A Brooder Doesn’t Need To Be Fancy – Just Functional
My brooder is nothing more than a cardboard box, 10ft long 3ft. wide, and 16′ high. If your box isn’t high enough you can easily attach additional cardboard to the sides using zip ties.
Duct tape and zip ties are my friend, be creative, you’ll be amazed what you can build with what was once considered junk in the garage or shed.
I found some leftover ceramic floor tiles in the garage and used them to line the bottom of the brooder. Newspaper on top of any flooring will help make cleanup easier. Pine shaving are expensive so as an alternative I use shredded paper saved from my home shredder. However, for the first week I use only paper towels on the bottom so food sources are not confusing to the chicks.
I use a few bricks to build a platform in the center of the brooder where their feeder sets, and the same for the drinker in one corner of the brooder. Day old chicks will have no problem accessing their food and water sources if both are raised, this limits feed waste and helps keep the water clean.
Chicken wire simply laid over the top of the brooder will be sufficient in confining them. They have little interest in escaping, but can spook easily when disturbed by basic brooder chores, so better safe than sorry.
The heat lamp is best situated at one end of the brooder, it’s important to have sufficient space for your chicks to find their comfort zone. It’s a good idea to have a thermometer at both ends of the brooder, but if you watch your chicks behavior it’s quite obvious when they are cold or hot.
When they’re cold they will all huddle together under the heat lamp, when hot they’ll lie down holding their wings away from their body. Somewhere in between is where you want to keep your babies, just watch them, they’ll be quick to inform you of a problem.