A new trend is sweeping the Internet, giving new life to those banned drop side cribs that are no longer recommended for use with babies. Yes, these cribs deemed unsafe for human use are finding a new purpose in the hands of backyard chicken enthusiasts all over the country. What, you may wonder, are small scale chicken farmers doing with drop side baby cribs? It’s genius really. They’re putting them to use as chick brooders, and the cribs are simply perfect for this job.
I happened to have a drop side crib in my garage. My youngest had safely used the crib, but after she outgrew it I really didn’t know what to do with it since it was now a banned item for resale. It seemed a shame to add to the landfill with a crib that had been quite sturdy and was still in good condition, so ever since my daughter moved to a big girl bed, the crib just rested there in the garage, waiting for a purpose that might never come.
Drop side cribs reborn
Last month, Jennifer Crotty, an artist and backyard chicken enthusiast herself, sent me a message and asked if I still had my crib. She told me what she planned to do with it, and I was intrigued. She’d seen a similar crib turned into a chick brooder on the popular Dogwood Acre Chicken Farm page on Facebook, a favorite among homesteading chicken fans. She knew my crib would be perfect for adapting to the same use.
So, I gave Crotty my crib and she set to work. First, she built a box for the chicks with sides tall enough to prevent a draft and just the right length and width to fit on top of the springs inside the crib. Then she put together the crib itself and painted it black to match the Parisian theme of her chicken house, Le Palais de Poulets.
Crotty added chicken wire inside the rails to keep adventuresome chicks from plunging to the floor. She also trimmed the bottom of the crib with a fabric skirt, providing an attractive storage space for the chicks’ food and other supplies. Finally, she finished off the brooder with a heat lamp to keep her chicks warm and a chalkboard to make notes as they grow.
What a great idea!
I love seeing my daughter’s old crib remade as Crotty’s fancy chick brooder. Her newest hatchlings are already enjoying their temporary home. They’ll stay in the brooder for about six weeks, weaning slowly off the heat lamp until they are big enough to maintain their temperatures and make the move to the chicken coop outdoors.
I talked with Annette Guffey, the owner of the Dogwood Acre Chicken Farm page, about how she came up with such a creative idea and what she thinks of how quickly it has grown in popularity. She said her husband actually found the crib she repurposed on the side of the road and picked it up because he enjoys refinishing old furniture. But a few months ago, when she was looking for something to turn into a new brooder, she remembered the crib and they gave it a go. Her research turned up only a single similar project back then, but a quick look around Facebook reveals many such brooders today.
I’m a big fan of recycling when possible, and repurposing these banned drop side cribs in such a creative way is truly a great idea. If you have an unusable drop side crib taking up space in your garage, consider giving it a new life by donating it to a backyard chicken enthusiast. They might be so happy you won’t have to buy eggs for a whole season.