How Do I Make A Brooder For Raising Birds?


My wife and I once wanted to create a bird aviary. We aimed to grow a diverse range of birds. We already had around 6 breeding pairs of cockatiels at the time, so we must have been specialists, right?

We built our aviary, filled it with cages, and took off. But we neglected one crucial piece of equipment! A brooder for birds.

We started looking for one, not thinking it was a huge deal. We had serious sticker shock! A good brooder does not come cheap! At the very least $!50!! And I needed a lot of them! In my perspective, all of these technological devices were ridiculously pricey!

A brooder is a box or other container that keeps your newborn chicks warm and damp. It must be capable of moving air around the bird. It has to be simple to clean and maintain exact temperatures.

We were able to discover two extremely ancient and antique-looking human baby incubators from a hospital’s critical care unit. It was at least 30 years old, and it was difficult to believe they’d placed infants in it! However, it worked perfectly for us.

I examined it to see how it worked and was astounded by its simplicity. It featured a standard light bulb that provided heat, a fan that circulated air over it, and a pan filled with water. The light bulb heated the water, resulting in steam/humidity, and the fan circulated it.

How basic can it get? I could make one! So I went shopping.

I need a container or any kind of packaging. I wanted it to be made of plastic since it needed to be simple to clean, not corrode, and not have any sharp edges. I wanted to find out how to make a door so we could monitor the infants while still having simple access. What was I supposed to do with something like that?

I instantly found the ideal packaging! Van Ness has a “sifting enclosed cat pan” for sale. It’s 19 inches tall, 15 inches deep, and 10 inches broad. The “sifting” component indicates that there are two pans and a screening tray, which are designed to make cleaning your cat’s litter easier.

However, this works really well as a brooder! It is vital to clean your brooder. Remember that when you mix heat, humidity, and bird droppings, you have produced an ideal environment for the growth of all kinds of unpleasant germs and bacteria. The brooder required cleaning at least twice a day. It’s ideal to have a brooder that can be rapidly dismantled for cleaning without disturbing the babies!

Because of its height (19 inches), it was ideal for bigger birds. The electronics would be installed on the roof, out of reach.

I immediately sketched up my design. This was going to be 10 times more effective than my old human brooders!

If this seems like something you’d want to make, it’s quite simple. However, I would strongly advise you to seek the services of someone who has prior expertise dealing with electricity. If you don’t connect it correctly, you risk toasting the wires, blowing fuses, and injuring yourself.

BUYING THE PARTS

I made a components list and started shopping. I began at a pet shop.

Cat Litter Box with a Cover. This is available at most big pet shops and retail stores. Van Ness is a big brand that they all carry. If it is not in stock, it may be ordered. Search the internet as a last option.

Bulb for a Basking Light in black. If you keep reptiles, you are well aware of this. It’s a regular 60-watt light bulb that’s been painted a deep blue. It emits a dark blue glow and emits heat. This will not bother the babies and will provide more than enough heat for my brooder.

It was then over to the hardware shop.

I was in need of a light bulb socket. They have one that is quite little, made of ceramic, and takes up very little room once installed. The wire is attached with two screws.

Dimmer Control. I wanted one with a dial to control the voltage to the bulb and a button to switch on or off the light. Turning up the brightness of the bulb causes it to emit more heat. When you turn it down, you receive less heat. Isn’t it simple?

To provide electricity, I purchased a cheap extension cable. It’s far less expensive than purchasing a plug and wire and fabricating it yourself. I also purchased a container of machine screws and nuts to instal everything inside the box. A spool of connection wire is also required. Get a package of wire nuts to connect all of the wires, as well as a roll of tape to cover up any exposed connections.

I need a fan. Something like a computer cooling fan might work, but I’d have to construct a transformer to convert the electricity to 12 volts DC. What I discovered was a 120VAC fan that resembled a giant PC fan. This is available at your local Radio Shack store. This fan would be used to circulate hot air around the brooder by blowing air over the light bulb. I didn’t need a lot of air flow, but it had to be enough to get the job done.

For humidity, I used a stainless steel food dish and a sponge from my aviary. By placing the sponge in the dish and filling it with water, the water would “wick” to the top of the sponge and evaporate. This would suffice until I discovered a better approach.

To make this really functional, I wanted to be able to adjust the temperature using an electrical thermostat. It needed to be fairly adaptable in order to get exact settings between 98 and 105 degrees.

A “wafer” thermostat was utilised in the majority of home-made brooders. This was a mechanical mechanism in which a metal disc expanded and contracted in response to temperature fluctuations, activating a relay that turned off the heat source. It was correct, but only for a few months. Then it got very untrustworthy.

Every electronic thermostat I saw was either unsuitable for my needs or much too pricey. Finally, I had to settle with a Zoo-Med reptile thermostat. The sensor was placed within the box, and the controls were located on the brooder’s outside. It was reasonably priced, but not as dependable as I had anticipated. We ended up installing a temperature alarm inside the unit to alert us if the temperature became too high or low.

I also put a 120v outlet socket as an optional extra. That way, I could daisy link more brooders, put in an extra light, or anything else I needed. It was convenient to have a plug nearby.

ASSEMBLY

Now comes the difficult part. You don’t have to be an electrician to make this, but you should be familiar with electronics.

The fan should be placed at the top of the brooder. Try to instal it with enough room behind it to allow for air supply. Install the light bulb/socket such that it is in front of the fan. The fan is wired to operate continuously. The light bulb is connected to the dimmer switch. Attach the dimmer switch to the box’s top face. You can determine the temperature settings and mark them next to the dial with little experimenting.

If you choose the thermostat option, you must connect the bulb such that it is regulated by the thermostat. There are various approaches to this, so use your best judgement.

Purchase a high-quality thermometer and stick it to the front of the door. You must regularly check the temperature to ensure it does not exceed 98-105 degrees.

The only issue I’ve encountered with this box is when the birds grow to be rather large. They may be able to access the circuitry or tamper with the fan. You may want to experiment with covering the top with a screen. I only encountered this problem with this cage while I was raising huge Macaws. However, by the time they reach the roof, they have feathered out and we can switch off the electricity. The enclosure kept draughts out, and the bird was well.

This project will cost about $60 in total (without the electronic thermostat).

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