By Pete Athans
Chickubator? That’s my name for a wooden box used to house baby chicks until they’re ready to hang with the big girls in the coop.
Day-old chicks arrive weekly at our local feed store come early spring and every other year our children get to pick out 6 new chicks to add to our flock.
It’s a special time for them, fluff balls peeping in their hands and laps as they all bounce in the backseat of our truck on the way home.
Some people put the chicks in their bathtub — no water included of course — but the thought of 6 chicks in the tub for a couple of months and the cleanup required might deter our kids from taking baths in the future.
Enter the chickubator. I’ve constructed a simple 3 ft. X 4 ft. wooden box from our old decking material that’s lasted 6 years so far. I don’t have the photos to give you a full tutorial, but here’s the basic sketch: Build the walls and end pieces first, or use scrap plywood. My side walls are 4′ X 3′ and end pieces are 3′ X 3′.
Then, use 1″ X 2″ strips, the same height as your chickubator walls, as your corners to add stability and a nailing surface. Using 2 1/2″ wood screws on the corners and screw your walls and end pieces together.
After 6 years, our chickubator was ready for a new floor.
I got out some scrap 1″ X 4″ cedar planks and cut them to size.
You can see, above, that I reinforced the end wall with a 1″ X 4″ due to Northwest rains and subsequent rot. We store our chickubator under our deck during the chick-raising off-season. This isn’t fine home-building, folks.
Screw the floor pieces to the bottom walls.
The box is set up in our laundry room atop 1″ X 1″ wood strips atop a tarp to protect our cedar plank floor.
Throw some shredded paper in there and you’ve got a chick home. A red heat lamp keeps them warm and apparently deters the chicks from pecking at each other. Be sure to put chicken wire over the top of your chickubator. The little peepers will start to fly in a matter of days and could get out. Or, Willa the cat could get in. I built a frame that goes around the top of the box and stapled scrap chicken wire to it. It’s easy for the kids to take on and off.
Nothing cuter than baby chicks — except maybe a puppy doting over his brood.