This is initially what put me off getting day old chicks. Every brooder set up I saw was in a shed or a barn and I don't have that kind of space available unfortunately. I've even had friends keep them in their dinning room before now but that isn't something I fancied as they soon start to smell!
So last year I looked at the chicken coops I already had and adapted one that wasn't in use. I had a few spare as I had switched over to the pastured pens that I had made up.
The coop I adapted was ideal. It had a big enough floor space to house 20 or so chicks, a large door I could open in the day to allow plenty of ventilation and a nest box where I could keep the extension reel. It was also up off the ground (stops rats and other rodents from making homes under it and better for my back!) and it's on wheels so could be moved when needed.
I made mesh screens to protect the electrics and also one to cover the front door. This meant I could leave it open during the say time without predators taking my birds! And also prevent my children from taking them out as well, or at least slow them down....
This year I've decide to make the area a little bigger. This will give the chicks a bit more space to run about and get away from each other. This new area is outside, my thinking is it will help harden them up a bit quicker as they can get away from the heat a bit more, although it might slightly slow their growth as they will need to put more energy into producing their own heat.
I wanted to make sure that this "extension" is easily removable and can just be added to the coop when I need it. I might still want this as a normal coop at some point.
I designed it to slot over the carrying handles on the coop and fixes with a couple of screws. The whole thing is covered with aviary mesh and the back opens up should I want access to the inside.
As it's been wet this weekend I've covered it with some clear plastic and the chicks have loved sitting out there watching the world go by!
I might have to add a more permanent roof to it at a later date I think, but I like the open sides and think it's good for the chicks to have access to a bit of fresh air when they want it. I will also add a second feeder and drinker in there this week to give them a reason for going out there.
So here's the new coop with the extension on the back. the boy is loving it and if I can't find him at any point I know exactly where he'll be! Hopefully the 26 chicks should grow nicely in there to about 4 weeks old when I'll take them off the heat and put them in the pasture pens to grow on until they're at the size we want.
What do you use for a brooder if you have chicks?