Creative Ideas for Homemade Chick Brooders

I have a confession to make. I can’t resist the allure of baby chicks. I know I’m not alone in this. One minute you’re at the feed store, and the next, you’re surrounded by cute, peeping fluff balls. But what do you do with them? Well, lucky for you, there are plenty of everyday items around your house that can double as a chick brooder. Let’s explore some creative ideas together!

Cardboard Box

A large cardboard box is probably the quickest and easiest way to set up a brooder. As your chicks grow, you can upgrade them to bigger boxes or even tape two boxes together to give them more space. Just make sure you don’t have curious kids or pets who might get too close. Keep in mind that cardboard is flammable and may get wet, so it’s not the best option for a homemade chick brooder.

Cardboard Box Chick Brooder

Metal Wash Tub

In a pinch, a metal wash tub can serve as a brooder. It may not accommodate many chicks for long, but it’s convenient for moving them around or cleaning. Unlike a cardboard box, it won’t catch fire, and it can handle water spills. To ensure your chicks stay safe, you can cover the top with a piece of screen or welded wire fencing.

Metal Wash Tub Chick Brooder

Plastic Storage Tote

A large plastic tote offers more room than a wash tub and is resistant to spills and moisture. You can even cut a window in the lid to provide ventilation and keep the chicks from escaping. If you need a step-by-step tutorial on turning a plastic tote into a brooder, you can find one here.

Further reading:  Southern Comfort: A Classic Take on Chicken and Dumplings

Plastic Storage Tote Chick Brooder

Dog Crate/Rabbit or Bird Cage

If you have an unused dog crate, bird cage, or rabbit cage lying around, you’re in luck. These small animal cages make excellent chick brooders. To prevent your chicks from squeezing through the openings and to keep drafts out, line the bottom few inches with cardboard or plastic. It’s a simple and effective solution.

Dog Crate Chick Brooder

Puppy/Baby Gates

In a pinch, you can corral your new chicks using puppy or baby gates in the garage. Just lay a tarp underneath to catch any mess. To prevent chicks from slipping through the holes in the gates, wrap some plastic around the bottom few inches, similar to what you would do with a dog crate or cage. With enough gates, you can create a spacious brooding area!

Puppy Gates Chick Brooder

Horse Trough or Stock Tank

If you happen to have a spare horse trough, you’re in for an excellent brooder. Whether it’s metal or plastic, it’s easy to clean, spacious, and not likely to be a fire hazard. However, the sides may not be high enough to contain the chicks, so make sure to use a piece of screen for the top.

Horse Trough Chick Brooder

Puppy Playpen

One of my favorite options for a chick brooder is a puppy playpen. It provides ample room for your chicks to grow, and it’s easy to clean by hosing it off. If you don’t already have one, you can purchase an affordable playpen online. The playpen is already secure, and since it has a top, your chicks will stay contained. Plus, the bottom can be removed, allowing you to take your chicks outside on nice days for a little adventure in the grass. Heat lamps can be a bit challenging to use with a playpen, so consider using a Brinsea EcoGlow instead.

Further reading:  Peri-Peri Chicken Breast: A Spicy Delight

Puppy Playpen Chick Brooder


In a real pinch, you can use a spare bathtub as a temporary chick brooder. Just add a rubber shelf liner or a grippy bathmat to prevent slipping, and you’re all set. It’s particularly handy for ducklings since the water mess they create will simply drain away.

Bathtub Chick Brooder

So, next time you find yourself with a box of peeping chicks on the seat next to you, take a look around your house and get creative! You don’t need to buy a chick brooder kit when there are so many alternatives available. Remember, improvising can be just as fun and effective. For more tips and tricks, visit Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ and explore our cooking resources.

Join us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube