To build a poultry brooder, create a container using cardboard boxes, form a 1- to 2-inch bedding on the floor using pine shavings, and provide a watering and feeding area on one end. Place a heat lamp on the opposite end. Put the brooder in a safe, warm and dry location, such as the living room, garage or barn.
The container should have a height of at least 12 inches if the chicks are between 1 to 3 weeks old and a minimum of 1 square foot of space for each chick. When the chicks turn 6 weeks old, build 24-inch high walls to prevent them from getting out of the container. Alternatively, cover the container with hardware cloth, or staple a window screen to a wooden frame, especially if pets and other animals threaten the chicks.
Use nipple-style waterers to maintain proper hygiene and keep the chicks healthy. If you opt to place the brooder in the living room, use a 100-watt incandescent bulb inside a clamp-on utility light as a heat source for the chicks. Position the bulb 12- to 36-inches high from the brooder's bottom by hanging the light fixture with a chain connected to a hook atop the brooder.
Choose a heat lamp if you intend to put the brooder in the garage or barn. Alternatively, purchase a brooder heater for safety.