Chick Brooding Cabinet

Submitted by Ana White on Wed, 04/04/2012 - 10:14
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Build a cabinet for brooding chicks! Use as a pet cage for birds and other animals! Free plans!

The other day we stopped by here

And brought home four new members of to the family.

Their names are Sunny, Easy, Scramble and French Toast.

Grace's favorite is Sunny.  She's very sweet.

After a few days in a plastic tote, we decided it was time to build a brooding box.  With temperatures still falling well below freezing at night up here in Alaska, it's too early to build a chicken coop.  And let's not forget about the snow and frozen ground.  That will have to wait a month or two.

I had originally set out to build a brooding box like this one, but after a few days of cleaning up poo, I decided I wanted a open bottom with a tray underneath for easy cleaning.

And then one "wish list" item led to another, and before you know it, this is what we were building.

Because why not build a cabinet with an easy clean out tray, doors so the little ones can peek in and check on the chicks, and ample storage for keeping things like feed, newspaper, water, books and other chick nursery items on hand?

And if I'm using up a sheet of plywood either way, why not make something pretty?  Something I could maybe use for another use?

So what started out as an aversion to cleaning poo

Turned into this.

And of course, we even installed a light inside to keep them warm.

They are, after all, our newest members of the family.

We kept the doors low so Grace could see the chicks and help with cleanout.  But I kindof wished we'd down the doors higher and storage underneath.  That way the birds are at eye sight, with storage down below.  This would work great for other types of birds too.

But the good news is you can do whatever you want to suit your needs.  That's the great thing about DIY!

Dimensions are shown above. Brooding space is approximately 4 1/2 square feet.


Shopping List

1 - sheet 3/4" plywood, ripped into 3 strips 15 1/2" wide by 8 feet long (referred to as 1x16 in this plan)
2 - 1x2 @ 8 feet long
2 - 1x3 @ 8 feet long
8 - 2x2 @ 8 feet long
1 - 1x8 @ 3 feet long

36" wide hardware cloth or chicken wire - I used about 4 feet total
3 sets of hinges
1/2" staples
knobs, handles and latches

Cut List

2 - 1x16 @ 60" (sides)
4 - 1x2 @ 15 1/2" (side trim)
4 - 2x2 @ 66" (legs)
8 - 2x2 @ 36" (front/back trim)
3 (or more) 1x2 @ 15 1/2" (for supporting grated bottom)
3 - 1x16 @ 36" (shelves) - extra is optional shelf not shown
1 - 1x16 @ 39" (top)
2 - 1x2 @ 39" (top)
1/4" plywood or other materials 38 1/2" x 60" (back)
1 - 1x8 @ 35 3/4" (bottom door tilts down)

4 - 1x3 @ 24 3/4"
4 - 1x3 @ 12 3/4"
Hardware cloth or chicken wire stapled to back

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Circular Saw
Power Sander
Staple Gun
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

Start with the sides. Drill 3/4" PHs along sides and top edge. Attach side trim.

Step 2

Attach legs with 1 1/4" PH screws through predrilled holes.

Step 3

Now join the two sides to start making the box.

Step 4

This is for the mesh bottom. If you mesh needs more support, add more boards to support.

Step 5

Step 6

Followed by upper shelf.

Step 7

And the top.

Step 8

Followed by adding the back.

Step 9

Build doors to fit openings. I stapled hardware cloth to back. Staple hardware cloth to bottom of middle shelf as well.

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.
Help Improve This Plan

We apologize if there was an error in this plan. Please help us out and report any errors here.


Guest (not verified)

Wed, 04/04/2012 - 11:57

Ana...AMAZING as always!!! What an Inspiration you are, thank you so much!

Kathy Webster-Link (not verified)

Wed, 04/04/2012 - 12:11

This is way better than the converted dog crate that I've been using as a brooder! It's been a mess, but I've loved it. Still I'd decided NOT to have them in the house again, but this design could change my mind! Really, really cute.
My go-to website for everything chicken related is! Just in case you wanted to know. ;)


Wed, 04/04/2012 - 12:23

This is too cute! I want to build it just b/c it's fabulous, though - not to put chicks in. Is that crazy? I'd just like to have it in my dining room or somewhere sans chickens. :-)


Wed, 04/04/2012 - 13:03

I got my first chicks this spring. I built my coop last week. is the way to go to learn lots. They even have a bunch of alaska chicken keepers on there to help with the bitter cold issues. Who knew chickens were so hardy!!

I am cooking up an idea for a brooder that docks to a run for a chicken tractor when the chicks get bigger.

Kerry Andrus (not verified)

Wed, 04/04/2012 - 16:19

Can't wait to see your chicken coop!!! I realize that you have 4 chicks, but I really hope you'll show a design that could be expanded to holding a larger flock!


Wed, 04/04/2012 - 16:38

For those who are having trouble with PDF's - Just click on the printer friendly copy and then copy and paste to a Word document. I have tried to save as PDF using the print preview, but my printer options seem to be much more limited and I haven't been able to save as a PDF. However, the Word document still gives me what I need to build the project.

Johan (not verified)

Wed, 04/04/2012 - 22:49

Enjoy them, they grow big pretty quick.
A few weeks ago I hatched 6 eggs in a makeshift incubator (11-11-2011) and they are almost fully grown New Hampshire Chickens already, but still pets, wanting to climb onto your lap when you sit with them.