Raising backyard poultry sometimes means you will be starting from day-old chicks.
These young birds don’t have enough feathers to help them regulate their body temperature. Hence, you should learn how to keep chicks warm without a heat lamp.
Some people have successfully used heat lamps. But if they are powered by electricity, then it means you will have problems when living off the grid.
Heat lamps consume a lot of electric power, which is limited if you are not connected to the utility system.
In this post, we will discuss the alternatives to heat lamps. You can still keep your chicks warm all year round without the mother hen or the heat lamps.
- Why Chicks Need You to Help Staying Warm?
- 5 Alternatives To Heat Lamps for Chicks
- How Long Do Chicks Need A Heater?
- The Final Sentences
Why Chicks Need You to Help Staying Warm?
Birds are warm-blooded animals that can keep their body temperature constant regardless of environmental conditions.
They use their feathers for heat insulation, the same way you need a wooly jacket for winter.
In chicks, the feathers are underdeveloped. They cannot keep themselves warm. So, you will need to provide warmth if they are not with their mother.
Mother hen uses wings to keep the chicks warm. To raise chicks, you need a warm room to emulate the hen.
The temperature required in the chicks’ room is reduced as they grow and develop wings. That prepares them to survive without it when they are fully grown.
The table below outlines how the temperature is gradually reduced over the six weeks that chicks need to be supplemented with artificial heat.
|After 6 Weeks
|Ready for Outside!
5 Alternatives To Heat Lamps for Chicks
Heat lamps need electrical power to run, which many may not access when living off-grid.
Some can potentially cause fire, which doubles the risk when used. Fortunately, there are five alternatives to heat lamps, which include the following:
- Insulation for housing of the chicks
- Using hot water bottles and fleece
- Heating plate brooder plate
- Heated pads
- Sock filled with hot rice
Each method listed can keep chicks warm until they are ready to regulate their body temperature. But how do you go about it? Here are the details!
Insulation For Housing of the Chicks
Insulation simply means keeping the chicks’ pen warm by not allowing cold air. The heat generated is retained within the coop. You can do that through the following:
Line The Box With Mylar
The outside of a sizable box is lined with mylar. This box is then placed over the chicks, where you had prepared for them.
That preparation involves using straw, feathers, paper, or other natural materials for bedding.
The box lined with mylar should have enough ventilation holes and an entrance that allows the chicks to access food and water. After feeding, they come back to the insulated box for warmth.
Bedding With Fleece
Apart from creating the mylar-lined box, you can simply use the bedding with fleece. Fleece is a synthetic material with perfect heat insulation properties.
You just spread it on the floor to form the bedding. It will help retain heat from the chicks’ bodies and prevent them from getting cold.
Using Hot Water Bottles And Fleece
You will need a plastic gallon container and fill it with a warm temperature. You can mix boiling water with tap water at room temperature in the ratio of 1:1 to achieve perfect warmth.
The next step is cutting sizable strips of fleece and draping them on the outside of the container.
Remember to tightly close the container to maintain the water temperature. Your chicks will enjoy the warmth between the fleece and bottle.
Heating Plate Brooder Plate
This commercial product can help you keep up to 32 newly hatched chicks warm. It also uses electricity, but it is more energy-efficient and safe.
The electric power heats the underplate, radiating heat to the chicks below it.
The brooder plate stands on four, allowing the height to be adjusted. By doing so, you will be able to regulate temperature.
Brinsea Products Ecoglow Safety 1200 Brooder for Chicks
- Brooder for warming up to 35 newly hatched chicks or ducklings
- Safe 12 volt radiant-heated underside for producing uniform temperature and minimizing power consumption with no risk of fire
- Easy adjustable Height settings for accommodating various chick sizes
This device keeps chicks warm when they lie on it. Some people like it on the wall so that the heat can be radiated outwards.
Heated pads are beneficial for their low energy consumption. They are rated just 25 watts. Even if you have a large flock, you can buy many heating pads to ensure sufficient heat in the room for the chicks.
K&H Pet Products Thermo-Peep Heated Pad Tan Petite 9 X 12 Inches
- OUTDOOR WARMTH: Perfect for peeps and chickens, our heated chicken pad is specially designed to keep chickens and peeps warm when sitting or lying on the pad
- VERSITALE: Chicken heated pad is for indoor or outdoor use and with the pre-drilled hole can easily be mounted vertically or horizontally in your chicken coop to provide your flock with warmth
- DURABLE: Peck resistant features like rigid ABS plastic construction, steel encased capped cord and rounded edges make it perfect for large flocks and baby chicks
Sock Filled With Hot Rice
Fill several pairs of socks and fill them with hot rice. This setup can remain warm for several hours, keeping your chicks warm.
Chicks will huddle around the socks to get the warmth they need. The number of units you need depends on the size of your flock. So, adjust accordingly.
Baby chicks are heavily affected by the chilling moisture and draft, especially in winter. Keep them warm to enhance their health.
How Long Do Chicks Need A Heater?
Chicks need a heater as long as their feathers are not well developed. That can take up to six weeks, after which the birds can be allowed to survive on their own.
You should observe the chicks for the first few days to confirm that they are okay after withdrawing the heat source. Otherwise, you may need to reintroduce it.
Can chicks survive without a heat lamp?
Yes. Chicks can survive as long as they are free from cold and draft. There are alternative ways of keeping chicks warm apart from the heat lamp.
A heat lamp is known for its ease of use and reliability, but only if you have electricity to power it.
When can a baby chick go without a heat lamp?
Baby chicks can survive without a heat lamp or any other heat source when they reach 6 weeks old. At this time, feathers are fully developed to insulate them against heat loss.
Is it bad to hold baby chicks?
No. You can hold your baby chicks but with clean hands. They are still vulnerable to diseases, which spread through our hands and shoes.
A foot bath for disinfecting the shoes is necessary, and entry into the kitchen house should be restricted.
The Final Sentences
Don’t be worried about your chicks if you don’t have access to utility power.
You can still keep them warm using the alternative methods mentioned in this post. Just don’t burn them if you are using any of these methods.
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