Chicks aren't in the brooder for long so I don't see the point in putting a lot of time and money into something that is only used for about six weeks. There are many ways to make an easy brooder for your chicks, I'm going to share my favorites.
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Making a Cheap & Easy Brooder for Chicks
I prefer to put more energy, time, and money into their main coop than into a brooder. There are two main things to keep in mind when you start planning a brooder.
- The first thing to think about is how big your birds are going to be at about 5-6 weeks.
- The other thing to think about is how many chicks you are going to be brooding.
This is our preferred method. We have four different totes, all different sizes for the different chicks we raise. We'll even start them in a smaller tote and then size up the tote as they grow.
We make brooder covers by cutting out the center of the tote lid and lining it with wire mesh.
However, you can also just lay stiff wire mesh or even a cooling rack on top of your tote and fix it in place with zip ties or a weight. Then, you can still use your tote and intact lid for other purposes when your chicks are raised.
One great thing about using totes is that you can stack smaller totes on top of a large tote to save room as well.
An Old Playpen
A collapsible playpen makes for a great way to repurpose baby care supplies on the homestead. Using plastic sheeting, like a paint tarp, protects the fabric and makes brooder clean-up easier. You could also repurpose old shavings or feed bags for the lining as well.
I have used an old playpen for our Standard Brahma chicks. They grow fast and big and the playpen gave them lots of room. You may want to use a crib sheet or such to cover the top and keep them from flying out once they are bigger.
Bonus: they take up little room when storing.
You can also use a kiddie pool as your base, then wrap cardboard around the edges of the pool to make the sides contain the chicks. You could also wrap the pool with plastic lattice panels or scrap small grid fencing instead of cardboard for the sides.
The pool could later be used to make a dust bath if you want to make one for your run. Or bathing your dogs, etc.