Want to know if you can brood chicks without electricity? You can!!

Discussion in 'DIY / Self Sufficiency' started by BriColie, Feb 18, 2017.

  1. BriColie

    BriColie Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 13, 2017
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    I would love to share our adventure on the BriColie Homestead & about brooding our chicks without electricity (heating lamp that is).

    My husband & i bought property last spring to homestead on. We live totally off-grid (think of it as poineer-living ;) we cook on a woodstove in the winter & come warmer months, we cook on an open flame aka campfire.) We are in the process of making a root cellar, we live by candlelight at night, i wash all of our clothes by hand, we have built our home from the ground-up with our own hands, & my dutch oven has become my new best friend. :p

    We really wanted to get started on our homestead early last fall with adding animals. We heard chickens were one of the easiest to start with, so we started building a coop made out of scrap wood from our house (maybe not the prettiest coops, but they are sturdy & made for the job they were intended for).

    Well, when we first moved onto our property, we were camping in a decent size cabin tent with no electricity (we have recently ordered our first solar panel kit, though! But not for lights, as we've learned to love our candlelight - but for a deep freeze). So, how were we suppose to brood all these chicks without a heating lamp? Well, we went searching.

    We knew brooding could be done without electricity because over 150 years ago when electricity was unheard of, people would brood chicks without heating lamps. But what did they use? Well, we found a reliable source that said to try hot water jugs. So, we did.

    First, i must say, if you are looking to brood chicks, the best time to do it is during warmer weather months, as your chicks have a higher rate of surviving because it's warmer. This will help tremendously, especially if you're working with no electricity.

    Secondly, i never depend on chicks producing their own heat, even in a large group. However, if you have a larger group of chicks & are brooding them properly, then their body heat (& mainly from their heat source) will help to keep each other warm & help them thrive & survive. So, if looking to brood with no electricity, the bigger the flock the better. (We started with 15 chicks.)

    How to make a brooder without electricity:

    We got a simple box. Free from a shopping trip & turned that into our brooder.
    We put a piece of osb board on the bottom, then layered with newspaper, then layered with pine shavings.
    We made sure they always had clean water & food.
    We took 3/4 of 1 gallon of water (measured by eye, no exact amount) & boiled it. Then we added the boiling water back to the rest of the water (as to not make it too hot & burn the chicks).
    We always used a thermonitor to check the temperture on the jug & in the box.
    We managed to keep it at 90-100°F with hot water jugs.
    Our days mainly stayed warm in the early fall & usually didn't drop below 60°F. However our nights were sometimes low 40°F.
    We'd change the hot water as little as twice a day to as much as 4x a day/night, mattering on the temperture outside & in the box.
    On colder days, DH would wrap the gallon jug with tar paper to help keep the heat in - we even made a cover-top to fit over the brooder from tar paper, with ventilation holes of course, to keep the heat in as much as possible...this was mainly used during the colder nights & during the day we could keep them warm in the Sun by opening the top - just make sure you keep an eye on their temperture. (If they start huddling together, then it's getting too cold & the temperture needs to get checked...add more hot water if needed & put the lid/cover back on.)

    I was actually really surprised how easy & manageable this method worked. All 15 of our chicks survived. & we've learned how we can brood without a heating lamp...the very old-fashioned way. ;)

    I hope you enjoyed reading! xx

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    Brigitt, CooksCritters and Jadesun6 like this.
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Nice read, thank you for sharing. can you tell us approximately how hot the water in the jug was when mixed? More than warm to the touch? Did the chicks snuggle up against the jug, or snuggle AROUND the jug?
     
  3. BriColie

    BriColie Out Of The Brooder

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    Yea, absolutely. We learned to keep a sticky thermonitor on the jug...usually ranged from 100-115°F...warmer to the touch, but NOT hot...if it is hot, above 110-115°F or hot to the touch then just wrap it in felt or tar paper...still keeps them warm but won't hurt them.

    We kept all things in corners (food, water, & hot water jug.) This was to keep them grouping in the corner & potentially hurting or sufficating themselves. This method worked great for us. They would all huddle around the jug for warmth when it got too cold for them. We'd put the cover on & check back on them & they'd be running around from all the warmth, happily content.

    You can also cover the corners of the box & put the jug in the middle of the brooder...whichever method works best for you - which would prob be best, especially with a bigger flock than our's. ;)
     

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