A good climate is more than just a good temperature! It is a combination of several factors. The speed of air through the windows into the house, temperature, humidity, CO2, ammonia and direct or indirect daylight are important factors which determine whether the chickens and chicks are comfortable. Whenever you enter a hen house, it is important to assess and if necessary adjust the climate. The distribution of the birds will also be affected by ventilation. To refresh the air in the poultry house, ventilation is essential!
Ventilation is hard to manage, especially when your poultry houses are open houses. Always make sure there is no draught or wind at chick level.
At least 3 days before the arrival of the chicks, the rearing facility must be dry and clean.
Provide clean and dry litter!
The temperature must be at least 35 ºC and directly after arrival 38 ºC. The behaviour of the chicks will tell you whether the temperature is too hot, too cold or just good!
The humidity must be between 50% and 70%. You can measure this using a thermometer.
The chicks’ temperature must be 40 ºC approximately 6 hours after delivery. An ear thermometer is easy to use for this purpose. If no thermometer is available, place the chick’s feet on your cheek. The temperature of the feet should be exactly the same as the temperature of your cheek.
The minimum ventilation depends on the carbondioxide and ammonia levels. Never close the house completely, you can lock the doors to keep out intruders but leave the ventilators and windows open-only covered by wire mesh.
After the first week, the temperature may be lowered to 30 ºC. You can again measure temperature using a thermometer. Assess the chicks’ comfort by checking their temperature and their behaviour. If they cuddle together in a corner, then know they are not getting enough warmth.
The temperature can be gradually reduced from 30 ºC at the end of week 1 to 18 ºC in week 8. You can do this by pulling back the heaters (be it sigiri or pot) away from the chicks.
The climate in the rearing facility must be in line with the climate in the laying house. If it is not the same, the chicken may not adapt so easily.
If the temperature is too high, increasing air movement is a good way to cool down the apparent temperature and thus improve the climate. The ideal apparent temperature is between 18 and 22 ºC. Modern poultry houses now have air fans inside
Working with under pressure ventilation is only advisable if the house can be closed. Otherwise hanging fans can be more sufficient.
The quality of the reared hen is not only determined by hygiene, climate, water supply, vaccinations and feeding strategy, but also choices regarding housing density. Density is the number of chicken stocked in a chicken house of a given size. The density is largely determined not by the first week of rearing, but by the last week of rearing. If reared in a house in more numbers than it should have, chicks will show an impaired development, lower egg weight or bone strength and it can even result in feather pecking. A too low density will not be cost effective.
Density recommendations per period
0 – 4 weeks 20-25 chicks per m2
4 – 10 weeks 10-15 chicks per m2
10 – 16 weeks 9-10 chicks per m2
16 weeks 6-7 birds per m2 (floor system).