Originally written by Vishal Tandan ,B.V.Sc &AH  IAAS,Paklihawa          

A newly hatched  chick in unable to regulate it’s body temperature. So brooding is necesaary. Brooding is the caring and rearing of newly hatched chicks until few weeks of age when they develop the thermoregulatory mechanism and homeostasis. Brooding supports new chicks in adaptation.

Brooding can be natural or artificial. Natural brooding is done by the broody hen. A greater part of brooding is done by the mother, so easy for the caretaker. However, a single hen cannot brood greater number of chicks at a time.

 Artificial brooding is in the absence of broody hen and under responsibility of caretakers. The broiler chicks in large poultry farms are brood artificially. The production of poultry in future is directly linked up with the growth rate of first week chicks. So, brooding needs to be effective.

The most important aspects that need to be managed are – temperature, relative humidity, ventilation, lighting hours, feed, and water.

👉Managements prior to chicks arrival

  • Before the chicks arrive at brooder house, all the necessary arrangements must be done. The chicks will be arriving after a long journey, so they need a stress free environment.
  • Farm house or brooding house is disinfected and cleaned properly after previous flocks have removed.
  • The heating source, lighting element, ventilation, feeders  and water buckets are properly managed. Tentatively 3 feeders and 3 water buckets are needed for every 100 chicks.
  • Litter material of about 3 to 4 inch is prepared.
  • Chicks may stuck small litter particles as they will be coming hungry and under stress. To prevent this, old newspapers are spread over the litter material.
  • Brooder temperature is checked 24 hours prior to chicks arrival i.e.. 35 °C.

👉Area of broader house( broiler):

First week 40 chicks per m2
Second week 30 chicks per m2
Third week 20 chicks per m2

As soon as the chicks arrive at brooder house, they are provided with electrolyte and multivitamins in clean water to reduce stress. Active chicks and chicks with around 40 gm  weight are considered good.

👉Temperature and ventilation:

The brooding temperature and ventilation have to be managed according to the age of chicks. Especially in winters, brooding temperature and relative humidity are vital. Bad ventilation can reduce the growth rate of chicks and can lead to problems like ascites( accumulation of fluid in the abdomen ). For heating gas brooder( 1 for 500 chicks ) or electric brooder  ( 100 watt for 25 chicks) is used. Electric bulbs are also used as heating source. Temperature reading can be made easy by using thermometer.

Age of broiler Brooding temperature
First week 95°F
Second week 90°F
Third week 85°F
Fourth week 80°F
Fifth week 75°F
Sixth week 70°F

In the absence of thermometer, we can determine whether the temperature is suitable or not, by monitoring the chicks behaviour towards the heating source. If the temperature is not enough  ( cold), the chicks will huddle together near the heating source. If the temperature is too much ( hot), the chicks will move far from the source in a ring. If the temperature is just right, the chicks are evenly distributed around the brooder area.

Above is the representative diagram. The central circle is heating source and the red spots represent chicks in various locations.

👉Lighting hours:

Chicks remain active and take feed and water in light. So the growth of chicks also depends upon the light. For light; 1 watt bulb @ 2 to 3 ft2 . The light source can be 1.5 to 2 m height from the litter surface.

Age ( days) Lighting hours
1 to 4 days 24 hrs
5 to 8 days 22 hrs
9 to 12 days 21 hrs
13 to 20 days 19 to 20 hrs
21 to market age Increase in similar manner.

👉 Feed and water management :

fig::Level of drinkers and feeders

For first week feed can be provided spreading on trays. After first week feeder can be used. As soon as the chicks arrive at the brooding house, it is good to provide electrolyte, multivitamin, prebiotic and supportive antibiotic. 24 hours fresh water supply is needed. It is better to provide feed time to time than more at a time. Generally, for every 100 chicks, we can use 3 feeders and 3 drinkers. The level of drinkers and feeders should be managed at the level of bird’s back.

Feeds and feeding time for broilers:

B0 – Prestarter 0 to 14 days
B1 – Grower 15 to 24 days
B2 – Finisher 25 to 42 days

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