How to build a chicken brooder box

The most important things for young chickens are warmth, water and food. They need a stable environment to get a healthy start to their new lives. You can provide that environment for your new chicks by making a chicken brooder box with household materials. Brooders can be made easily from a number of materials, including plywood, plastic bins, or even cardboard boxes.

Find an old cardboard box. The recommended size for the box is 24-inches by 12-inches by 12-inches. Fifteen to 25 chicks can live comfortably in a box of that size. Vary the size according to the number of chicks.

Leave the top end of a cardboard box open. Cut the lips of the box along the edges with a utility knife. That exposes the top of the box.

Cover half of the bottom of the box with paper towels. Chicks need a non-slippery surface to walk upon. Paper towels are easy to clean and replace.

Line the other half of the bottom of the box with sawdust or sand. That also helps absorb spills and waste from the chicks.

Bend a long-necked lamp over the top edge of the box, and install a 60-watt bulb. Keep the bulb at least 4 inches away from the cardboard. The light bulb should not make contact with the box for safety purposes.

Place a thermometer on the side of the box away from the lamp. The best temperature for the chicks is approximately 33.9 degrees C. A few degrees higher or lower is acceptable. Chicks crowd around the lamp when they get cold. They crowd farthest away from the lamp when they get hot. When temperature conditions are optimal, they scatter randomly around the brooder box.

Add a second 60 Watt lamp to the other side of the brooder if the temperature is too cold.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard box
  • Utility knife
  • Paper towel
  • 60-inch long necked lamp
  • Sawdust
  • Sand
  • Thermometer
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About the Author

John Kimball has written educational content and textbooks for Cambridge University Press since 2007. He graduated from the University of California at Riverside with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology.