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5 Easy Baby Chick Brooder Ideas

Picking out a baby chick brooder is easy. There are just a few important things it must have and your chicks will be happy and healthy!

Baby chicks inside of their brooder

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Getting baby chicks is so much fun! I usually get a new batch of chicks every two years to ensure that I always have young hens in my flock.

But if it’s your first time getting baby chicks I completely understand how overwhelming it might be. There is lots of information out there and my goal is to keep it as simple as possible.

The first thing you need to do before bringing home your chicks is to get a brooder set up. Luckily, there are lots of easy options out there that will work out perfectly!

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Baby Chick Brooder Basics

There are so many options for chick brooders I know it’s easy to often get caught up trying to get the best one.

But as long as you keep your chicks in a safe place with food, water, and a heat source, they’ll be healthy and happy in just about anything.


Below are some simple ideas of items to use for a brooder. A few of the ideas may even be items you already have around the house!

1.) Galvanized Stock Tank – We always seem to have old stock tanks/water troughs lying around and so I end up using these as brooders most of the time.

Depending on the depth, you may have to add a screen or paneling over the top to make sure your chicks can’t hop out.

2.) Rabbit Hutch – The rabbit hutch works out really well because it’s already made for animals which means you don’t have to add on any additional features to keep the chicks inside.

3.) Kiddie Pool – The kiddie pool works out great too but just like I mentioned above with the stock tank, you may need to add something over the top to make sure your chicks can’t hop out and to prevent any other animals from getting in.

Just be sure that whatever cover you use is breathable so your chicks get plenty of air.

4.) Plastic Storage Container – Chicks can outgrow storage containers pretty quick but we almost all have at least a few of these lying around so they’re a great last-minute option if you don’t have anything else.

5.) Dog Kennel Crate – Dog crates are another easy option because they are fully enclosed and safe.

Chick Brooder Essentials & Setup

You should set up your brooder at least one day prior to getting your chicks. This way it’s ready when they arrive and you won’t be rushing last minute.

Inside the Brooder

First, line the bottom of whatever container you decide to use with newspaper or paper towels. This will make it easier to cleanout.

Then top that with pine shavings which will provide soft bedding, absorb moisture, and prevent the chicks from slipping.

Pine shaving in the bottom of a baby chick brooder

Third, fill up your water. It’s a good idea to set the waterer on something slightly up off the shavings like a block of wood or use a waterer with adjustable legs.

If not, you’ll constantly be scooping out shavings from their water.

Fourth, fill your feeder with chick starter feed.

Depending on how many chicks you get, you may even want to put in two feeders. I usually get 25 chicks at a time and use two feeders so they all have plenty of room to eat.

If you want to be extra prepared you should set up two brooders. In the picture below you can see that I have a rabbit hutch and a water trough set up.

A rabbit hutch and stock tank used as a chick brooder

The reason for two brooders is so you can move any weak or sick chicks to their own separate brooder.

This will allow you to give them extra care and it will prevent the other babies from picking on them.

Heat Lamp Setup

Get a heat lamp and an extra bulb to keep on hand in case one breaks or goes out. Red bulbs are preferred over white bulbs because they are supposed to prevent chicks from pecking at each other.

Then securely hang your heat lamp about 12 inches above the baby chicks so that the bottom of the brooder is around 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The brooder should stay around 95-100° F for the first week and then the heat lamp can be gradually moved up to decrease the temperature each week by 5° increments as chicks begin to grow in their feathers.

If you notice the chicks hurdling together that is a sign they are cold and may need a bit more heat

Or, on the other hand, if they are all spread out they may be just fine or a bit too warm.

Brooder Essentials

Here are the few essentials that every brooder will need!

  1. Feeder & Waterer
  2. Heat Lamp
  3. Heat Bulbs
  4. Pine Shavings

After Your Chicks Arrive

Setting up your baby chick brooder is only the first step to many fun years ahead with chickens.

So once you get your babies home and into the brooder be sure to head over to my post here, How to Care for Baby Chicks.

Just like all babies, they grow up fast so enjoy every minute of it!

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long to keep chicks in the brooder?

Chicks need to stay in the brooder until they grow in all of their feathers which typically takes 6 weeks.

However, depending on how cold it is outside you may want to keep them in the brooder a bit longer or upgrade them into a larger brooder if they are outgrowing their current one.

What temperature should a chick brooder be?

The brooder should be around 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week and then can gradually decrease it in temperature each week by 5° increments as the baby chicks start growing in their real feathers.

How long does it take chicks to get their feathers?

Chicks are usually fully feathers by 6 weeks old but some breeds may take longer. It’s important to observe each chick by itself to see if they are fully feathered.

When can you put chicks outside in the coop?

This depends on a variety of factors but the first consideration is after they are fully feathered. The next consideration is if they are being added in with older chickens.

If that is the case you will likely need to wait until the chicks are even bigger so that the older chickens don’t pick on them.

What do you put in the bottom of a chick brooder?

I line the bottom of my chick brooder with newspaper and then top that with pine shavings to absorb moisture.

Pin it for Later

Baby chicks in a brooder

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  1. If I have my coop inside a barn and the coop is insulated, do you think it would be ok for the chicks to be in a brooder inside the coop? What outside temperature would it be ok to do this?

  2. I purchased 3 chicks this year for the first time ever and I started putting them outside because the weather couldn’t make up my mind as to what temperature it was going to be but after about 4 weeks I opted to move them outside permanently. I have a rabbit hutch that I put them in in the house then got tired of the smell so I moved them to the porch. I waited about 2 weeks and moved them to the ground where I will be building a coop and run for them to be in. I greatly appreciate the information that I get from you. Thank you!

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