We weren’t worried when a 37-degree north wind took to blowing on Saturday, March 25th. Our chicks were safe inside the barn brooder. Then, our electric power went out. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem. Our wood stove keeps the house warm without electricity and we have camp stove for cooking. And the adult chickens do well in most weather.
However, the sudden unexpected loss of electricity threatened our 50 baby chicks living in a plywood brooder under heat lamps out in the barn. Electric heat lamps normally keep them snugly warm in the otherwise cold barn.
We heard about the power failure while shopping. It took a half hour to get home and we found the cold chicks huddled together in a vain attempt to keep warm. We had no idea how long the power would be off so immediately put our back up plan in place. Here’s what we did:
- Filled two plastic jugs with hot water and placed them near the chicks. The babies immediately snuggled up to the warm bottles.
- Tore the plastic covering off six chemical hand warmers to activate them. These are sold to farmers, carpenters, and hunters to keep their pockets warm during winter outings. They get very warm but not hot. We put them under the chicks.
The milk jugs and hand warmers didn’t warm the entire brooder, but they did keep the chicks warm enough to survive three hours until the power came back on.
Anyone brooding baby chicks should have a back-up plan to keep their peeping friends warm in case the electricity goes out. A couple of milk jugs and a few hand warmers can prevent a disaster.