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My family had some new additions recently! And no, not babies… well not baby humans that is. We got our very first round of chickens and we couldn’t be more excited. The lady birds arrived a few weeks ago and they are settling in nicely.


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We are huge fans of DIY projects around the home so I thought I’d share this one with you folks since it was inexpensive and easy to do.



  • 189 L Rubbermaid Tote (or something of equal size)
  • Hardware cloth – 1/2 inch openings
  • Washers and 3/4″ bolts & nuts

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  • Ratchet and monkey wrench (for tightening nuts and bolts)
  • Drill
  • Metal cutters
  • Utility knife

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  • Using your utlity knife carefully cut large rectangular openings in your Rubbermaid tote.
  • We opted to cut rectangular openings in the lid and the side of the Rubbermaid tote. This provided adequate ventilation and allowed us to watch the chicks easily. But many brooders we saw online only did the top. DIYer’s choice 😉
  • Using metal cutters, measure and cut your hardware cloth to the appropriate size for each opening. Ensure you leave yourself enough room for the nuts, bolts and washers.
  • Using a drill create holes that will be large enough to accommodate the nuts, bolts and washers you purchased. We opted for 8 sets on the top opening and 10 on the bottom.


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  • Screw your hardware cloth in place. We decided to place the washers on the outside (so the top of the bolt facing towards the inside of the brooder) for the opening on the side –  just as a precaution. We didn’t want any of the chicks hurting themselves on the bolts.


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We added electrical tape on the edges of the hardware cloth because it was sharp, but it peeled off soon after. Thankfully we haven’t had any issues with our son cutting himself on it.


  • Once everything in secured into place thoroughly wash our your brooder and line with pine shavings (or bedding of choice).
  • We placed our heat lamp directly on the hardware cloth on the top of the brooder. They chicks seems happy with the heat level so far.

Some Tips

Tip 1: The most difficult part of this project is cutting the tote. Make sure you go slowly and use sharp knife. It’s slow going but you will get through it!

Tip 2: If your chicks are huddled tightly together under the lamp they might be too cold. If they are retreating to the opposite end of the brooder they could be too hot. Watch them and they will tell you what they need.

Tip 3: Place the feeder and waterer on the opposite end of the brooder from the light. Most are made from plastic and the heat lamp could melt them if they are too close.


Our chicks are almost three weeks old and are still doing well in this size tote. We have 8 of them total. In the next week or so we may have to upgrade them to a larger space.


With chicky love,