“People fear brooding, saying it is a risky stage in poultry, yet it is easy if one follows the right procedure. To get another person brood for you, it becomes expensive yet you can do it yourself and save money. Remember, you need to minimise expenditure to maximise profits,” explains Alex Mbonigaba, the sales manager of Kafiika Feeds.
Mbonigaba says whatever a chicken will be starts on day one, because if chicks get stunted, there is very little a farmer can do to improve them.
On stocking, make sure your chicks weigh not less than 40g, check for disabilities and also have a record of whatever transpires.
Dr Geoffrey Mukama, the technical sales representative of Koudjis, says hygiene should be at its best during brooding because the chicks are as delicate as a baby, so they must be given special care to grow well and at the required rate.
“The brooder should be weatherproof, where the moisture inside is controlled. It should control coldness from the chicks, strong winds and its roof should not be leaking when it rains. Also, rodents, such as rats, wild birds and cats should be kept out of the brooder,” he says.
Aeration should be given special consideration.
“Many farmers think a brooder must be covered completely, which is wrong because it may cause suffocation and death to the chicks and the farmers due to carbon monoxide gases,” Mukama says.
Brooders must have open space, but from up because if air does not go through, the house will not dry and the bad gases will not be blown out.
Before stocking, the house must be swept and washed if it was used before. Also, disinfect it and all the equipment, such as feeders and drinkers.
In case you are using nipples, they should be disinfected as well so that if there are any germs from the previous stock, they are killed.
Curtains (these can be tarpaulins, leather or black polythene used in building), too, must be cleaned. Also, ensure the house is warmed up well at the temperature of 33 degrees Celsius on the ground on the first day.
Mbonigaba says farmers should be observant of their chicks to and take note of their reactions and changes.
For example, when chicks crowd around the heat source, it means the heat is not enough and when they are in one corner, the heat might be too much or they are scared of something.
“Use husks, especially from coffee and these should be even in size. This is because husks from timber do not absorb water and chicks may peck on them and get choked,” Dr Mukama warns.
Water and feeds should be put into the house before the chicks are introduced. The feeds should be of the best quality, such as Galdus Pre-starter, with the suitable particles.
The feeds should be placed on paper on the first day to enable chicks reach them, but still have feeders in the house to familiarise them with where to get the feed.
How many feeders and drinkers should be put in each brooder?
The number of feeders and drinkers depend on the size of the brooding area. However, each circular chick drinker is enough for 50 chicks. This means that if you have 300 chicks in the brooder, you need five drinkers. For feeders, leave a space of around 2.5cm for each chick.
Is light necessary during brooding?
Yes it is. This is because it helps the chicks to see the feeds and water.
Light must be provided for the first three days of brooding because chicks should eat 24/7. This means that as the sun goes down, light an artificial source of light and put it in the brooder area.
You need at least five bulbs for a house with 500 chicks or at least three lanterns for 500 chicks.