Easy Low-Cost DIY Turkey Brooder Ideas
Need help finding an easy, low-cost DIY brooder for your turkeys? I’ve got you covered with reviews on four popular ideas.
A brooder is a specific area in which young poultry spend the first weeks of their lives. Turkey poults should be housed in a brooder for approximately 6-8 weeks (or longer depending on the outdoor weather conditions). By that time, turkeys are fully feathered and can adapt to the outdoor climate.
Each turkey poult needs 1 square foot of space through the first 8 weeks of life, while they are in the brooder.
Brooders can come in many shapes and sizes depending on your specific resources and gaggle size. What is more important is that your birds have adequate space, ventilation, and temperature to ensure optimal health.
Low-Cost Baby Play Pen (Pack-and-Play)
The pack-and-play is a nice option for 1-4 poults. When the turkeys get old enough to fly, they will easily be able to escape. Mesh covers made to keep insects off babies, and metal construction cloth attached to a wooden frame are good options for covers.
Price: Under $40
Square Feet: 7 square feet
Pros: Side ventilation, easily cleaned, raised off the floor
Cons: Custom cover needed, not expandable
Low-Cost Disposable Panels
Disposable brooder panels come in both plastic and cardboard varieties. They are lightweight, easy to store, and can be used to create a custom-sized brooder. Unfortunately, as the poults grow they can easily knock over the panels. A custom cover is also needed to keep poults from flying out. Due to the panels’ lightweight nature, we have personally never been able to create a successful cover that the panels can withstand. We’ve also found that the bedding is difficult to clean out without collapsing the entire brooder.
Price: $2.10 each
Square Feet: Adjustable
Pros: Very cost-effective, expandable size, lightweight, easy storage
Cons: Custom cover needed, easily tipped over, not strong, not easily cleaned
Low-Cost Kiddie Pools
The kiddie pool turkey brooder option easily solves the problem of fly-away poults, and a 45″ round pool can fit 1-6 poults. Unfortunately, with a plastic top, attaching the heat lamp poses a challenge. Additionally, you’ll need to purchase additional materials such as zip ties and metal construction cloth to complete the project.
Price: Under $60
Square Feet: 45″ Round: 11 square feet
Pros: easily cleaned, additional materials needed
Cons: not expandable, ease of heating
Low- Cost Plastic Totes
We see plastic storage totes being used a lot for brooders. They are lightweight, compact, and easy to move around. The maximum number of turkey poults for this style brooder, however, would be 1-2. Additionally, the cover would have to be adapted to ensure ventilation by cutting out a large rectangle and replacing it with metal construction cloth. The cloth can be attached with zip ties through drilled holes in the cover. Check out this DIY tutorial from the Fresh Eggs Daily blog
Price: Under $20
Square Feet: 27 Gallon Tote, 4 square feet
Pros: easily cleaned, small and compact
Cons: not easily expandable, lack of ventilation, additional materials needed
So what easy low-cost turkey brooder is best overall?
Frankly, it depends on the gaggle size you have. The disposable panels are the only low-cost brooder option that is truly adaptable to the number of birds you have. However, it is important to note that the larger the brooder enclosure that you make with the panels, the less stable they become.
For a smaller-sized group, the pack-and-play option is by far my favorite. In fact, setting up three pack-and-play pens is my personal plan for the homestead next season. I love that they offer ample ventilation, break down when not in use, and have mesh covers that fit well to stop birds from escaping. Cleaning is also simply done by removing and hosing off the bottom pad.