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Well, it’s been about 3 weeks since we got our chicks, and they love their DIY chick brooder!! This DIY chick brooder is super simple to make and can accommodate up to 15 chicks. If this is your first time raising chicks, I suggest you read this post! It answers your top 15 questions.
I was super excited to finally have chicks, it’s something that I’ve been wanting for a while. But let me tell you, I was a little nervous to hold one! Is that crazy? I think it’s because I was afraid to crush them. But since then, I have held them, and it melts my heart. Now I am trying not to get too connected to the chicks because we’re not sure which ones will be meat birds and with ones will be egg birds.
When we went to pick up the chicks from a local Kijiji farmer, we had brought a little Rubbermaid bin, but we soon realized that that was not going to cut it for 15 chicks. The next day we went to work and expanded the chick brooder.
If you’re deciding on what breed to get, read this post here where I go through the best breeds for eggs and meat.
Our DIY Chick Brooder
Container & Bedding
We decided to attach two bins together so the chicks could have more space. The grinder was the obvious tool, we cut out each side and then duck taped them together. The two bins we used were 50L and 189L. Fill your chick brooder with pine shavings, as cedar is harmful to chicks. Fill up to 8″ and you probably will only need to change once. Also, be sure to take little pieces of cardboard in each corner to prevent crowding (where chicks get squished).
You want the chicks to be able to get air, see you, hear you, and get sunlight! To add an open lid to your Rubbermaid, all you need to do is cut a large hole in the lid of the bin, and then cut a piece of chicken wire just a little bigger and duck tape on top. Super easy!
Water & Feed
Get a large glass mason jar and one of these for water, and you’ll be all set for the first 5 weeks. Try putting apple cider vinegar in their water, and garlic! It helps keep them healthy and prevent pests when they eventually go out into their coop. We also got a similar base and plastic top for their feed. We are feeding the chicks Homestead Organics chick starter feed, be sure to get chick starter, not layer. Another note to make is to raise your water and feed. This prevents them from pooping in it. Grit is another thing you’re going to want to add in there, just a little plastic container. Grit essentially is little rocks that help the chicks digest their food. You can get that the same place you get your feed.
There are lots of heat options for your chick brooder, but I think if done properly the lamp is the more cost-effective and easiest solution. We got this metal lamp and a red bulb that was 100 watt. They are totally fine with just this! When we finally moved their bin to the garage, we added a second heat lamp. Just watch the birds, if they’re super cold they will be all huddled together, and if they’re hot, they will be sprawled out.
Chicks love to perch, it’s where they sleep! You can make them out of anything, dowels, 2×2, sticks, etc. We made ours with a 2×4 base and a leftover piece of 1/4 round we had. That was good when they were small, but soon after we added a piece of real branch that my husband screwed together. They love it!
Why We Choose a Rubbermaid
There was probably a prettier way to build this chick brooder, but we wanted it to be low cost, large, lightweight and mobile. We didn’t want to build it in our garage because it was just too cold at the beginning, so we wanted it to be able to fit in our dining room.
In the future though, we plan to insulate our garage and then we can build a more permanent chick brooder made of plywood.
Have any more questions about chick brooder? Let me know in the comments.