New HUGE Brooder Box

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Good afternoon!  Yesterday as we approached four days until the chicks would arrive, I knew we had to come up with a huge brooder box design.  Our current cattle trough brooder just won’t hold 33 chicks.  

Cattle Trough Chick Brooder Box


I’ve been researching brooders,  the cattle trough and dog kennel designs would not work nor would any of the other designs we looked at.  I visited BackYard Chickens to see the suggestions out there.  They have a long list of ideas, but I needed something that would hold 30 chicks and to make it out of things we already have here.  


Bookshelf Brooder Box


Dad and I were in the barn looking at some cabinets we have but they looked too small to me.  So, I decided to use some old book shelves we have in the garage.  They were left over from our recent classroom redesign and I knew I could arrange them into a large brooder box.  We moved them into the shape of a rectangle  (5’4″ x 2’3″) and taped large garbage bags onto the backs of the bookshelves so they would not get ruined.


Brooder Box Cover

After we got the bookshelves in place and bags taped on the backs,  Dad and I started making the cover to the brooder box.  We made it out of tomato stakes and chicken wire.  We decided to use two covers instead of one giant one, which makes it easier to open.  There are only a couple of things that need to be done to be completely ready for the chicks to arrive:

  • put cardboard on the floor under the shelves
  • put some shavings in the bottom of the brooder
  • get another feeder
  • get another waterer
  • get another heat lamp
  • find a recipe for jump starter for the chicks when they first arrive to help them regain their strength


Today I met with our post office manager to ask if they would call me when the chicks arrive from Welp Hatchery this week.   I should be finished with the rest of this list by the time the chicks get here.  When I find a good kick-start recipe, I’ll post it here too.  

If you see anything that I have left out of the brooder or the things I need to get, please leave a comment down below.  I check them everyday after class.  

See ya’ soon!  


About Gage

Gage is a 13 year old homeschooled tween living on Live and Learn Farm. He writes about his interests, hobbies, and homeschool. He is in the 8th grade and is taking: Algebra II (VideoText Algebra), Physical Science (VHSG/ Apologia), Exercises in English and Vocabulary in Action (Loyola Press), All About Spelling, SWI-B (IEW), Paths of Exploration.


  1. Wow Gage, that’s a nice brooder box! it’s big and deep. Where do you keep yours? I keep ours in my bathroom, so mine is in an old army ammo box. Right now that’s where I moved my Easter eggers: I’m getting some quail chicks after Elijah’s testing tomorrow. The only thing I would be very careful about is not to let the garbage bags get anywhere near the chicks, they could peck at it and choke on it, which would be really sad :(.
    What kind of chicks are you getting? I’ve dealt with Welp before. They are good to deal with in my opinion. Is your brooder on the floor? Do you have trouble reaching the bottom of it?
    Good job 🙂 Can’t wait to see pictures of the chicks when you get them!

    • Thank you Miss Katharine! We keep our brooders in the garage, where we have a lot of space for a brooder or two. And thank you for pointing out the garbage bag’s danger, I don’t think that will be a problem though because they are thick and tough. We are getting 30 chicks there are 5 barred Cochin Bantams, 5 blue Cochin Bantams, 10 red frizzle Cochin Bantams and 10 white frizzle Cochin Bantams. Yes and no our brooder is on the floor, but the chicks will be on some cedar shaving which are on a large piece of cardboard. And I can reach the bottom of the brooder fairly good. Thanks for posting!

  2. now that is an Idea I would not have thought of myself. Great Job. I think you are all set but just like the poster said before me make sure they canot get to the garbage bags. I am going to check on this but I believe u can give them a little sugar in their water or diluted gator- aid but as soon as I find out I will let your mom know.
    deana rogers
    rockin r farm

    • Thanks Miss Deana! The shelf brooder was a strange idea, but it works. I have taken the bag danger in to consideration but as I said to Miss Katharine, the bags are very tough and I don’t think the chicks could easily break the bag. And my mom found a recipe for chick sugar water. Thank you for posting Miss Deana.

      • can u share the recipe for the sugar water recipe? I am planning or hoping to start getting some chicks in the next couple of weeks. I can put it in my files for a later date as well. when I get home and can find my recipe box I have some recipe’s just for my chickens on different breads, fun breakfast things they can eat. I found them all a few years ago when I had a bird rescue and chickens can eat them as well. And some even us humans can eat as well.

        • Please share your recipes 🙂 The sugar water recipes I found appear to vary greatly (sort of like everybody has a favorite for their sweet tea 🙂 I’ve read anywhere from 1/2 cup to 1 1/2 cup sugar per gallon of room temp water. We are going to use 1 cup (like our sweet tea) and you only use it for 12 hours. They also emphasized not using cold water or warm water… but room temperature water so they don’t get chilled.

      • you are so welcome. i am looking forward to meeting his new baby chicks.

  3. Debi Valerga says:

    Great idea to use bookshelves for your brooder! I look forward to seeing pics of the little peeps once they arrive!

    I do recommend that you not use cedar shavings for your chicks. It can be toxic. Pine shavings are a better choice. I use paper towels on the bottom for the first week. They are easy to roll up and replace. When the chicks have zeroed in on their food and water as evidenced by their poo (which is easy to see on the paper towels), I replace with pine shavings. Some chicks do have a tendency to eat the shavings which is one reason why I start with paper towels.

    Keep a close eye on them with the plastic. It is amazing how strong their little beaks can be and how determined they are when pecking at things. One tiny hole in the plastic is all that it will take to bring on a pecking frenzy!

    Congratulations on your new adventure into chicken owning! Watch out, though! It is very addicting!!! 🙂

    • THANK YOU for the warning on cedar shavings! Almost messed up! We have three chicks that were already on cedar (only a day or two in a well ventilated garage)… but we changed them out to pine today too! Gage will be doing a post on this one! We really appreciate you giving us a heads up on that!

    • Thank you Miss Debi for the compliment and the tip !

  4. Looking Great! Keep up the good work.

  5. I’m a Montessori teacher in Texas. Several of my young students (age 3-6) are raising chicks. I can’t wait to show them your beautiful pictures!

  6. Carolyn Bartelson says:

    So happy that someone else noticed and commented on the using of cedar chips. Cedar chips can cause respiratory distress in chickens of any age. They don’t have to eat it or breathe the odor, the oil is absorbed through their feet. I also agree with what others are saying about the plastic. My little ones peck on the side of their hard plastic brooder and it sounds like someone is knocking on a door. They peck hard. Soft plastic of any kind could be a hazard. You have done an amazing job on building some great brooders. I really hope that you continue to pursue raising chickens. You are a true inspiration to every generation

  7. Thank you Miss Carolyn, for being so concerned about our chicks. We have already fixed the cedar problem and the plastic is very thick. So I don’t think they will be able to peck through the bag. But I will monitor it. I will post pics as soon as the new chicks get here!

  8. Gage – we are so impressed with your skill & creativity! Thanks for linking up at Discover & Explore – we’re featuring you this week: We love that you show others how much fun it is to build your own creations.

    • Thank you Miss Jacquie! I shall take a look at your site. And the chicks are no longer using that brooder, they are out in our 2nd chicken pen now! But while they were in it they loved it! Thank you for featuring my brooder on your site!!!!

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