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Raising broiler chickens without a heat lamp?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 93
Location: Tasmania
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Hello,

Just wondering if anyone here has raised broiler chickens on a small scale without a heat lamp or mother hen?

From what I've read, day-old chicks are kept under a heat lamp for the first couple of weeks. We don't have much electricity for that at the moment, so I am looking for alternatives... One idea was: If I raised just one batch of chickens starting from mid-summer, would the warmer weather then mean that a small shelter made out of straw bales would keep them warm enough at night?

Is there anything else I could do to keep them warm enough without a heat lamp?
 
Posts: 167
Location: On the plateau in TN
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Very young you can use a card board box with some straw on bottom inside your house.  At I recall about 2 weeks old you can start transitioning them outside.

https://permies.com/t/76861/critters/Feeding-Chicks-day-ready-lay
 
Posts: 54
Location: Winters, California
dog greening the desert tiny house
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Here are a couple of older threads about raising chickens off grid and/or without a heat lamp:
https://permies.com/t/60088/critters/Keeping-chicks-warm
https://permies.com/t/55260/critters/raising-chicks-offgrid
 
Posts: 229
Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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Coincidence.

The chick were hatched on 17/9/18 and I purchased them a few days later. They’ve been kept in a big transparent plastic tub, in a spare bedroom since then and will go outside in a week or so when close to being fully feathered – yes, they are starting to smell a bit, so weekly cleaning (or more) is needed.

2 x  Light Sussex
3 x Black Austrlorps
2 x Wyandottes (red laced, and blue/red laced I think)

So they're not broilers - hopefully!

I purchased the following items to ensure they’re okay:

1. the big plastic tub with lid
2. a 7 watt reptile pad that operates via mains power – these are stuck under fish tanks by people who keep reptiles and frogs
3. a large bird cage type waterer – an absolute must as they consume A LOT of water, and also dirty it several times a day!
4. a bale of wood shavings for bedding along with four or so sheets of newspaper
5. a sack of chick starter – they eat like horses!
6. two of the commercially made feeders and waterers that will hang from the larger cage outside

Additionally, I made a feeder out of some scrap sheet metal, which will do until they go outside.

I drilled about eight air holes down low on the tub – two on each side. Two additional holes to thread wire through to hold the metal feeder in place, and a series of holes to keep the waterer up off the floor and to raise its height as the chicks grow.

During the first three weeks, they huddled together over the heat pad and I used a normal electric fan heater to warm the room they’re in, and left the lid on the tub ajar with sturdy chocks beneath it – kept them warm but with good ventilation. Their body heat was enough to fog-up the inside of the tub on cool mornings!

From the third week till now I’ve totally removed the lid and fashioned a rough bird wire top to stop the little bastards from flying out, and provide very good airflow. The heat pad remains on all the time.

At about three weeks old introduced them to dandelion plants, roots, flowers and all – they don’t eat it as much as vacuum it up! They really like the dirt on the roots – minerals and grit.

The entire kit can be placed in the tub, secured and stored for future use, so it is somewhat economical. (Patent Pending!)

Without a mother, the chicks will not survive till they get feathers – they’re babies after all and need warmth to properly develop. I purchased them from a Poultry Club member and breeder – my amateur setup approximately mimics his professional arrangement.

The chicks are 31 days old today and fighting fit – so proof in the tub!
 
Kate Downham
pollinator
Posts: 93
Location: Tasmania
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Thank you all for the responses. It's good to be able to know about it before I try. The 7 watt reptile pad that F Agricola mentioned sounds like a great idea.
 
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A brood heater like I in the link is great, I bought the titan one and it work just right for me rasing the 9 chicks I hatched for my laying stock. I only went this route because I hate going to work and leaving a heat light on and since my garage isn't well insulated I keep the chicks inside for the first few weeks and no one wants that worry of a heat bulb falling over and burning down that house. They are a little pricey but for the peace of mind I found it to be a good investment I would recommend the top they sell separate or fashioning something as soon as the chicks can jump they were on top of it coving it with their droppings. I am actually thinking of buying another as well since after rasing my own meat chickens last year and being down to the last few in the freezer I want to up my number this season and might need another one, but I liked it and it worked very well.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_8_9?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=brooding+heater&sprefix=brooding+%2Caps%2C153&crid=3MJ22ZP5K5AUV
 
Posts: 57
Location: Zone 3-4 (usually 4) Western South Dakota, central Black Hills
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I got the same Titan brooder plate. It worked perfectly. I covered it with an old towel to make it more “mother hennish.” They don’t get hot enough even to alter the flash point of paper, let alone of a towel. The little chicks scooted in and out at need, tucking through the little openings I arranged at the corners, and the towel kept the brooder plate from being fouled. When the chicks no longer needed the brooder, I tossed the towel. Wasteful, I know, but I wasn’t going to put it through my washer, and the plastic cover for the brooder was ridiculously expensive.
 
Posts: 39
Location: Missouri Ozarks
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Kate Downham wrote:Hello,

Just wondering if anyone here has raised broiler chickens on a small scale without a heat lamp or mother hen?

From what I've read, day-old chicks are kept under a heat lamp for the first couple of weeks. We don't have much electricity for that at the moment, so I am looking for alternatives... One idea was: If I raised just one batch of chickens starting from mid-summer, would the warmer weather then mean that a small shelter made out of straw bales would keep them warm enough at night?

Is there anything else I could do to keep them warm enough without a heat lamp?



I raised a batch off grid once. Built a small, flat roof out of a 2x4 frame, covered one side, insulated it and covered the other side. Make 4 legs to keep the 'roof' 3-4 inches off the floor so they can walk under it and make them long enough to be able to raise the roof as the chicks grow. Cut up some old denim jeans to make sides that drop down. You make slits in them to basically make walk through walls. They'll huddle under it and keep warm as a group just like when they're shipped. If they get too warm, they'll come out from under it. Make the denim wall material long enough to adjust it when you raise the roof.

I did this inside a camper that had no heat and moved it outside when they got bigger (and stunk too much) It wasn't super cold here. Room temp by day and colder at night.

I found this idea on a website and it worked well.
 
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