Raising chicks? Here are 3 simple ideas for making a DIY chick brooder to keep your baby chickens safe and warm!
So you’ve taken the plunge and purchased your first batch of chicks… Welcome to the world of chicken keeping! But don’t drift away just yet into the visions of fresh eggs dancing in your head… First, you have to make sure your little babies have a warm, safe place to live when you get them home! Unless your chicks were hatched by a broody hen of your own who can take care of them, you will need a chick brooder to keep them healthy and safe until they are big enough to make it on their own.
Chicks are very sensitive to cold temperatures, and one of the most important factors is keeping them warm enough until they put on weight and grow adult feathers and can maintain their own body heat. Until then, a chick brooder is the best way to go. You can purchase chick brooders, but it is super easy and cheap to make one yourself.
There are lots of different things you can use as a chick brooder, as long as it can keep out drafts, and you can easily add a safe heat source, food, water, and bedding. You can build a simple box out of wood scraps and plywood, or use an old tub or other container.
Below are 3 super simple and easy ideas for making your own DIY chick brooder, from ThePrairieHomestead.com:
1. Stock Tanks (New or Repurposed)
Cost: $60-$200, depending on the size.
This is probably my favorite quick brooder option and the one we’ve used the most over the years. You can use either new tanks or repurpose old ones that leak and no longer work for holding water. Sprinkle some shavings in the bottom, add heat, and you are good to go. I also appreciate that I can haul the tanks out of the coop on sunny days, given them a good scrub, and let them dry in the sun. Sometimes you can even find old stock tanks at auctions or farm & ranch Facebook groups that will save you some cash.
2. Plastic or Rubbermaid Tubs
A large plastic storage tote makes a quick brooder if you’re in a hurry. To keep chicks safe from cats, dogs, or inquisitive children, you can cut windows in the lid and cover the holes with wire mesh. Otherwise, if that’s not a concern, the lid can be left off entirely as long as the sides are high enough that the chicks can’t jump out.
If you have more than a handful of chicks, they’ll outgrow the tub within a couple weeks, but it’s good place to start if you’re in a hurry. (Or just use multiple tub brooders if you have a bunch of chicks.)
3. Kiddie Pool
The one drawback to using a kiddie pool is that the sides are short and it’s very easy for chicks to jump out, which can be deadly if they can’t figure out how to get back to the heat. Therefore, if you plan to use a pool, you will need to build taller sides for it by either surrounding it with cardboard or by using chicken wire. Otherwise, it’s a quick option that you can put together quickly if you’re in a hurry.
(Please Note: Next week is our Spring Blogging Break Week, so we will not be posting – but be sure to check back the following week for more helpful sustainable living tips – and in the meantime, check out our Facebook page for lots of useful info on living a greener and more self-sufficient lifestyle!)