DIY Chick Brooder

See below step by step instructions on how to build a cat proof DIY Chick Brooder for your baby chicks.  Please also consider enrolling in my new e-course! E-course | Chicken Keeping Basics | Order Now!

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Baby Chicks need 3 things:

#1 A Safe Place to Live

In preparation for my first flock of chicks I built this DIY chick brooder.  I had no idea what to expect or how fast my chicks would grow but this was quite sufficient for the first 3 weeks.  I searched for the largest tote I could find and settled on a Rubbermaid 50 gal tote
First step was to cut the middle section out of the top and secured hardware cloth to it with screws and bolts.  We have a cat and I wanted to make sure the top could not be knocked off during the night.  All I could think of is how horrified my kids would be if we woke up to a mass murder of baby chicks!

#2 Food and Clean Water

Next came the set up of the food and water.  I knew I wanted my chickens to have some type of nipple-type water system that would stay clean and not need to be changed every day.  This Make your own waterer kit from Amazon seemed like the way to go.  Reviews said they hardly leaked and I liked the idea of the little platform that catches the drips if they're not drank right away.  I bought the nipples separately and a food grade 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot.  Assembly was quite simple.  A smaller version out of an orange juice container was perfect for use in the brooder so they would be used to drinking from it right away. (See my posts about  Chicken Feed Storage and Automatic Chicken Feeder for use in the big coop)

#3 Heat

I used dollar store pee pads to line the bottom of the box and non slip shelf liner to prevent spraddle leg.  I also read so many horrifying articles about fired from heat lamps so I invested in a Brinsea Ecoglow.  So glad I did!  I never worried about the chicks getting too hot or something in the brooder catching on fire.  The chicks huddled under it just like they would under the Mama hen.  It also helped them regulate their schedules and know when it was sleeping time since they didn't have a red light keeping them awake.
All set for them to arrive!  I ordered my chicks from and I'm so glad I did!  The chicks arrived happy and healthy packed cozily in a breathable box lined with straw and warming packs. They have all grown into beautiful chickens and I can tell they are quality chickens.

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Rebecca Beauchemin

Rebecca is a mom, wife, real estate broker, decorator, party planner, chicken keeper, and gardener


  • Christa

    How many chicks did u have. And where did u get the light from. How many chicks is that sufficient for

    • beriel79

      I had 10 at that time. They outgrew this in about 2-3 weeks. I never use a light in my brooder. I use a heater called the Brinsea ecoglow. The chicks huddle under it like a mama hen and I don’t worry about my house burning down. Win-win!

  • Laura

    Thanks much for posting this – we’re using this as the design for ours. We went ahead and ordered a Brinsea ecoglow. Question for you – in the smaller water bottle, in the brooder, that’s an upside down OJ bottle – what is the red base you have it sitting in? Also – in the feeder and roosting bar pictures, what’s the wooden thing at the bottom? Thank you.

    • beriel79

      Yes its an OJ container with the red poultry nipples you can buy on amazon. The base is the bottom part of one of the regular waterers. It keeps it elevated so it stays cleaner. The lower piece of wood is another roosting bar.

  • Sheri L Walls

    Thank you for sharing this! I just ordered my first chicks (to be delivered in a couple of months) and am looking at preparing a brooder. Did you keep the chicks in your house? If so, were they noisy? Once they outgrew this box, did you put them in a coop directly, or did they move “up” to a bigger contained area?

    • beriel79

      Yes I always keep my chicks in the house. They do get a little noisy but if it’s dark they settle down so they are not noisy at night.
      Depending on the number of chicks you have they outgrow this around week 3 to 4. I have another place in my coop where I can separate them from the big girls so they can get to know each other. I use the same eco glow heater in the coop so they are warm enough at night.

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