How to Make a Cheap Brooder

Our 15 chicks are here!! And we’re ready for them.

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We had our brooder all set up and ready to go.  We only bought a few special chicken things.  The majority of what we used to build the brooder was things that we hadd around the house.

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The base of our brooder was a kiddie pool.  We found this along the side of the road.  Yay for free things!! Your base should not have any corners.  The baby chicks could get crowded in a corner and be smooshed to death.  As most prefer their chicks alive and unsmooshed, please use a brooder with rounded sides.

Our live birds will want to be warm.  After all, at the beginning of their lives, they are designed to live in the warm protection of a mother hen.  That’s why a good source of heat is super important.  We used old heat lamps my husband had for his snake.  We hung two up as we had so many chicks to keep warm.  The older the babies get, the less they need a heat source.  Therefore as the chicks age, we are slowly lifting the heat lamps higher.  This is essentially the same as turning the heat down.  A rule of thumb: if the chicks are all huddled together under the heat source, they are cold and need more heat.  If they are spread out away from the heat source, you have too much heat.

Being that the chicks are living beings, they need food and water.  I purchased the waterer and feeder.  No creative solutions here, but plenty exist.  I bought regular chick feed and use water from our faucet.  When you first get the chicks out of the box they come in, make sure you show them where their water is by gently dipping their beaks.

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Finally, we bought pine shavings for their bedding.  Pine shavings are slightly acidic which helps keep the stinkiness factor to a minimum.  You can use almost any sort of bedding, but being that the chicks are living in my basement, I spring for the good stuff.  DO NOT lay newspaper down flat, it is too slippery and the babies will hurt their legs.  DO NOT use cedar shavings, this will hurt their lungs.  Make sure you change their bedding on a fairly regular basis.

As they get older, they start to get a bit flighty.  At that point, the sides of our baby pool are not high enough to keep the girls in.  We take some old fencing and place it around the perimeter of the pool.

This whole set up took us less than 15 minutes.  And the best part is that everything is reusable with the exception of the pine shavings.

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