Plastic Tote Chick Brooder

We bought chicks. (!) Before buying chicks one must procure a brooder to keep the little buggers warm. A million years ago (ten years ago, actually) when we built a chick brooder, we made a big plywood box-type thingy. It worked well and was really nice. This time around, however, we opted for an easier route. A plastic tote chick brooder.

Totes are affordable and can be turned into a brooder in about ten minutes. If you’re buying a lot of chicks you’ll need a huge tote, and those things ain’t cheap. Plan accordingly, because cramming too many birds into a small space leads to picking and all kinds of unpleasant things.

First, we measured a piece of hardware cloth (any wire will work, as will window screen) and cut it to fit the center part of the tote’s lid. Then we (not me) cut out the center part of the lid, drilled some holes, and attached the wire via zip ties.



We keep our house just above arctic-circle-cold, so we needed to drop a light into the brooder to get the temp high enough. The light is suspended with heavy wire. Another light was needed to bump the temperature up to 95 F. We keep a small thermometer in there to keep a constant eye on the temp.


After making sure the temperature was stable for a day or so…we bought chicks. Back in Wisconsin I could only get chicks by ordering them (I always bought from Murray McMurray) but out here every hardware store has them in the spring.


Oh my gaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. So cute.

We now have four barred rock pullets. It’s been ten years since we had chicks (and ducks) and I’d forgotten just about everything. Including how fast they grow. And how much they sleep, and how they fall asleep in the most unbelievable positions.

So obviously I busted out the 50mm lens to take some glamour shots of a bunch of birds.

I will spend the next few weeks huddled over the brooder talking to the chicks until they reach that ugly in between teenager stage. That’s the OMG WHEN CAN YOU GET OUTSIDE AND INTO THE COOP stage.

Until then,

Chicken Lady out.

2 thoughts on “Plastic Tote Chick Brooder

  1. I’m so glad you posted this! I want chickens so badly this year. My kids would have a blast (4 yr old and 2 yr old) but I don’t know a lot about it all. We had chickens and ducks as a kid but I don’t remember what my parents did. I will have to look into your company you ordered from.

    Fellow (near future) crazy chicken lady

    1. It seems a little overwhelming at first, but chicks are pretty easy. There’s a ton of web sites out there that walk you through the whole thing. Chickens are fun to have around, my nephews think they’re the best things ever. Probably because they haven’t had to clean a coop yet. 🙂

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