Need versatility in your broiler or heritage pen set up? Anne Gordon recommends using snap together wire pet exercise pen panels.
You can read more about Anne’s whole Broiler Set-up here.
Wire Pet Pens
I’m a huge fan of 42-inch wire pet exercise pens because they are versatile, easy to use and can be quickly re-purposed as alternative structures around my homestead. I use them as a Cornish Cross chick brooder, then transform the panels into a broiler sleep house, and later use the wire pen as a holding cage while processing broilers and even as an over winter compost pen. The same wire pet exercise pen can be wrapped in double reflective foil bubble insulation and used to overwinter pullets and cockerels.
Wire pet exercise pens are made from welded steel wire with a rust-resistant powder coat. They easily fold up into a compact stack of 8 panels for easy storage. I’ve found the 42-inch high by 24-inch wide panels to be the most versatile. Frankly, I’d be lost on my homestead without them.
Snapping Together a Brooder
Just before chicks arrive, I assemble a brooder using 6 panels for an easy to heat, snug and secure space. It only takes me a few minute to predator-proof the brooder by attaching sections of ¼ inch hardware cloth to each panel with zip ties.
The brooder is formed into a circle using the snap clips provided to attach the ends together. These clips can quickly be removed opening the brooder similar to French doors. The two panels that have been removed are used as the top of the brooder, also attached with zip ties. This forms a 60-inch diameter structure 42-inches high. A 6-foot bamboo stake or a broom stick zip tied to the top will stabilize a hanging heat lamp attached with ‘S’ hooks. The 5-and-1/2-inch clamp light with a white nightlight bulb is also attached to the top as well aimed down toward waterer and feeder.
Plastic sheeting is laid down with 3-inches of pine flake litter. A tarp is draped over the temporary brooder which helps to retain heat and a sense of security for the young chicks. Thirty minutes later, with feeder and water in place you are ready for the chicks.
In cooler weather cardboard boxes can be knocked down flat and fixed around the outside as insulation or even double reflective foil bubble roll insulation can be used in cold weather. The insulation can also be reused several times.
Soon the broiler chicks need more room, especially during the day. A temporary run can be made by attaching a second 8 panel wire pen 24-inch high fixed to the opened brooder. With the heat lamp kept in the brooder and their water and feed placed into the run, the chicks can dash in and out getting exercise as they eat and drink.
The wire brooder pen can transform into a sleep house as a round or rectangle by attaching the two end panels with snap clips. Placed on a raised plywood floor and covered with a plywood. A brooder heat lamp can be hung from the plywood top until the chicks are fully feathered or used on occasional cool nights. Toss a 12-foot x 12-foot tarp over the entire sleep house to keep the drafts out and warmth in. Again, if overnight spring temps drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit I wrap the pen with reflective foil bubble insulation. During summer, the wire pen provides much needed ventilation that is essential for Cornish Cross broilers.
A wire pen can be used as a confinement pen as well as part of your processing set up. The sleep House can be easily knocked down, moved to the processing area – and used as a confinement pen. Then once the Cornish Cross broilers have been processed, the wire pens can be folded up and easily stored for next season. An easy and quick tear down for storage and tucked away for next year!
Or after processing, the sleep house can be used to overwinter pullets and cockerels as a 4-by 4-foot coop insulated w/Reflective bubble on 3 Sides and clear bubble window over door and 4-foot wide-by-2-foot high window on south side. Snug inside, 9-week Plymouth Rock layers bask in the morning sun at the 4-foot bubble window that warms their house in 30-degree weather.
Anne Gordon is a backyard chicken owner with a modest chicken operation that includes layer chickens and Cornish Cross broilers. Anne lives on Cumberland Mountain in TN with her two English Springers Jack and Lucy. You can follow her doings through her website Life Around the Coop.