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Budget Friendly Brooder

I am frugal. I ultimately picked our chickens based on cost. It should come as no surprise that I didn't order a complete brooder kit. Not only do I want to avoid wasting money, but I think it is important and more sustainable to reuse what you already have. There are several plans on the internet and in the books I checked out of the library to build brooder boxes. We have some wood on hand and I could always hunt out heat treated pallets if I needed more, but even building something from the ground up seemed wasteful. All you really need is a draft free secure space, where you can regulate the temperature.  I saw pictures of brooders made out of wading pools and fish tanks, but I didn't have anything like that on hand. I wandered my house a few times while trying to think of what I could use to make a brooder. I rediscovered our baby/dog play pen just waiting to be used again. While taller than the typical brooder it was big enough. I thought I might line the walls of the play pen with cardboard to make it draft proof and sit it on a tarp for easy clean-up. Then I realized that if the trap could wrap up the sides it would keep drafts out without all the fuss of cutting cardboard and zip tying it to the frame. It was worth a shot, if it didn't work the only thing I lost was a few minutes of effort. I scrubbed the play pen down, fished out some unused thick clear painting plastic (because I couldn't find a tarp at that moment) and set to work. It took a few attempts to figure out what shape worked best for our space, a simple rectangle made it easy to wrap with the sheeting. The plastic was held in place by clothes pins making sure that everything was extra snug so the little chicks couldn't get in between the play pen and the exterior.  I found a piece of wood in our shed to hang our heat lamp from. My husband secured the beam with some velcro tape we had on hand (which I thought was brillant, because I was going to use duct tape). Later when the birds were bigger we added an additional baby gate across the top using bungee cords so the girls couldn't fly out. In the end all I had to purchase was two water bottles, a feeder, and the bag of bedding.

This post is part of 31 Days- a writing challenge and fourteenth in my baby chick series!

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