What is Brooding in Poultry Production?
Brooding is the care chicks and poults from one day old to six weeks of age. It consists primarily of the provision of heat, water, fed and air. Broiler chicks, pullets and poults can be brooded by natural and artificial methods. The natural is care offered by the hen. The artificial method entails the use of special appliances that supply heat.
Requirements For Brooding
Before raising birds (broilers, layers, cockerels, turkey, quail), there are basic facilities and equipment that are supposed to be made available.
Brooder house and brooding equipment
- Feeds and feeding materials
- Drugs and vaccines and other necessary things needed
- The brooder house must be construct as to provide both warmth and adequate ventilation.
- It should be located on high ground with good drainage.
- Use garble roofs and large windows.
- Floors should be concreted to facilitate easy cleaning.
- Screen the wire mesh
Brooding equipment are equipment used to supply heat in the brooder houses and for feeding and watering too. These are kerosene stoves, gas brooders, electric brooders; hot water or hot air pipes, infra-red lamps which serve as sources of heat, and the feeding troughs and drinkers.
About two weeks before your chicks or poults (turkey) arrive, check the house properly for any crack or leak. Mend as necessary then thoroughly wash and disinfect the inside of the house with a suitable disinfectant (quaternary ammonia) and leave the house to rest.
- Two or three days before arrival, cover the floor with suitable litter material about 7.5cm deep. On top of this, place rough thick paper.
- Place the brooder box in the middle and then arrange feeding and watering equipment radial from the center of the hover. The feeder should be half under the hover and half outside. All these equipment are then enclosed by a brooder ring 45cm high. This guard can be made from strong cardboard paper.
- Check all heating and lighting equipment to ensure that they are working properly.
- Two hours before brooding starts, feed should be placed in feed-trough. The drinkers which should have been thoroughly washed is filled with clean cool water.
- On arrival of the chicks, they should be rapidly unboxed and inspected individually for defects and quickly placed under the brooder.
What To Do When Brooding Broiler Chicks or Turkey Poults
- After placing chicks in the brooder, they should be closely watched to ensure that they receive adequate heat and are not subjected to draught. The behavioural reactions of the chicks will suggest whether the artificial heat is adequate or whether there is a draught.
- When chicks or poults huddle under hover or near source of heat, there is inadequate heat, where they move far from the source of heat, there is excessive heat; when they evenly spread, then there is adequate heat. When all the chicks huddle to one side, then it shows there is draught.
NB: Stop brooding after 2 weeks of brooding for broilers. It is very important.
Floor Space Requirement
|Age||Floor space cm2|
|Week 1||100-120 cm2 per chick|
|Week 2-4||250-300 cm2 per chick|
|Week 5-8||700-800 cm2 per chick|
These indicate the need for expansion of space as your chicks grow older and bigger
(increase in body size).
Adequate ventilation: Ventilation of the brooder house is restricted for the first 1-2 weeks.
For the first four days of brooding, the chicks are supplied feed in shallow feeders like egg trays or thick sheets of papers. Fresh water are supplied every day.
Apart from managing the chicks by regulating temperature, ventilation and providing feed, there are certain routine daily operations which must be followed in the same sequence from morning till evening:
- Remove all dead chicks from the flock to prevent cannibalism and possible infection by pathogenic organisms.
- Fresh feed is supplied and constantly activated with hand.
- Drinkers are taken out and washed thoroughly before being filled with clean cool water.
- There are some special operations which in short run are stress inducing but in the long run confer some overall advantages. These include de-beaking or beak trimming, deworming and vaccination.
Feeds and Feeding During Brooding
|Day 1- 6 weeks||Broiler starter mash|
|6 weeks – 12 weeks||Broiler finisher mash|
|Day 1- 6 weeks||Chick mash|
|6 weeks – 5 months||Grower’s mash|
|5-6 months||Cockerel finisher|
Day 1 – 6 weeks
6 weeks – 18 weeks
Health Management During Brooding
Health management entails procedures for preventing disease and providing supportive medication.
Broiler vaccination and medication schedule
Vaccination and medication
Route of Administration
Glucose, antibiotics and anti-stress
Infectious Bursal Disease Vaccine (Gumboro) 1st dose
Newcastle Disease Vaccine (Lasota) 1st dose
Infectious Bursal Disease Vaccine (Gumboro) 2nd dose
Consult your veterinarian for precise vaccination and medication. For more information on health management and disease prevention, visit the following link:
- Health management and biosecurity measures in poultry production
- Health practices in poultry production