How to keep young chicks warm without heat lamps

Most farmers ordering chicks from a commercial hatchery or a poultry farm has to brood them for 6-8 weeks. You will wait until they develop true feathers to keep them warm. The recommended brooder temperature this period is as shown in the figure below.

 Most farmers use electric to keep them warm. But brooder lights can and have caused fire accidents. They need constant adjusting and safe securing to avoid contact with other materials. A slight interruption in power can cause you unrecoverable losses.

Which are the alternative heat sources to keep your chicks warm? In this article, we give you alternate sources of heat to keep your baby chicks warm and comfortable. They are:

Chicken AgeRecommended Temperature
1st Week92 – 95°F
2-3 Weeks85 – 90°F
3-5 Weeks80 – 85°F
5-8 Weeks70 – 80°F
8 Weeks +room temperature
chart for young chicken warmth requirements
  • Use a broody Hen.
  • Cold brooders
  • Conserve heat
  • ECO glow brooders
  • Heated water bottles
  • Heated animal pads
  • Reptile heat lamps
  • Chicken coop heaters
  • Chicken brooder heat plates
  • kerosene lamps
  • Small propane heaters

Use a broody hen.

Chicks keep warm by burrowing into their mothers’ warm feathers. Besides they generate heat by grouping close together. Where you have a few chicks, you can use a different brooding hen to keep them warm at night. You can also borrow a broody hen from a friend. Some poultry farm can rent you one for a few weeks till chicks has true feathers.

If you cannot get a broody hen, use a small animal that tolerates the cold for example a rabbit of a similar body weight to your chicks. As reported in extraordinary animal and cute animal relationships, a mothering cat in Ireland adopted baby ducks this way, watch the YouTube video below.

Cold brooders

What if you lost your mother hen suddenly? Making a Cold brooders also known as the mother hen boxes is the best and cheap option if you are dealing with few chicks. Place them in a carton, or cardboard box. Cover its base and walls with a good insulating material. You can use blankets, warm cloths, flannel strips or haystacks.

To make it more effective provide a hanging mother hen type contraption (ie mop head hanging down or similar) within the brooder. Make it of warm materials like the fluffy ostrich feather dusters that you can order from Amazon. It will help your chicks to retain their natural instinct to ‘go under Mum for warmth & comfort.  

How warm can a mother hen keep boxes. One chicken farmer reported to place a thermometer One inch from the top on the inside. While the room temp outside the cold brooder was around 14-15 degrees Celsius, the temp inside the box with chicks was 30 degrees Celsius.

Conserve heat

You will provide heat insulation methods to keep chicken warm. Methods include use of warm shavings, provide company, insulate walls and buy feather dusters.

  • Warm shavings: If you are rearing your chicks indoors the cold floor can harm them. Just like you use a warm and fluffy floor carpet and marts, provide dry shavings and saw dust to keep chicks warm. The best types are one from pine and cedar trees.  Remember to clean the house daily or when the shavings are wet.   Dry shavings will give your chicks a comfortable bed and something to burrow into.
  • Company: Two are better than one. In nature, animals like sheep and penguins flock together during cold seasons to keep warm.   Order many chicks that can group together to keep warm. You can order a conservative number of 15-30. Apart from staying each warm, ordering many chicks will help you make profits. After losing a few, you will still have enough chicks to grow to maturity. In a large number, you are likely to rear a good brood composition of cocks and hens.

Hot-water bottles

Place hot waters bottles for bed with soft covers for a simple DIY brooder. The bottles are made to retain heat for long to keep chicks comfortable. They will snuggle around the bottle staying warm throughout the night. The bottles are durable and multifunctional. You can reuse to keep yourself warm and relief pain and keep your chicks warm as an emergency measure. On the downside, you will have to wake up several times to add hot water.

Heated chicks pad

These are the ideal heat source for chicks or other young pets for urban farmers. Use it in early stages of young chicks’ life or use it during the cold winter months. The thermostat peep heated pads has internal thermostats to self regulate your chicks warmth. They are ideal for use in indoors and outdoors and you can place them horizontal or vertical in the chick’s coop.  They are cheaper than heat lamps as they only use 25 watts. The power supply cords for heated animal pads like  has rounded edges to deter chicks from chewing it

Reptile heat lamps

Those ceramic heat lamps like the BOEESPAT 150W are safer, efficient and energy saving to use than the chicken heat lamps. They provide no visible light; at night the chicks’ sleep will not be affected allowing them to grow fast and healthy. Those infrared lamps are more durable than other sources. They provide 24 hours heat and can last for 15,000 hours before replacement. Besides, they are ideal for use in egg incubators. You can buy the white or the black ones.  Ideal for Use with a 110-120 v porcelain socket.

Chicken coop heaters

Are you a farming technology enthusiast? The chicken coop panel heaters like the magicfly are the best choice to keep your chicks warm and comfortable. They come with a remote control you can use to easily see and adjust the coops temperature without entering into the coop. The heaters has a range of range of 130~160℉/ (55~71℃) and you can adjust it by pressing the button “-” or “+” on the LED display or by remote control.  You can buy the big sized one of 19.68”X14” which will only consume 165 watts which is close to 90% energy efficiency than the traditional 1500 watts heater lamp.

Chick brooder heating plate

Chick brooder heating plated like the RentACoop’s 12×12″ heat plate is cheaper to raise chicks and ducklings. Its running cost is around $ 3.53 over weeks when running 24 hours a day. In comparison, the 250 watts heat bulb will spend over ten times higher at $ 40.32 running for 24hrs a day for 8 weeks to raise 20 chicks. The brooder plate can come with a anti roosting covers and comfort feathers. It can accommodate the growth of your baby chicks where you will adjust its height using clips on its four legs.

kerosene lamps

Most of the options suggested above require a reliable source of on-grid or solar electricity. If you have no access to these, or there is power outages, you can either use the kerosene lamps or propane heaters. These were the common methods of raising chicken before availability of cheap electricity. On the down side, using fuel is expensive for most chicken farmers especially in Africa countries with expensive costs of fuel.

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1 Response

  1. May 11, 2021

    […] heat lamps if you have access to reliable electricity supply. Some of the items you can use to keep chicken warm without heat lamps are cold brooders, hot water bottles, or heated chicks pads. The same is cheapest if you are in […]

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