Before we got our chickens, one of the biggest disagreements Cage Free Dad and I had about them was whether we should get chicks or try to find some grown laying hens to start out with. While I was excited at the idea of fresh yard eggs, I was leery about spending more money than necessary right off the bat. What can I say? I’m extremely frugal after years of doing so out of necessity. I knew that raising baby chicks required more equipment, such as heat lamps and a brooder, and I was already stressed about the money we were spending on wood for a coop. However, I guess I underestimated Cage Free Dad’s frugalness, though, because when he came home with the chicks (don’t worry, he had convinced me before he purchased them), I found the brooder he constructed while I was out. Pure genius.
Here I was thinking we needed a fancy, wood brooder for our chicks, and I come home to find that he has constructed a brooder out of some of our left-over produce boxes we’d saved from our move. So, as it turns out, you don’t need fancy chicken equipment to raise baby chicks. The size of this brooder is perfect for our 6 baby chicks. I imagine for a larger flock we’d need something bigger, but then, I don’t plan to have a larger flock until we are much more prepared!
If you’re considering baby chicks for the first time but don’t have the money for a nice wooden chicken brooder, creating one out of cardboard was almost free.
- 2 cardboard produces boxes (or similar strong boxes)
- pine shavings
- chicken wire
- chicken feeder
- heat lamp
- puppy “pee pads” to absorb some of the mess under the shavings.
The whole thing cost us maybe $20, and most of that cost was for things we’ll need as they grow anyway, such as pine shavings for the coop, the feeder and waterer. The pee pads were an after-thought, and we already had them due to house-training our new puppy, so we just put those under the pine shavings to keep the floor clean. So, all-in-all, we hardly spent any money on a brooder! I’ve seen some other great ideas since then on BYC, but I’d never considered anything so simple until I saw it.
Have you raised baby chicks? What type of brooder do you use?