The rearing period of a layer chicken is between week 1 and week 30. This is the period that is key to a successful layer.
Rearing is divided into six phases, which are; preparation, pre-starter, adaption, vitality, starter, grower, and pre-layer.
Today, we look at preparing the rearing house.
The success of brooding depends a lot on a good start for the chicks. Most of the chicks have travelled for quite some time and they are looking for a safe place that provides them with water, feed, a comfortable environment and a good place to rest. Here are key points to note:
- The houses should have been cleaned, disinfected and empty for at least 14 days. The houses and their content should be dry before the new chicks come in.
- Start the heating system 24-36 hours before the chicks arrive (depending on climatic conditions). The brooder area and litter area should be warm enough with a constant temperature in the range of 33-35°C when the chicks arrive.
- Flush water lines before the arrival of the chicks, make sure no disinfectant is left in the water lines when the chicks arrive.
- Make sure that the nipples and round drinkers are at the correct height: nipples should be at eye level of the chicks and round drinkers on the floor.
- Whatever drinking system is in use, check whether the water supply is sufficient. When nipples are used, adjust the water pressure so that the chicks can see the water drop on the nipple and the water flows easily, at the slightest touch.
- If the chicks have been infrared beak treated in the hatchery, it is very important to use sideways activated nipples (360°) or nipple drinkers with cups and to use supplementary starting mini drinkers.
- Put paper under the nipples to attract the chicks and put extra feed on the paper or in cardboard trays.
- Check that all the birds, even the smaller ones, have access to feed and water.
- After a long transport duration, it is useful to wait for 3-4 hours before distributing feed, to make sure chicks first drink enough water to restore their body fluid.
- During the first 2 days use tepid water at 25°C to 30°C.
- In hot conditions, be careful not to let water temperature increase too much, as this may reduce the feed intake of the chicks. Regularly flush the water lines to maintain the temperature.
- Monitor the water consumption.
- Avoid water spillage by the chicks as this will maintain litter quality.
- Always keep the drinkers clean; for the first two weeks, they should be cleaned at least daily.