside on nice days when they reached two weeks old, and let me tell, you, my heart would soar when I saw how much they appreciated the space to run and flex their tiny wings. Bringing them back indoors and stuffing them back into the confinement of their brooder was as sad a letdown for me as it was for them.

    Then Blooie discovered the heating pad system, posted the beginning of her gonzo thread, and it just triggered something in my head. Why not just set them up right outside where I know they really would like to be?

    My run is covered, and I left the protective weather panels up on the sides of the run where the chicks were going to be so they would be protected from drafts and rain blowing in. I set up their heating pad cave smack dab in the center of a fifty square foot safe pen. It was early May and the night temps were still in the 30s and the days weren't much above 50. Those chicks thrived!

    I always loved to play with my chicks in the brooder. Well, playing with them in a 50 square foot pen was even better! There was simply no downside! I liked it so well, four months later, I raised three more new chicks the same way, although I utilized a different pen since the previous chicks were still commanding the pen they were brooded in.

    The benefits are numerous, the biggest being they were accepted into the flock from the very beginning , and integration was a breeze. Even for chicks who have no adult chickens to cope with, moving from an indoor brooder outside to a coop and run can be a very stressful change. Chickens really hate change, so growing up right in the space where they will be living the rest of their lives is a real bonus!

    Give this some consideration. You won't regret it.
  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
  6. TLWR

    TLWR Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2010
    southern AL
    3. The dog kennel, put on saw horses or something to get the bottom of the kennel up to hip height for easier cleaning and so you are not approaching chicks from the top.
    They sell replacement pans for those. If not, snag some cardboard or a piece of plywood that you can cover so it doesn't get nasty.
    If cat paws are still an issue with it raised, use cardboard to line the edge of the kennel.
  7. TLWR

    TLWR Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2010
    southern AL
    I used the dog kennel for the ducklings
    cardboard around the edge and then some house wrap higher up to keep the breeze out since they were on my back patio.

    On sawhorses, it kept it up so I wasn't approaching them from above and kept nosy dogs not able to bother them
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I would also say brood them right in the coop if that's feasible for you. They'll have so much more space, you won't be breathing that dust [​IMG], and they're so fun to watch when they have all that room to play. They can only take, what 5 steps in a large tote before they're at the other side? Funniest thing to watch a chick suddenly start flapping it's little non-functional wings and take off running for no reason at all.....

    If that's not an option for you, I'd go with tubs, although you're going to need quite a large one or multiples to get chicks to fully feathered. Can you maybe find cardboard boxes to put together to add more space and only use one heating pad?
  9. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    8 chick will outgrow that dog kennel in just a couple weeks. Those chicks double in size every single week for the first 6 weeks. It's crazy how fast they go from having tons of room, to barely any space at all. If you can, brood them out in the coop.
  10. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    8 chicks would easily brood with no problems in the dog kennel. That is a good size space for up to 4 weeks. I've brooder much more in smaller space before. In that scenario I'd sell a bunch at 2 weeks of age so there was enough space to finish brooding before being put outside in pen.

    They do grow very fast. Make sure you will have the time to build a pen and coop or they will and often do outgrow the brooders on people. The other thing to note is your climate. Not knowing where you live I can't recommend a time to get chicks. Here in the North I wouldn't get chicks until 3rd week of march. That makes for fair spring weather in 4 weeks. Here chicks started any earlier might have to brood longer then space can be an issue or need a week of only coop time before weather breaks enough for grass instead of Nor'Easters.

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