It’s springtime and that means it’s baby chick season! Like so many others we started off by raising our chicks in the bathtub until they we’re able to be integrated in with our chickens in their coop. However, our 5 chicks turned out to be much louder than we expected causing a few sleepless nights. So it was time to build a brooder and get back to some well needed sleep.
No one likes cleaning up the messes left behind by our animals (check out our rabbit hutches with automatic poop collector) and this chicken brooder was no different. That’s why we put some of those old feed bags to use as a way to collect their poop and other messes that we could then remove and put directly into our gardens. This was a fairly simple project to build and this is how we did it.
We first started by building this table base using 2×2’s and 4×4’s for the legs which are 2′ high. The cross members are 15″ long and are spaced 4″ apart from one another. The overall length of the table base was about 68″ however you can build it to any length you desire. Simply just keep adding 4″ sections to fit another feed bag. Supports for the table were added using 2×2’s to keep the legs from moving while also adding support for the bottom of the feed bags as they gain in weight.
Next we built the base of the brooder the exact same size as the support table and the 4 walls using the same 2×2 construction. Once the base, or floor framing, of the brooder was complete we stapled 1/2×1/2″ wire mesh which was small enough holes to allow their poop to fall through into the bags but still be easy on the chicks feet. The walls were built using 15″ vertical supports just like the table base which helps make the project go quickly. After the walls were built, they were assembled onto the base. For the top we made 2 separate lids instead of 1 large one that were hinged in the back for easier lifting. The lids and a window in the front were also screen in with 1/2″ wire mesh as well.
We had some leftover 1/8″ plywood left over from our sons playhouse project and decided to use that for the walls. However, once it was up we just thought that the brooder lost some of its character, so we decided to skin the outside of the brooder in old pallet slats we had just laying around.
Once the brooder was complete it was time to cut our feed bags down to size and insert them into the support table. It is important to note that the brooder IS NOT SECURED TO THE TABLE BASE. It was left unattached for two reasons: 1 so we could set it in the yard as a bunny tractor later and 2: it needs to be removed to access the manure filled feed bags.
In regards to the feed bags, we simply stapled them into place on the table base. However, we have plans to sew Velcro to the tops of the bags and line the inside lip of the cross members with the coarser side for easier set up and removal of the feed bags.
The rest of the project was simply cosmetic. We added handles to the 2 lids buy screwing pieces of an old branch from the property into the lids. We also put a branch in with the chicks as something for them to practice roosting on. Finally, their food was suspended from a roof cross member of the brooder to keep the chicks from wasting so much food by scratching at their feeder.
This was such a fun project for us to make and the chicks seem to love their new home. We think it looks pretty cool as well, but you be the judge.