How to keep your chicks warm without electricity
Which are the alternative heat sources to keep your chicks warm during a blackout or power outage? A slight interruption in power can cause you unrecoverable farm losses if you are in commercial chicken farming. In this article, we give you the best alternate sources of heat to keep your baby chicks warm and comfortable. They are also applicable for farmers in remote regions without a connection to the national power grid system. They rely on heat conservation, us of fuel for heating etc. They are;
- Use a broody Hen.
- Cold brooders
- Conserve heat
- 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 brooding hen to keep them warm at night. You can borrow one from a friend or hire one at a cheap fee from a poultry farm 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 or a bunny 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.
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.
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 birds 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.
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.
kerosene lamps and charcoal jikos
You can use charcoal jikos, kerosene lamps and propane heaters to warm chicken houses. 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 countries with expensive costs of petroleum fuel.