When brooding new chicks, it is not necessary to purchase an expensive brooder out of a catalog. It is definitely an option if you can afford it, but it is not necessary.
Many people also use wading pools, boxes, fish tanks, livestock troughs, or wooden boxes. Some have even converted old dressers and other furniture into brooders.
Here at Mother Udder Farm, we prefer to be as frugal as possible. We use totes that fit in our laundry room brooder shelves and can be checked quickly and easily at a glance. They also fit three side by side in the back of our SUV, which is lovely when picking up chicks, ducklings, or goslings locally or from the post office.
Most people say you need about 2 square feet per chick. We raise ours in the summer, it is very warm here. So, ours go outside much earlier and larger brooders aren’t necessary. We can get away with more chicks in a smaller space that way.
If you are raising yours in the spring or live in a cold area, you might need a larger brooder or to put less birds in yours. However, a large plastic tote works well for us.