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Next up: outdoor brooder area

Posted by joeabbott on March 8, 2015

My New Year’s resolution was to do one shop project a month. I have a lot of tools and I continually say things like, “I can make that” or “do you want one of those” to Suzy; and yet I never seem to find time, what with all the hiking, gaming and work! Well, it’s time to make good on some of these promises.

In January I built the brooder for the chicks in our garage; I blogged about it in the Old and New post late January. I also workd on the compost bin/shed area (with Suzy): the retaining wall and rockery area that we just used to put the shed in (post 1, 2, and 3).

In February I did the lion’s share of the shed … I used a day or two into March to finish some of the pieces/parts, but this one kept me busy all month so I’m not begrudging it for counting as my second-month project.

And now that it is March, I’m taking an easy path and saying: done! Well, that is after I completed a project (a small one) yesterday.

While the day was young I headed out to the garage, gathered up some spare wood from the shed project, and whipped out the parts for the outdoor brooder our chicks would use before transitioning into the main coop. I didn’t even have a SketchUp model to build from … all in my head. That’s a reflection of how simple it was, however, and nothing else. <g>

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a single picture while building it or installing it … just a “here it is in the coop” shot. And so, to help visualize what I’m describing, I went into SketchUp and built a model just for this post!

The specs

Suzy and I talked about a few ideas:  everything from using the current brooder we have in the garage to a simple box in the corner. But, none of these ideas were ideal. For one, we like the current brooder enough to want to save it for future chickens; putting it outside will surely take a toll weather-wise. Also, it doesn’t have a bottom so it would have to sit in the sand … making it a sponge for those rainy Seattle days.

Secondly, a simple box wouldn’t have the lasting power we’d need for the potential six weeks the hens will be acclimating outside in the temp coop. Even though they’re moving to a bigger area, we’re sure they’ll consider whatever brooder we put in there as “home base”.

Also, Suzy wanted to make sure it was off the ground and the hens could find shade under it (in the event the sun was directly on the temp coop) and, finally, I wanted at least a three-sided enclosure that we could hang a heating bulb above to create a warm area for our tender little hens.

Not a lot of requirements so, with those in mind, I set out to build something simple but sturdy.

The design and implementation

I drew on my experience with the main coop and how I cut dadoes into the 4×4 legs and then cut notches into the floor … by nesting the notches into the dadoes, I had a solid floor. So, same thing here.

I started with four 17” long 4×4 legs: on one end I chamfered the edges ~30° to “round” off the top and then, on two sides, I cut 1/2” deep dadoes into about 2” from that end.


I then took a remainder of a 4’x8’ panel I’d used on the shed that was about 32”x48” and cut 3” squares from each corner.


I could then nest the 3” square notches into the dadoes in the legs and had a very solid “table” that had about 15” of headroom for the chickens to run under.


For the little box on top, I liked the idea of not needing fasteners so I found four cut-offs from the 4’x8’ panels. I had a long one that was 41” long and about 12” tall, two shorter ones that were 24” long and 12” tall, and finally another 41” long panel that was only 8” tall. Into the 12” tall sections, I cut 6” slots about 3” from their ends; in the 8” tall section I cut a 2” slot 3” from the end.


Then, I just mated the slots and had a box with one long side just a bit shorter than the other long side.


Finally, I found a couple 1”x2” boards that were about 44” long and I cut little notches in their bottoms so they could hook over the top edge of the box and provide comfortable roosting bars.


And with that, I was done. Here’s how I envisioned it in the model:


Setting up

With Suzy’s help we disassembled it from the garage, carried it up to the temp coop, and reassembled. We then ran an electrical cord from the main coop into the temp and suspended a heating bulb above the little box (now filled with wood shavings). It looks cozy as can be!


We aren’t positive the location is perfect, but it’s a good start and we’ll see how the temps hold up over night. Tomorrow will likely be the move-out date for the chickens and I’m VERY glad to get my garage/shop back! I’ll spend a couple hours re-setting it up and returning stuff to its normal placement. It’s been a long couple months to share my space with those chickens!


That’s it for my March project. I have a special project in mind that I’d like to have done by April 1 but I’d best hurry to make that date. It should be quick (more on it later) but I also need to start planning for the main coop expansion! As I think about that job … and about how long the small shed took … I’m now planning on taking time off work to make it happen. Three or four days should be enough; but I’ll take a week! <g>

But, I’ll let the future take care of itself and bask in the happiness that is March’s project being done and done well. I’m looking forward to many more months of this resolution. Thanks for coming by.


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