How to Keep Chicks & Eggs Alive When The Power Goes Out

I live at the very end of an island in the South Carolina Lowcountry, and power outages are a common occurrence here. They can, and do, occur at any time of the year, which has always worried me for two big reasons; adverse affects to my hatching eggs in the incubator and newborn chicks in the brooder under a heat lamp.

I have in the past, employed such primitive tactics as heating water on a propane burner, filling plastic seltzer bottles, then placing them in the incubator. It will work in a pinch, but you have to keep a VERY close eye on the temperature in that incubator! After my first (and second and third) outage of this type, I realized I could easily lose my eggs to the wrong temperature, so I decided to bite the bullet, spend some cash, and safeguard my Serama eggs! I use the Genesis 1588, so I decided to buy two sets of their accessory cables (one for the incubator and one for the hatcher), and a boat battery from Costco. When the power goes out, I immediately hook up the incubator and the hatcher to the battery with the cables, and I’m good to go for several hours.

Now, I still had a problem with the babies in the brooder cages; using heat lamps meant I could not rig the lamps to an alternate power source. My first line of defense was to boil some water and fill up the infamous Hot Water bottles, which would work for awhile to keep the babies warm, but still a hit-or-miss affair as far as temperature goes. I also tried out the “flowerpot and candle heaters”, here and here and here, but found them inefficient and too hot-to-the-touch to place them in a brooder cage, as well as being a definite fire hazard for this particular purpose! A couple of my readers suggested getting some hand-warmers. However, I just recently switched from the heat lamps to the Brinsea Eco Heaters, and I was VERY pleasantly surprised to find out that my cables would also work on the Eco heaters! Problem solved! Well, not quite…if my cables and battery are being used by the incubator and hatcher, that meant I needed to buy two more sets of cables and another battery for the brooders. I consider this a small price to pay for peace of mind, knowing that I will not lose any babies to loss of electricity! It is also a very SAFE solution, with stable temps in the incubator, hatcher, and brooder cages!