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.


Rhoni T (not verified)

Thu, 04/05/2012 - 06:07

too cute, I'd like it without chicks, with shelves. It would make a nice cabinet for dishes or pantry cabinet.

My husband and I started building our chicken coop a few weeks ago (the hubs now refers to it as the "Chicken Mansion" ... Okay so WE got a bit carried away on the size). Only being able to work on it 3 days a week and building with no plans has been a test of "he said, she said", a few arguements later and I am happy to say it is finished! woo hoo Unfortunately we still have the run to building, hopefully that will go smoothly so we can official put are two girls in there for a few weeks until the baby chicks arrive the end of May.

some might say two hens that is all, I live in OK and last year we had a drout, 100+ temps for the better part of two months. I lost three of the best laying hens ever. They would get in the boxes to lay or brood and, well the heat was to much. so that is why the new coop that I can lock them out of when the it gets to hot and lock them in when it is too cold, with a heat lamp inside!!

Go online and look up Heather Bullard Chez Poulet, her coop is awesome, ours is built kinda like hers, but without plans and an added closet for garden stuff.

Mills Snell (not verified)

Thu, 04/05/2012 - 09:11

Just wondering what kind of creative ideas you have for the girls when they outgrow the brooder cabinet?

My wife and I have 3 hens in South Carolina, and we just moved and are about to build them a new and permanent home. We have been pleased with a coop and run in a single enclosure. We had them in 4x8ft, but will probably expand that since we want more!

pogonip (not verified)

Thu, 04/05/2012 - 21:23

Oh, how I remember our teeny chicks and the poop they generated! You are going to be totally spoiled by their fresh eggs. And probably will coddle your girls as much as we do when it gets cold!

Oh, and I love their names!

Elaine Belange… (not verified)

Mon, 05/14/2012 - 11:59

Hi, I love the brooder article and would like to talk to you about publishing it in our magazine in early 2013. Please contact me by email at to discuss publishing arrangement. I work from home and can also be reached by phone at 715-965-5923 8-5 eastern time. Thanks in advance, Elaine Belanger, Editor, Backyard Poultry.


Sat, 07/14/2012 - 23:04

I've been looking for something that I could use as an outdoor pool chemical storage, that could double as pool toy storage on the bottom with shelves, and doors on top (with a lock on them), and this seems really close to what I was looking for. Do you NEED the legs on the boom of this, or could you skip them? Because if toys rolled under this I'd never get them back :) And would you do anything special with this for an outdoor area where it's going to get wet, other than the paint type used?

Rian (not verified)

Thu, 07/19/2012 - 05:09

That chick brooding look very nice! I almost made one myself a few years ago with some materials that i have found at mesa junk removal.I can't wait to start the project again and to finish it now that my daughter is old enough to use it and to put her stuff in it.I love your projects and i look forward to see the new ones.