Off Grid Animal Husbandry

Keeping animals on an off grid homestead is a little more work than your typical house or farm. Things like water heaters, heat lamps and anything else that needs to run on electricity for a long period of time is simply not feasible. So how am I able to raise two week old chicks that have to be kept at an optimal temperature of roughly 90 degrees? I have my ways! Keep reading to find out more about the livestock on my small homestead with a view.

One of the animal husbandry tasks I took on this week was getting five, two week old buff Orpington pullets. These are my first chickens, they are a hardy breed that will lay 3-5 eggs a day and do have a tendency to be broody. For me that will be okay as I plan to potential get a rooster down the road and have the chickens be mothers at some point in their lives. Since I am completely off grid I wanted to make sure I got the chicks at a time of year where I would not have to struggle to keep them warm and healthy. We have officially began summer and the evening temps are now in the mid 60’s.


So without running the generator all night, I am able to keep the chicks warm at night. How? Well let me give you the run down. I have a small brooder made out of card board boxes with enough room for the chicks to play and still have space for their water dish and food. I first placed a plastic trash bag within the box to make changing the litter an easier task. Then I went ahead and gave the chick plenty of straw bedding as I want them to be able to tuck themselves in if they feel the need to nestle. I placed a second smaller box within the first so that they have a covered area within the brooder and placed more straw within. Now to get to the part about how I am keeping them at the optimal chick temps. I take a jug of water and boil it, once the water is boiled I tuck the jug behind the smaller boxes flap so that the chicks do not come in direct contact with the hot water bottle; the heat radiates out into the box and I cover the box at night with a blanket this allows the chicks to stay nice and warm. I do this at night just before the sun goes down and early in the morning when I first wake up as this is when the inside of my house is at its coldest. So far the chicks seem to be perfectly happy with the boxes internal temperatures. The chicks wing feathers are starting to come in but I will not be home free until they are fully feathered. Baby chicks are a very fun and exciting adventure for me! I cannot wait to see my girls grow up.

I started the week by letting my two barn cats out of confinement. Feral cats when relocated have to be confined in their new home environment for 3-5 weeks so that they become aware that this is their new territory. I have been crossing my fingers they stick around to keep my mice and mole populations to a minimum as the moles have been eating a majority of my planted flowers and vegetables. Luckily I was able to get a small harvest out of my garden over the weekend (as seen on the left) but the next day two of my chili pepper plants and three of my artichokes fell victim to the moles. So far I have had moderate success, the cats have been killing mice along the walking trails and still even go into the chicken coop at night and leave me little gifts in there as well. After about three days they are now starting to be out and about together during the day. They are fun to watch pounce on each other and climb up the trees. I am happy I made the decision to get some barn buddies from the local shelter. They came already spayed so I do not have to fear any cat infestations or kitten showers as well as vaccinated and ear tipped so others in the area will know they belong here. They both came out of the same original location and seem to really enjoy the company of one another. I have yet to name my two girls as nothing has really spoke to me yet. My two dogs are named after Greek gods but I am not sure I want to keep that theme with these girls. Any suggestions from the crowd?

Well I hope today’s post was beneficial for you in some way. It is amazing how we can improvise when left with few alternatives. I have come to accept my middle name as Adapt. If we can not adapt to our surroundings or this difficult life style then we will not survive. I don’t know about you but I would like to not only survive but to thrive!


One Comment Add yours

  1. That was a brilliant idea to do a hot water bottle layered within two nestling boxes for the chicks ideal temperature. My hat is off to you!!!!! Well done.


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