Farm Life

How to Make a Brooder on a Budget

We spent our Saturday preparing for thirteen babies that are set to arrive tomorrow morning. Not human babies, thank goodness. We prefer our babies small, yellow, and chirpy!

Originally, we were going to be bringing Barred Rock chicks home, but something went awry with that plan and now we will be getting Red Star chicks instead. These will look just like Reba when they are full grown.

This is all part of a 4-H project within Lexie’s Poultry Club. We will bring home day-old chicks, raise them into pullets, and then take our five best hens to the 4-H fair to show and sell in August. The other nine will be ours to keep.

We’ve had our six hens for a year now, but when we brought them home, they were old enough that we could send them straight out to the coop. We’ve never raised chicks this small, so it’s going to be a learning experience. Hopefully, there will be no casualties in the process.

How To Make A Brooder On A Budget

How To Make A Brooder On A Budget

It was a team effort putting the chicks’ brooder together. We wanted to do it on a budget, so what you see here is probably not typical, but it’s cheap. And that’s how we like it.

We had originally planned to set up the brooder in our empty dining room, but with the remodel going on, our dining room has morphed into somewhat of a storage facility, so that option was out. The only other room downstairs with floors I don’t mind getting messy is the bathroom, so the bathroom it is!

How To Make A Brooder On A Budget

We put the entire brooder together for just $40, including food and pine shavings, using a few store-bought supplies as well as things we already had around the house.

Speaking of using things around the house – it looks like I’ll only be taking handheld shots for the next six weeks because my camera tripod is currently doubling as a heat lamp stand. Cory has it rigged with a rope so that as the chicks need less heat every week, we can just tighten up the slack on the rope and bring the lamp up higher.

How To Make A Brooder On A Budget

The plastic bin we bought for the brooder is from Walmart. We bought two so that when we’re cleaning one, there will still be another to keep the chicks in. A lot of people use rabbit cages because they are easy to get in and out of, but I’d prefer to protect our babies from drafts (and keep all the pine shavings inside the box) – I’m hoping the plastic sides will help a little with that.

Cory made a top for the brooder that you can see against the wall in the picture above of Lexie. He used old, discarded door trim to make the frame, and then ran chicken wire through the opening. We won’t need the top for the first couple of weeks, but definitely will around the third week when they learn to fly. Chasing chicks around the house is not what I intend on doing with my time.

I borrowed feeders and waterers from my friend, Anne, and set a 5-gallon lid underneath the waterer that will hopefully help keep the pine shavings a little more dry. As the chicks get bigger, I may have to remove that to give them more space to roam, but it’ll be fine for now.

Besides the plastic bins and the heat lamp, the only other things we had to buy for the chicks were starter feed and pine shavings. Our brooder may not be the prettiest, but it’ll work just the same. Our chicks arrive first thing Monday morning, so if you’re looking for me this week, I’ll be hovering over the brooder in the bathroom making sure everyone is alive and well!

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  • Jenn Bowers
    March 22, 2012 at 4:21 AM

    Looks like a great set up to me! That’s how most people around here do it. I however will be setting my brooder up in our pole barn. I’m just not up for having them in the house. I have enough chaos with my 4 children and I’m pretty sure the cats would try all their tricks to get at the chicks!

  • Mrs. Pancakes
    March 22, 2012 at 12:20 AM

    That’s totally fun!!!

  • Janette Johanson
    March 20, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    How can I join the 4H club without being a student!? I think this is so cool!!! I want chicks!! Chirp CHIRP!!

    Gosh, especially this time of year when you can do Easter pictures with them running amok! AHHHHHHH.. reminds me of the time I took Ryan when he was maybe 6 months old and just learning to sit up to have a photo session with baby chicks– poor chicks almost lost their wings! IT was more cute than anything— NO CHICKS WERE HARMED or DISMEMBERED. :)

  • Connie Weiss
    March 20, 2012 at 4:43 AM

    I think it looks great!

    Can’t wait to see them.

  • Nicole
    March 20, 2012 at 4:09 AM

    Man, Cory sure is handy to have around the house! Can’t wait to see pics of the cute, cuddly little guys!

  • Xazmin
    March 20, 2012 at 3:12 AM

    What a fun adventure!

    I look forward to reading how it goes.

    And doing projects on a budget is my favorite way!

  • Jodie
    March 20, 2012 at 2:18 AM

    How suppppper fun!! Can’t wait to see the pictures of the cuties!!

  • Alyx
    March 19, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    Aww, how fun! I can’t wait to see pictures of the little chickies!

  • Mrs. Match
    March 19, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    Baby chicks!! Oh how much fun my brother and I had raising baby chicks when we were little. I think we probably over handled them. We had a few who followed us everywhere like puppies. You guys are going to have a blast!

  • Amy
    March 19, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    I was just thinking about this the other day!! I was wondering how you and your little brood were managing. And now I see that your family is growing! :)

    Looking forward to the pics! :)

  • stephanie
    March 19, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    I raised chicks. I kept them the first few days in my bathroom much to my mom’s dismay :) then I moved them out to a coop in my dads garage. years later and I can still smell their ammonia like aroma :(

  • Macey
    March 19, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    We had chicks hatch and raised them when I was a kid. They were fun!

  • Kerry
    March 19, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    How exciting is that! And great job on the little chicken coop for them whilst they’re staying in your bathroom :) Very clever idea with the rope and the tripod (good thinking Cory!)

    What you are doing is giving Lexie such an awesome experience that she will love and always remember!! You’re such a good mummy, I just know those little chicks will be in good hands xo