Chickens In The Playpen, Baby In The Coop

I am learning what every first-time chicken keeper knows: chickens grow fast. At three weeks old, our 6 birds had outgrown their rubbermaid brooder. They were getting a bit too excited about their flight feathers and were constantly crashing into things, like the mesh ceiling of their brooder. They clearly needed more free ranger space.
Thankfully, my friend Meg over at Grow & Resist had the perfect solution: she had converted a portable playpen into a medium-size brooder for her girls. As luck would have it, I had an old Pack & Play lying around unused in my garage. Do all Pack & Plays go totally unused until they are pressed into chicken brooder service? My sample of two says, “yes.”
Meg’s excellent instructions for how she converted her playpen made my task simple. I did things a tiny bit differently simply because I had different junk laying around the garage, but the basic idea is the same.
Line Pack & Play with heavy-duty plastic. This is 6 mil poly I use as “heavy weight” tunnel cloche material when it’s not containing chick poop. I ran the plastic sheeting lengthwise and secured it to the edges with large binder clips.

Then I ran a second sheet widthwise and secured it in the same way. This put two layers of plastic along the bottom and gave me some serious overlap on the edges.

I covered the plastic with cardboard so the chicks wouldn’t tear it with their scratching.

Then I put down a 3-inch (ish) layer of pine shavings.

I moved the feeder, waterer and chick toys into the new brooder and the girls settled right in.

It took them about 10 seconds to start scratching and pecking away, so I assume they are happy in their new home.

I highly recommend this excellent re-purposing technique for those of you who simultaneously have chicks gettin’ bigger and an old Pack & Play lying around gettin’ dusty. Big thank you to Meg for the great idea.

In the meantime, until the chicks are old enough to move to their handsome new coop and sheltered run, the family has taken to using it as a little breakfast space/play area. Why not? It’s covered and has a great view of the garden and there are not yet any chickens living (pooping) in it.

Homebrew Husband started the Coop-As-Breakfast-Nook notion when he surprised me by bringing home some tasty breakfast pastries on my birthday and setting up breakfast al fresco. Since the coop was my early birthday present, it seemed fitting.

Of course, our son was more than happy to get in on the scone action too.

Chickens in the playpen and babies eating scones in the coop. It’s a funny life, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.


  1. says

    Very nice! I love the al fresco dining in the coop!

    Our next door neighbor is an autobody tech. and he brought us a giant bumper box to put our chicks in when they outgrew their first box. We've also taped boxes together, end to end. We never thought of using the pack n' play! We have a round one with a netted dome cover that could work…

    You might be able to use the box your trees were shipped in if you still have it, if they outgrown the pack n' play. :)

  2. says

    Great idea! They do grow fast. Mine were 4-8 weeks old when I got them and I'm sorry I didn't take more pictures as they grew.

  3. says

    Ha! Love the dining scene!
    Glad you liked the repurposed P&P idea! Using binder clips a great addition. I kept trying to use tape that lasted about 4.8 seconds as soon as the dust hit. And cardboard. I just happened to have boards that fit laying about, but cardboard would be easier- and you could move it straight into sheet mulching service =)
    Happy Birthday & Mothers Day!

  4. says

    Hilarious! My husband spent weeks building a beautiful chicken coup in our backyard, complete with a window and green roof. Days before our chicks were big enough to move in, it occurred to us that we could have made a play house instead! Our two kids were happy as can be hammering around in the coup. Well, too bad kids. They moved out and the chicks moved in. The kids still play in there sometimes, but it is not nearly as inviting now that it is covered in poop. That's ok though, the kids need fresh eggs more than they need a playhouse!

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