Why use a brooder?
- To promote early development of feeding and drinking behaviour. This will optimise gut, organ and skeletal development to support target body-weight gain throughout the growing period.
- It is the foundation for productive and successful poultry businesses. During the first 10 days of life, the chicks’ environment changes from the hatchery to poultry house and there are significant changes in how the chick receives nutrition.
There is no exact number of chicks that can be put in a brooder, however, in one circular brooder, place a maximum of 300 chicks and enlarge the area every three days as the chicks gain weight to avoid overcrowding.
However, under full house brooding, even 3,000 or more chicks can be brooded in one area.
The brooding area can be set up using cardboard boxes, plywood or it can take a whole room.
Planning (day-old chicks)
- The expected delivery date, time and number of chicks should be established with the supplier in advance. This will ensure an appropriate brooding place is setup and chicks can be unloaded and placed as quickly as possible. Keeping them in the chick boxes for long stresses them.
- A brooding chart is necessary for monitoring growth, mortality, feed intake and quality. The chart should be for the entire consignment.
- One key component is biosecurity which helps keep diseases away from chicks. Individual houses should carry birds of the same age. This is because vaccination and cleaning become difficult and less effective on multi-age sites. In addition, it is far more likely that health problems will occur and performance will be sub-optimal if chicks of different ages are kept together.
- Houses, the areas surrounding the houses, and all equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before the arrival of bedding (litter) material and chicks. This must be done at least two weeks before delivery of chicks.
- Management systems should be in place to prevent pathogens from entering the building. Before entry, vehicles, equipment, and people should be disinfected.
- Footbath/shower placed at entrances to the chicken farm and at the entrance to each chicken house
- Rat-proofing to prevent the rodents from entering the chicken houses because they contaminate the feeds and carry diseases
- Bird proofing: This keeps off birds which eat the feeds and carry diseases
- There should be doors to keep off larger predators and maintain the warmth in the houses. Doors must be closed at night.
- Protective gear for feet and head worn inside the house
- Isolation unit for sick chicken outside the main houses
- Dip at the entrance of the farm for incoming cars. It should be deep enough to allow in the car wheels.
Chicks cannot regulate their own body temperature until they are around 12-14 days of age. Optimal body temperature must be attained through provision of optimal environmental temperature.
Floor and air temperature at chick placement are important, so preheating the house is essential.
Houses should be preheated for a minimum of 24 hours prior to chick arrival.