Every spring, the joy of having new chicks is somewhat dimmed by the daily task of cleaning out their brooder box. Yes, ducklings and chicks are cute, but they are also very messy creatures.

Most DIY brooder boxes are wooden and tough to thoroughly clean. Whoever thought of using plastic bins instead was clever, but we want to make the brooder even easier to clean by revamping the box to have a removable bottom.

The essential trick is to flip the bin so the lid is at the bottom and can be easily unattached and wiped clean in a simple spray of the hose.

The bulb is fixed to the inside of this brooder, so you will need multiple light bulbs to adjust the temperature. Or, you could install a dimmer into the light, if you’re comfortable going the extra mile. Either way, the easy-to-clean bottom on this brooder will make the extra bulbs or dimmer worth it.

Materials & Tools to Build a Brooder Box

  • plastic storage bin (preferably, a big one)
  • acrylic perspex sheet
  • ceramic lamp fitting and cord
  • handle
  • two hinges
  • screws
  • power drill
  • X-acto knife

Preparation for the Efficient Brooder Box

  1. Mark out a large rectangle on the bottom of the bin, this will be your door into the brooder box.
  2. Make sure your acrylic perspex sheet is larger than that opening will be, by a half an inch or so on each side.
  3. Mark the spot where the light will hang from, a few inches away from the door.

Directions to Build a Brooder Box

  1. Drill a large enough hole for your lamp’s cord to fit through, where you marked it.
  2. Cut away the rectangle you marked on the bottom of the bin, with the X-acto knife.
  3. Drill breathing holes in the Perspex, roughly a half inch apart, throughout the entire surface.
  4. Screw the handle onto one side of the Perspex.
  5. Screw the hinges onto the other end of the Perspex.
  6. Attach the hinges to the edge of the bin, so that the Perspex covers the opening, and so that the new lid can lift upwards.
  7. Open the lid, and attach the ceramic light fixture onto the inside of the bin. Run the cord from the fixture to an outlet.

To give your chicks the best chances, it’s important to turn the light on well before they get into the brooder. They need a warm, dry environment the moment they are ready to leave their shell.

I suggest you start with a medium bulb and stay nearby to see if the chicks are comfortable. If more than half are avoiding the light, it’s too warm. If more than half are cuddling in the center it’s too cold.

Thankfully, to adjust all you have to is pop open the lid and change out the bulb or adjust using a dimmer switch if you went that route during the install.