THE BROODING period is one of the most important phases during the life of your chicken and, if done incorrectly, may result in financial losses to the farmer.
When the chicks are born they are unable to maintain their body temperature. They will, therefore, require the assistance of an external source to achieve this.
Chicks need to maintain a body temperature of 105F for a period, of seven days. After this period the chicks are then able to better regulate their own normal body temperature.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Preparing for chick arrival
Clean and disinfect facility and equipment
A brooding area should be created that will comfortably accommodate the chicks
Curtains can be used to maintain the temperature in the brooder
There are various choices for bedding material, the most popular being rice hull or coarse wood shavings
Whatever material is being used, it should be levelled and spread to a thickness of 10 cm (4 inches). This should be done at least one week before arrival of the chicks to ensure litter is completely dry
Place newspaper over the litter to avoid chicks picking at it
Preheat the brooding area a couple of days before the birds arrive to ensure that the litter is heated to the proper temperature. Preheating will also give farmers a chance to ensure that all equipment is working properly
A 250-watt heat lamp placed just at the right height can provide enough heat for 500 baby chicks
Make sure you have enough chick fonts or Plassons (a Plasson is a cage cup specially designed for all types of poultry reared in cages) or water supply containers
One Plasson can supply water for 75 to 100 birds
Have the water containers filled with room temperature water when the birds arrive
Water must be clean and fresh. Glucose and vitamin mix/mineral can be added to the water for the first three days
Birds must be offered water as soon as they arrive on farm
Place chicks carefully within the brooder guard
Feed birds approximately three hours after arrival with chick starter.
The temperature of the brooding area should be 32C (90F) and should be reduced gradually by 3C (5F) after the first week until 21C (70F) is reached
Ensure that the heat is distributed evenly throughout the brooding area and that there is plenty of fresh air.
Young birds are very susceptible to drafts
Observe the flock carefully, they are your best thermometer.
Huddled birds are too cold, and birds that are panting and crowding against the brooder guard are too hot
If the temperature is ideal, the flock should be evenly spaced over the entire brooding area
Successful brooding will ensure a healthy flock, low mortality and proper weight gain and successful poultry farming.
Information courtesy of the Rural Agriculture Development Authority Communications and Public Relations Department. Call 1-888-ASK-RADA for further information