Whether you’re a first-time chicken farmer looking to raise your chicks from scratch or you’re a seasoned poultry keeper and need more space to accommodate a new batch of chicks, learning how to build a brooder is worthwhile.

However, there are a few things you must know to ensure that your brooder is safe, comfortable, and meets the needs of your chicks.

diy chick brooder

In this guide, you will learn all you need to know about chick brooders, factors you should consider when designing a chick brooder, and how to create a DIY chick brooder yourself.

That’s not all. You’ll also find tips on how to maintain your chick brooders.

Are you ready to find out which DIY chick brooder design best suits your needs? Then, continue reading.

What Should You Know About a Chick Brooder?

Before we discuss how you can build your chick brooder, let’s discuss what chick brooders are.

A chick brooder is simply an “artificial mother hen” that keeps newly hatched chicks warm and safe in the first few weeks of life.

Brooding provides a warm shelter for young animals, especially chicks, to promote their growth and make them healthy during their early stage.

The brooding process lasts 3-6 weeks until the chicks can be transferred to a larger coop or an outdoor enclosure. Factors like seasonal temperatures and the type of brooder affect the brooding period.

Chicks are as fragile and delicate as they are cute; thus, they require careful handling in their early stages.

In addition to careful handling, chicks need proper nutrition, a good and constant water source, and a warm shelter. And these are the building blocks of a good chick brooder box.

Now, why do you need a chick brooder?

Why Do You Need a Chick Brooder?

Newly hatched chicks are not only fragile, but they are also vulnerable to predators, diseases, and temperature and weather changes. Hence, you must make the necessary arrangements to ensure their well-being.

So, if it’s your first time taking in chicks, and you do not know why you need a chick brooder, here are some reasons to convince you:

  1. Warmth: Chicks need a warm environment to thrive; the ideal temperature range is between 93– 95 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week of life. However, chicks cannot regulate their body temperature by themselves until they are much older. So, the brooder helps them with heat regulation because exposing chicks to damp, windy, or cold conditions can make them sick or even kill them. And that is why your brooder should have a thermometer.
  2. Protection: Chicks are easy prey to predators like cats, dogs, and some birds of prey, all of which threaten their survival. So, providing a secure chick brooder box will keep them safe from these predators.
  3. Food and Water: Having a brooder makes the provision of clean and fresh food and water, which is essential for the chicks’ proper growth and development, possible and easy. Moreover, several diseases can be transmitted to chicks through contaminated feed or water. So, you do not want to get it wrong.
  4. Socialization: A chick brooder allows you to interact with the chicks from an early age, which can help socialize them and make them friendlier and easier to handle as they grow.

Overall, having a chick brooder box gives you more control over your chicks’ well-being and development. That is, you get to influence factors that affect their growth, namely, temperature, lighting, and ventilation.

Why Homemade or DIY Chick Brooder Box?

Now that you know why you need a chick brooder, it is good that we consider the advantages of a do-it-yourself or homemade chick brooder. Using a DIY chick brooder has several advantages, some of which are listed below:

  1. Cost-effective: Regarding costs, a DIY chicken brooder box is a better alternative to commercial brooders because you can use readily available materials. This helps reduce your expenses and allows you to adjust the design to suit your budget and needs.
  2. Customizable: Unlike commercial brooders, you could customize a homemade brooder to fit the specific needs of your chicks. Essentially, a DIY brooder design also allows you to design based on the number of chicks you have, available space, your desired size and shape, and the specific environmental conditions.
  3. Sustainable: Another advantage of a homemade brooder is that you can use recycled or repurposed materials to build your chick brooder, thus reducing waste and promoting sustainability.
  4. Educational: Besides the advantages mentioned above, learning to build your chick brooder can be fun and educational. In fact, it provides an opportunity to learn about basic engineering principles and animal husbandry.

A homemade chick brooder option can be a practical, cost-effective, and rewarding solution for raising healthy and happy chicks. With careful planning and attention to detail, you can create a safe and comfortable environment for your chicks to grow and develop.

Factors to Consider when Building a Diy Chick Brooder Box

Before you build/design a DIY chick brooder box, several factors must be considered to ensure the chicks are safe, healthy, and comfortable. However, here are some important factors that you should keep in mind:

Number of Chicks

You must know the number of chicks before you start designing. The space requirement for each chick is around 6 – 7 square inches of brooder space, though this may vary for different chicken breeds.

Therefore, your chick brooder size should be large enough to accommodate the number of chicks you have and allow enough room to move around without hassle, preventing suffocation and crowding.

Easy Cleaning

You don’t want a brooder box that will be so difficult, especially considering that you’ll need to clean it often (once a week). So, the brooder box should be easy to clean and sanitize to prevent the build-up of bacteria and disease.


Another factor to consider when designing/building a chicken brooder is how safe it is. The brooder box should be secure and safe to prevent the chicks from escaping or being injured.

Ensure you use sturdy and non-toxic materials. You should also avoid sharp edges or loose wires that could harm the chicks.


You should pay attention to the materials available to you when building a brooder box. Most importantly, the materials must guarantee the safety of your chicks.

Ensure you use sturdy materials to avoid any forms of damage. Also, materials with rounded edges, like galvanized stock tanks, are preferred because their minimally tight corners discourage suffocation.

Some common materials used for building chick brooders include wood, plastic, wire mesh, and corrugated plastic.

These materials are often readily available at hardware stores or online retailers.


Cost is a factor to consider when building a DIY chick brooder box, as it can influence the materials and design of the brooder box.

If you’re on a tight budget, you may need to find ways to reduce the cost of building the brooder box. For example, you could use inexpensive materials or repurpose items you already have at home to create the brooder box.

Another way to reduce the cost of building a chick brooder is to keep the design simple and avoid adding unnecessary features. However, if you’re on a larger budget, you may invest in higher-quality materials and additional features.

A List of Must-haves for Chick Brooder Boxes

Several features are necessary for a chick brooder to function properly. Below you have a list of some key features to consider when building or selecting a chick brooder box:

Heat Source

The heating source in a brooder is essential for the health and survival of chicks, especially during the first few weeks of life. Without a reliable heat source, chicks risk developing hypothermia (lower-than-normal temperature levels) or other health problems, which can lead to stunted growth, weakened immune systems, and even death.

Some heaters, such as space heaters, warm the air in the poultry, while others, like infrared heat lamps, primarily heat the birds and floor, leaving other areas relatively cool.

Both types of heaters are employed. However, the floor temperatures are essential for chicks about two weeks old, so infrared heat lamps are preferred. The infrared heat lamp is also ideal for warming a small number of chicks, say 200 or less.

Whatever the heat source, it should be safe, reliable, and easy to regulate to ensure the chicks remain at optimal temperatures.


Proper ventilation is crucial for the health and well-being of chicks in a brooder.

Good ventilation helps to regulate temperature and humidity inside the brooder, prevent the build-up of harmful gasses and bacteria, and promote healthy respiratory function for the chicks.

Adequate ventilation can also help to prevent common problems like pasty butt, a condition where chicks develop a build-up of fecal matter that can block their vents and lead to infections.

Bedding Material

The bedding material in a chick brooder is vital for providing a soft and comfortable surface for the chicks to rest and move on. A good bedding material should absorb moisture from the poultry house, prevent the build-up of infection and provide insulation during cold weather.

Common bedding materials include pine shavings, straw, hay, and paper towels. Avoid using flat cardboard or newspaper as they are not absorbent and may cause leg deformities. If you must use newspaper or cardboard at the bottom, ensure you add bedding layered on top.

You should also avoid treated wood because they contain toxic chemicals.

Additionally, it is important that you clean and change the bedding material regularly to maintain a healthy and sanitary environment.

Food and Water

Chicks also require a nutritious diet high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Water is also essential as it helps to regulate body temperature, aids in digestion, and keeps the chicks hydrated.

Dehydration can be a serious problem for young chicks, and they can quickly become sick or even die without access to water.

5 DIY Chick Brooders Design Ideas

Brooders come in various sizes and designs, depending on the number of chicks housed and available space. They can be made from cardboard boxes, plastic tubs, wire cages, or other materials, and can be purchased or made at home.

Cardboard Box Brooder

Materials required:

  • Large cardboard box (at least 18 inches high)
  • Box cutter or scissors
  • Duct tape
  • Old newspaper or paper towels
  • Shredded paper or pine shavings for bedding
  • Heat source (like a heat lamp or ceramic heat emitter)
  • Thermometer to monitor temperature
  • Chick feed and waterer

How to build:

  1. Cut a rectangular opening on one side of the cardboard box. This will serve as the entrance to the brooder.
  2. Line the bottom of the box with old newspapers or paper towels. This will serve as the base layer for the bedding.
  3. Add a thick layer of shredded paper or pine shavings on top of the paper towels. This will serve as the bedding for the chicks.
  4. Set up the heat source in a safe and secure location above the brooder. Ensure the heat source is suspended high enough so the chicks cannot touch it or get burned.
  5. Place the thermometer inside the brooder to monitor the temperature. The ideal temperature for chicks is between 93-95°F (33.9-35°C) for the first week, and then gradually reduced by 5°F (2.8°C) per week until they are fully feathered.
  6. Add the chick feed and water inside the brooder. Make sure to provide fresh water and food daily.
  7. Cover the top of the brooder with a lid or mesh screen to prevent the chicks from escaping.
  8. Use duct tape to seal any gaps or openings on the sides or top of the box.

Plastic Tub Brooder

Materials required:

  • Plastic tub with a lid (size depends on the number of chicks)
  • Heat source (heat lamp, heating pad, or radiant heat panel)
  • Thermometer
  • Bedding material (pine shavings, straw, or shredded paper)
  • Feeder and wateredChick
  • starter feed
  • Wire mesh or screen for ventilation

How to build:

  1. Clean the plastic tub and remove any stickers or labels
  2. Drill or punch holes on the sides and lid of the tub for ventilation.
  3. Place the heat source in one corner of the tub, at a safe distance from the plastic walls.
  4. Add a layer of bedding material, around 1 to 2 inches deep, to cover the bottom of the tub.
  5. Set up the feeder and waterer on the opposite corner of the heat source.
  6. Hang a thermometer near the heat source to monitor the temperature.
  7. Place the chicks in the brooder and monitor their behavior.
  8. Adjust the heat source to maintain the recommended temperature range based on the age of the chicks.
  9. Check the bedding material regularly and replace it if it becomes damp or soiled.
  10. Refill the feeder and waterer with fresh feed and water daily.
  11. Clean the brooder and replace the bedding material regularly.

Wooden Box Brooder

Materials required:

  • Wooden box (size depends on the number of chicks)
  • Heat source (heat lamp, heating pad, or radiant heat panel)
  • Thermometer
  • Bedding material (pine shavings, straw, or shredded paper)
  • Feeder and wateredChick
  • starter feed
  • Wire mesh or screen for ventilation
  • Saw, hammer, nails or screws, drill (if needed), sandpaper

How to build:

  1. Choose a wooden box that is sturdy, dry, and clean. You can use new or repurposed wood.
  2. Cut a hole in one side of the box for ventilation, and cover it with wire mesh or screen.
  3. Cut a hole in the lid for the heat source, and secure it with a clamp or chain.
  4. Sand the edges of the holes to prevent splinters.
  5. Line the bottom of the box with bedding material, around 1 to 2 inches deep.
  6. Repeat steps 5 – 12 for plastic tub chick brooder.

PVC Pipe Brooder

Materials required:

  • PVC pipes (2-3 inches in diameter, length depends on the size of the brooder)
  • PVC elbows and T-joints
  • PVC glue
  • Mesh screen or wire mesh
  • Zip ties or wire for securing the mesh
  • Heat source (heat lamp, heating pad, or radiant heat panel)
  • Thermometer
  • Bedding material (pine shavings, straw, or shredded paper)
  • Feeder and waterer
  • Chick starter feed
  • Saw or PVC pipe cutter
  • Drill (if needed)

How to build:

  1. Cut the PVC pipes into four equal lengths for the sides of the brooder and two shorter lengths for the ends.
  2. Connect the pipes using the elbows and T-joints to form a rectangular frame.
  3. Glue the joints to secure the frame.
  4. Cut a piece of mesh screen or wire mesh to fit the top of the frame and secure it with zip ties or wire.
  5. Set up the heat source on one end of the brooder and hang the thermometer near it to monitor the temperature.
  6. Line the bottom of the brooder with bedding material, around 1 to 2 inches deep.
  7. Repeat steps 5 – 12 for plastic tub chick brooder.

Upcycled Furniture Brooder

Materials required:

  • Old pieces of furniture such as a dresser or cabinet
  • Chicken wire or mesh screen
  • Staples or screws for securing the wire
  • Heat source (heat lamp, heating pad, or radiant heat panel)
  • Thermometer
  • Bedding material (pine shavings, straw, or shredded paper)
  • Feeder and wateredChick
  • starter feed
  • Saw or drill (if needed)

How to build:

  1. Choose a piece of furniture that is sturdy and large enough for the number of chicks.
  2. Remove any drawers or shelves and clean the interior.
  3. Cut a piece of chicken wire or mesh screen to fit over the top of the furniture.
  4. Staple or screw the wire securely to the top of the furniture.
  5. Set up the heat source on one end of the furniture and hang the thermometer near it to monitor the temperature.
  6. Line the bottom of the furniture with bedding material, around 1 to 2 inches deep.
  7. Repeat steps 5 – 12 for plastic tub chick brooder.

After Building, What Next?

After building your chick brooder, the next is maintenance. Here are some tips to help you maintain your chick brooder:

  • Monitor temperature and adjust heat source as needed.
  • Keep bedding material clean and dry.
  • Refill feeder and waterer with fresh food and water daily.
  • Clean and disinfect the brooder regularly.
  • Watch for signs of illness or stress in chicks.
  • Gradually increase space and decrease the heat as chicks grow.
  • Provide appropriate perches and enrichment as chicks mature.
  • Keep the brooder dry and well-ventilated to prevent mold and bacterial growth.
  • Check the brooder regularly for safety hazards, such as loose wires or sharp edges.
  • Always wash hands before and after handling chicks to prevent the spread of disease.

Also Read: DIY Pallet Chicken Coop Ideas


Creating a DIY chick brooder can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to raise healthy and happy chicks.

By using readily available materials and following some basic guidelines, anyone can create a safe and comfortable home for their feathered friends.

Whether it’s a cardboard box, plastic tub, wooden box, PVC pipe, or upcycled furniture, there are many creative and practical options for building a brooder.

With some care and attention, your DIY brooder can be the start of a rewarding journey into the world of backyard poultry.

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