DIY Baby Brooder: Built in under 2 hours for under $150


Man At Work

Man At Work

So we built a brooder (I should say the hubby built the brooder; I held baby ducks). It was a last minute operation and most of the materials we had to purchase. This is the model we designed ours after; we figured that we are only going to be using it for a couple of months and we wanted it to be budget-friendly and easy to clean. This seemed to fit those needs.

A few differences:

*we used a bigger Rubbermaid container because we were getting so many chicks

*we added an extra measure of security by locking the lid tight the bottom part using an arrow (hole through both lid and bottom, push arrow through both)-plus it made it seem more bad-ass Katniss-y

*we used zip ties to secure the screen; I got that idea here.

Wondering why we needed more security?

Curious or hungry...

Curious or hungry…

So far we are pretty happy with the design and ease of cleaning. We added three “roosts” last night; there were some broken arrows (flashback to the days when MTV actually played music videos) in the basement that we repurposed into roosts. I added a disposable cake pan under the water dish to catch all the water that the ducks spill everywhere. It works better than not having anything, but does not catch it all, the ducks are a wet mess. Right now there is poultry bedding in the roost, but I am debating switching to sand. Not sure if that will make it easier or more difficult to keep clean.

*Additional information since this post was written: we are going to split ducks from chicks this week. The ducks are a crazy mess. They are cute fuzzy balls of poop and bad decisions. I am not sure if the chicks have gotten a clean drink of water in a week. We fill the waterer up at least 10 times a day, and as SOON as it hits the brooder they are trying to smash their chubby, squishy duck baby bodies into the small space between the waterer and the dish to drink/swim. Swink. Or maybe drim…anyway, they chicks have had it, and we are making the move tonight. I got a huge, see through-tub at Target for $14 and the hubby is going to use leftover supplies to make them their own home. 

All in all we spent about $110 (before Operation Move Smelly Ducks) on the supplies for the brooder,the started chick food, electrolytes for water, feeder, waterers, heat bulbs, etc.


Overall between the cost of the chicks and the brooder materials it has been about a $250 experience. Actually make that $260. The hubby also made this purchase to add to my homesteading book collection.


We are starting to think about coop ideas, so that will add more to the cost. But the joy of baby ducks and chicks peeping in your kitchen? Priceless! Are you raising babies in your kitchen or anywhere else? Let me know how it is going or if you have any advice below. I would love to know that there are other crazy adventurous people out there.

Chick In A Box

On Monday I ended my post with a picture of a package I picked up at the Post Office, and because most of you who are reading this right now are probably my Facebook friend, you already knew what was in it. Chicks in a box!

Chicks in a box!

Chicks in a box!

So last year the hubby and I started talking about getting some chicks for the kids to raise (Pippa has been practicing carrying water in buckets) and to increase the amount of farm fresh eggs we have access to. Currently his brother has chickens that love to roam into our backyard and wait on the back steps for Cheerios. (Not a plug for Cheerios, the ladies are very specific in their tastes. Do not try to pass off stale Raisin Bran at 7 AM because they will call your bullshit.)

Chicken Sit-in: Hell no, we won't go

Chicken Sit-in: Hell no, we won’t go.

Before we even moved I had started talking about getting some chickens, to which the hubby’s response was always “No. They are dirty.” Fast forward 3 years and he is enamored with the squatter chickens and their antics. We had been debating on when would be a good time, and then we had a friend over for brunch and Bloody Marys. She was getting some chicks, which sealed the deal for us. I did let the vodka wear off before I acted on our impulse, but two weeks later this still happened:

You can buy anything on the internet.

You can buy anything on the internet.

So we got some peeps! I had ordered the Guinea Hens for tick control, but then after doing some research POST-purchase, I decided against it and switched them out for a Polish Buff and a something that sounds like it should on the menu at Oktoberfest. We are the type of people that are painting the nursery the night before the baby comes, so as expected, the night before the chicks arrived we had to construct our brooder. Frantic Pinterest searching and list making led to the hubby taking the 7 year old out Tractor Supply at 7 o’clock at night (it was a busy week). Somehow he not only came home with $120 worth of brooder materials and chick supplies, but also $20 worth of fuzzy ducklings. Baby Ducks. Cuteness overload. If you ask him, he was “just kidding” about the ducklings. I don’t understand how you send a text message like that as a “joke”.



I am not going to lie, this could be worst idea ever. It seems like I have had a run on those lately. Also, do not be fooled by the mind-numbing cuteness of these little faces, they have the same effect tequila does on the decision making process. They “get grown”, and they “get grown” fast. Cute, fluffy Easter basket stuffers become big, loud fowl who need space and poop everywhere. And rather than just start with a “few” we somehow ended up with a brooder of 10 babies and 5 more on the way in May. I will share in my next post the materials we used to construct the brooder, in case you get any grand ideas. Remember though, if you fall for the fluff, your of walk of shame the next morning will include an audience of ducks waddling after you. Pooping everywhere. Friday morning I got the call from our local post office (which interestingly is NOT the closest post office to our house) that the chicks had landed! Finding the post office was the first obstacle because it did not look like a post office; it looked like a house. Post office masquerading as a house. Once I turned around (twice) and parked outside I actually had to sit for a minute and pull myself together because I was so excited. The excitement was legit though because as soon as I opened the door I could hear the peeping! And not only did they have my chicks; they had my mail-order coffee. When I told the hubby about the BEST POST OFFICE PICK-UP EVER, his response was “huh..those ladies probably think you are something else…”. (Since moving I bought a coffee subscription from my favorite Harrisburg coffee shop, Little Amps. It makes me a feel little less Harrisburg-sick every month.) Best PO Pick Up Ever After the pick up I rushed home and had minor panic attacks the whole way that one or two may be dead. Even the most reputable hatcheries cannot guarantee that all chicks will arrive alive. Luckily when I opened the box they were all living and breathing balls of feathers and fuzz. I checked the little bottoms for “pasty butt” and dipped their beaks into the water the brooder per these directions. The ducklings had been in the brooder since the night before and it took a little while for them to adjust and stop hiding behind the feeder. Ducks being not impressedSo what are we brooding (is that even a word)? Here is what we have:

All chickens came from Lancaster Fancy Fowl, rather than have to orchestrate a pick-up with our crazy schedules, we paid about $30 to have them mailed to us. They were sent out around 5 PM Thursday and arrived at the post office around 7 AM Friday. Let me know if you are current flock master or thinking about getting starting one. Any advice for new babies would be greatly appreciated. Also, you may still be looking at that list above, thinking, so you have 10 feathered fowl in that brooder, all who could be male? Yes. Yes we do. But let’s not worry about that now. Let’s just focus on the cuteness. Pippa loving up on a ducky, hopefully a girl ducky Handful of cuteness...hopefully female cuteness Also, if you read this far, tell me this skit from SNL did not pop into your head when you read my post title. Christmas Present Advice from SNLSource: