Charcoal chicks brooder for off the grid farmers

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Chicks around the Economical Brooder Jiko from Milele Farm. The jiko is a solution to farmers who do not have electricity. Photo courtesy.

In helping farmers who do not have electricity in raising chicks, innovators have come up with a charcoal powered brooder made from clay.
Milele Farm, a poultry rearing enterprise, has created a brooder from clay, resembling a traditional cooking pot.
Lit charcoal pieces are placed in the pot to bun and release convectional heat to the surrounding to keep the chicks warm.
Chicks require heat for the first five weeks when feathers are developing. After this period, they can maintain their own body temperature.
With a two-kilo tin full of charcoal, the Economical Brooder Jiko can run for up to 16 hours serving about 300 chicks of less than three weeks, Milele Farm Director James Mwaura said.
The brooder is made from refined clay. Clay soil is a non-metal, therefore, a bad conductor of heat. That means the releases of the heat to the brooding house is slow.
“Cooking apparatus made from clay keep foods warm longer than their metal counterparts. The economical brooder borrows the same insulation property from traditional cooking pots. The charcoal burns to release convectional heat that to keep the chick’s brooding area warm,” Mwaura said.
The pot has holes and a lid on top. The holes allow for entry of oxygen into the charcoal chamber to support burning. Because the holes are few and around the neck of the pot, the injury risk to the chicks is low.
The holes at the top of the pot also help in regulating the amount of oxygen entering the charcoal chamber. Low amount of oxygen give prolonged hours of burning, the director said.

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Apart from helping farmers, who are not connected to electricity, the jiko can also help during power blackouts.
Just like the bulb brooders, the chicks move far away from the pot when the heat is more than they need. A safety guard must, however, be placed around the pot to prevent the young birds from burning.
The brooding space has to be wide enough to allow for free circulation of air. This averts death from carbon dioxide poisoning due to crowding and reduced oxygen supply.
The Nairobi-based farm uses the jiko in raising its chicks.
A two kilogramme tin filled with charcoal, not necessarily to kilos in weight, cost between Sh50 and Sh70 in various parts of Nairobi.
That means if one if to use the brooder f for 16 hours, they will spend between Sh100 and Sh140.
Saw dust and briquettes may save farmers more energy give that their burning is slower than charcoal.
The brooders is sold at Sh1,000.
Mwaura can be reached on +254764004854