Every couple of years we add a few chickens to our flock, most of the time we just use a plastic storage bin as a brooder because we only get a couple of chickens. This time was a little different. This time we got 12 chickens and needed more room, so I needed a way to build a cheap homemade DIY chicken brooder that would stay warm, and be roomy enough as the chicks got bigger.
After doing some research I found I had 3 options. I could turn the bathtub into a temporary chicken brooder, I could spend a couple hundred dollars on a premade brooder, or I could just make one myself for less than $50.
Because I didn’t want to spend that much money on something I will rarely use, and because Lisa wanted no part of turning the bathroom into a brooder, I decided to just bite the bullet and build one.
Building Your Chicken Brooder
This brooder is 39″ X 20″ X 2’ tall, but you can take these directions and make a chicken brooder of any size that fits your needs.
First let’s start with the supplies you will need, and then we’ll get into how to put this together. I am going to link to these on eBay, but all of this is available at Home Depot as well. You might even have some of this laying around your house which will save you even more money.
Estimated Time: 2 hours
Project Difficulty: Easy
Tools and Supplies Needed:
- Staple Gun and Staples
- Hammer or Cordless Drill
- Nails or Screws (8)
- Hardware Cloth 2ft X 5ft (X2) $7 Each
- 8ft 1 X 2 (X2) $2 Each
- 8ft 2 X 2 (x1) $2 Each
- 40 X 20 3/8 X 7 Plastic Storage Bin $22 Each
The cost of supplies (not including tools) will run you about $40 depending on where you live.
As you are building this keep in mind that the plastic storage bin, and the cage you are building are 2 separate pieces. because of this you want the cage to fit over top of the storage bin. I did this to make it easier to clean, and I can also take the top outside and use it for a chicken play pen on warm days.
Cage Dimensions: Because most of these bins are somewhat rounded you want to measure your width and length from the outer most part of the bin. In my case it was 39” long by 20” wide and I will be using these measurements as examples.
Cutting the Base and Top: Next you want to cut 4 pieces of 1X2 to 39” long and 4 pieces at 17” long. You need to cut them to 17” because each 1X2 is 1 1/2” wide and you don’t want them to overlap, so 20” – 1 ½” – 1 ½” = 17”
Next assemble the bottom and top of the box. Take 4 of the pieces you just cut out (2 of each) and staple them together to create a rectangle. Remember to put a few staples on both sided where the wood joins for stability.
Note: I ran out of 1 X 2’s so the top side rails pictured are 2 x 2’s, these directions are for 1 X 2 wood.
Cutting the Pillars: Once you have these 8 pieces cut and assembled (the top and bottom) you need the pillars of the box. I used 2 X 2’s for these because you will need to put a nail or screw the top and bottom into them and you don’t want them to split.
I wanted the cage to be a total of 2ft tall (bin included) so I placed the storage bin on a flat surface, placed the wooden rectangle I just made on top of it, and measured from the table to the top of the rectangle (In my case this was 7’) You also need to account for the width of the top rectangle which will be 5/8’
So to make this exactly 2ft tall I need to subtract 7” from 2’ and then 5/8” from that, giving you 16 3/8”
Next you need to attach the 4 pillars you cut to 16 3/8” to the top and bottoms of the box. I used screws because it’s a little awkward to pound nails into these, but if you do that make sure and drill a pilot hole a little smaller than the screw to prevent splitting.
Finishing the Cage: Once you have this done you should have a cube that is pretty sturdy and you’re ready to start stapling on the hardware cloth.
2 rolls (10ft) of hardware cloth was perfect for this chicken brooder and gave me a little extra to fold under to avoid sharp edges. Start on the top corner and start stapling across making sure to keep it straight.
Each roll will do 2 sides, so just finish one side, bend it around and finish the second side. Do the same thing with the second roll and you are all finished.
Keeping The Baby Chicks Warm
I found that covering 3 sides with towels keeps the inside temperature at just below 100° and leaves one side open so you can see the chicks, and give them ventilation. As the chicks get older they will not need as much heat and I can remove the towels when necessary.
As I said before, the great thing about this homemade chicken brooder is that when they get older I can take the cage outside, turn it upside down and introduce the new chickens to the old chickens without having to worry about them getting at each other.
Other Baby Chick Supplies
As far as what supplies you need for your chicks inside the brooder Lisa and I did this video about what we used…