Brooder Designs

After chicks hatch from the incubator they need to go right into a brooder. This is essentially a box with a heat lamp and no drafts. They need to stay in some sort of a brooder for a number of weeks.

Peeps keeping warm in a brooder

My goal with this hatching was to keep the chicks inside the house as long as possible, where they will stay warmer and draft-free. It is also easier to socialize them to people because they are on hand to be picked up and snuggled with throughout the day.

Major drawback: the dust! Imagine a dozen sets of wings flapping. Bedding and dander fly everywhere. Not a big deal in a barn, kind of yucky in the house. So with the inspiration from my Auntie Trish we built a better indoor brooder!

Trishs brooder. Cat is optional.

We used a 105 quart (99L) Sterilite brand tub measuring about 32″x19″x13″ for $10 at WalMart. Trish cut out most of the lid, screened it then used a blanket to regulate heat (above). My husband cut out a smaller hole a little larger than the heat lamp, added a wooden frame with screening sandwiched between, then added ventilation holes over the rest of the lid (below).

My brooder with wooden frame to hold heat lamp.

One really big benefit of this brooder is a simple 40-60 watt bulb is enough to reach the required 90° temperature that first week. In the barn I have to use a powerful/costly heat lamp bulb to achieve the same temp.

Here is the set-up with bedding, light, food and water.

This brooder is good for six chicks for three weeks, 12-15 chicks for two weeks, and so on. Trish could probably attest to banties being able to be kept in there longer or with greater numbers.

Trishs set-up...pretty sure these are all bantams.

Another option is to use an aquarium/terrarium with a wire lid. I briefly considered using an abandoned 55-gallon aquarium I have in my barn, then I realized how hard it would be to wash it because it is quite heavy. But a smaller one would be manageable. Here is a ten gallon in the photo below. It is small so will only work for a few days.

A ten gallon aquarium filled with sleepy peeps.

After a few weeks of pampering then the chicks are better equipped for the barn.

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3 Responses to Brooder Designs

  1. Dan says:

    Is that your cat sitting next to the chicks? My cat would be afraid of them. She might sit away from them and watch though. My Quaker taught her real quick to respect feathered critters. The only thing she knows to hurt or kill are mice and then I think they die laughing at her more than anything else.

    • Julie Helms says:

      No, that’s not my cat. That is my aunt Trish’s fluffy poofball. My much rangier looking cats would make a bite-size lunch of those peeps, so they aren’t allowed in the room with them.

  2. teamzuhl says:

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog! I’m a brand new coop builder, and hope to be a small flock owner in the spring. Thanks for the inspiration!

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