Brooding Of Chicks

Brooding Of Chicks

IBrooding is the art and science of rearing baby chicks. A newly hatched chick does not develop the thermoregulatory mechanism fully and takes about two weeks to develop this mechanism and homeostasis.  Therefore, they cannot maintain the body temperature properly for the first few weeks of life; and may be subjected to chilling, if not properly taking care of.  Brooding can be classified into natural and artificial brooding.

Natural brooding
It is done with the help of broody hens after hatching, up to 3 to 4 weeks of age.

Artificial brooding
          In artificial brooding large number of baby chicks are reared in the absence of broody hen.  Equipments used for brooding are called brooders.  Brooder comprises of three elements:

    1. Heating source
    2. Reflectors
    3. Brooder guard

Heating source may be electrical,  gases like natural gas, LPG and methane, liquid fuel like kerosene, solid fuel like coal, wood can be used as a heating material.

1) Charcoal stove / kerosene stove:

Charcoal stove
Charcoal stove

Where electricity is not available, ordinary charcoal / kerosene stoves are used to provide supplementary heat to chicks.  These stoves are covered with plate / pans to dissipate the heat.

2) Gas brooder:

Gas brooder
Gas brooder

Natural gas, LPG or methane is connected to heating element which is hanged 3 to 5 feet above the chick to provide heat.

3) Electrical brooder:

Electrical brooder
Electrical brooder

It is also thermostatically controlled heating system that spread required amount of heat uniformly above large area, this avoid crowding of chicks under brooder directly.  One electrical brooder can be used for 300 to 400 chicks.

4) Infra-red bulbs:

Infra-red bulbs

It is a self reflecting bulb.  One 250 watts IR bulb can provide brooding for about 150 to 250 chicks.

5) Reflectors:

Light reflector
Light reflector

These reflectors are called Hovers.  Flat type hover – These hovers are provided with heating element, heating mechanism and pilot lamp and in some cases thermometer is also there in order to record the temperature. Canopy type hover – These reflectors are in concave shape consisting of ordinary electrical bulb, thermostat mechanism and in some cases thermometer.

6) Brooder guard / chick guard

Brooder guard
Brooder guard

They are used to prevent chicks from straying too far away from heat supply until they learn the source of heat.  We have to provide brooder guard with a diameter of 5 feet, height of the brooder should not exceed 1.5 feet.  For this purpose, we can use materials like cardboard sheet, GI sheet, wire mesh, and mat etc. depending upon the season of brooding.  During winter season, brooding is done for 5-6 days.  In summer season it is 2-3 weeks.

Receiving of chicks

  • After culling the previous adult birds, clean and disinfect the poultry house.
  • 3 to 4 weeks interval may be provided between 2 batches as down tome.
  • Form a circle of about 5 feet diameter with brooder guard. The 5 feet diameter brooder can hold about 200 to 250 chicks.
  • At the centre of brooder guard, provide any one of heat source like IR bulb, ordinary incandescent bulb or gas brooders.
  • Spread litter material about 2” height in a circle and then spread old newspaper over the litter material.
  • Arrange feeders and waterers alternatively like cart-wheel fashion.
  • Check the brooder for proper temperature 24 hours prior to arrival of chicks.
  • Switch on the brooder heating source several hours before the arrival of the chicks in order to maintain required brooding temperature.
  • Spread ground maize or rava or fine mash / crumble feed on the old newspaper for 1 or 2 days.  Afterwards, they will learn to consume feed from the feeder.
  • Provide electrolyte, glucose and vitamins in the drinking water for first 2 to 3 days to overcome stress.  After arrival of chicks, moist the beak and leave the chicks under heating source.
  • Maintain a brooder temperature of 90 to 950F for the first week and then reduce 50F every week until it reaches the room temperature.
  • Watch the behaviour of chicks in order to find out whether temperature provided is correct or less or more.  In case of too much temperature, we can reduce the heat by reducing the power of the bulb or we can raise the heating element.  In case of too low temperature, we have to supplement more heating source or we can further down the heating element.  In case of chill weather or chill breeze, we can provide curtains towards the wind direction.
  • Remove the old newspaper after 3 days and destroy it by burning.  If necessary, spread another set of newspaper.
  • Remove brooder guard after 7 to 10 days depending upon the season.  While removing the brooder guard, see that the corners of the sheds are rounded in order to avoid mortality due to huddling.
  • Change the feeders and waterers according to age and requirement. 
  • 24 hours lighting programme may be adopted during 0-8 weeks of age.  One hour darkness may be provided to train the chicks in case of any power failure.
  • Medication programme: First and Second day – Electrolytes and vitamins.  3rd to 7th day – Antibiotics.  (Other medications as and when required).