Build a Chick Brooder

We’re tooling up at the homestead.  The plan is to raise 150 chickens this spring.  150 chickens means that we’re going to have 150 chicks.  At least.  We need a bigger chick brooder.

Last year, we used a plastic tub.



The tub worked well for six chicks.

I’d like a chick brooder that can handle 50 chicks.

I’ve seen a brooder design I like.  It’s called the Ohio Brooder.  You can see what it looks like here…

I love Kingbird Farm and appreciate Cornell putting up these videos.  I just wish it didn’t cost so much to take a class from them.

Here are the plans in PDF…

I like the Ohio Brooder design except for the inset top.  I think it’s a pain to make.  I think that I can add insulation without needing to drop the brooder ceiling.


I have some 2 foot by 4 foot sheets of 1/4 inch plywood.  You could use one sheet of four foot by eight foot plywood.  I took some 1 inch by inch lumber and screwed it to the long sides of a plywood sheet.  See below…



I did the same thing to another sheet but made sure that I left a space that equaled the thickness of the 1 x 1s on each end.

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I then cut the sheets down the middle.  This left 4 sheets.  They’re the sides of the brooder.



I set the sheets down, resting them on their long ends with the 1 x 1 edge up.  They make the sides of the brooder.  I screwed them together.

Next, I took two more sheets of 2 foot by 4 foot plywood and covered the top.  Hopefully, you have a a 4 foot by four foot piece left from your original sheet of plywood.



The next step is to add feet.  Cut some 1 inch by 1 inch lumber to fit inside the corners.  The wood should extend past the box by four inches.


Time for electrical.

I want to emphasize that I’m not an electrician.  You shouldn’t do wiring if you don’t know what you’re doing.  Do at your own risk.  The instructions agree with me…



I mounted two electrical boxes on opposing walls inside the box. I poked a hole in the ceiling above each box.  I ran two wires from one box to the other, through the holes.

I had some wiring left over from my fence charger project.  Basically, these are wires stripped out of Romex.  I used these wires .20131226_201605


I wired the fixtures.  I put a second set of wires into one of the electrical boxes.  I wired the two fixtures and the second set of wire in the box using wire nuts and screwed down everything.

Next, I put a plug on the extra set of wires.  Here’s the inside of the plug…



Here’s what it looked like afterward…



I added light bulbs (using 250 watt infra reds) and plugged in.



Here are some troubleshooting tips.

Did you blow a breaker when you plugged in?  Your two wires are touching where they’re bare or else grounding out on something.

Only one light came on?  Check where you spliced your wires together.  I use wire nuts to tie my wires together.  Then I tape them with electrical tape.  Chances are something is loose.

No lights came on?  Check breaker.  Check Plug.  Check splices.  Still no love?  Get a multimeter.

Now I get to make 3 more of these.