Brooding refers to the period after hatch when special care and attention are needed by chicks 'to ensure they remain healthy and survive before they can be able to manage their own body temperature.
There are 5 essential factors to consider when brooding
1. Temperature management Because of the high surface to body mass ratio chicks lose heat quickly, maintaining the ambient temperatures chicks stay healthy and reach their full weight potential
2. Fresh air chicks require a high level of oxygen proper ventilation is key to maintaining good air quality
3. Clean water quality Water is an essential nutrient that impacts all body functions. providing enough clean water during brooding directly affects long-term growth
4. Access to feed Chick access to clean fresh feed is essential, chicks should never have to search for their next meal
5 Proper lighting Bright light during the first 5_7 days makes the chick active which stimulate feed consumption and overall development
Chicks do not have the ability to regulate their body temperatures; they therefore fully depend on environmental temperatures.
Too cold temperature leads to chilling which is a major cause of chick pneumonia-causing high mortalities on the 1stweek of brooding , on the other hand, extreme temperatures the brooder leads to suffocation, dehydration , and starvation due to damaged intestinal lining.
The chicks huddle together, leads to low feed consumption
There is also poor or delayed York absorption leading to poor maternal antibody transfer
This may predispose chicks to bacterial infections
The key factor in temp regulation is the floor hence the need for proper litter placement to prevent the chick from losing too much heat through the feet
It’s always good to use a brooder thermometer or observe the chick behavior
Chick behaviors communicate a lot on the brooder temperature ie
huddling together a sign of low temperatures in the brooder, Even distribution of chicks indicates normal brooder temperatures and when chicks scatter from the heat source means that the temperatures are too high
setting up a chick brooder
The brooder should be circular with the following requirements
- wood shavings There is a difference between wood shavings and sawdust, wood shaving does the following in the brooder; provide comfort, warmth, and absorbs moisture. the recommended depth of wood shavings should be 4-6 inches
- Source of heat- with the preference of a farmer, source of heat can be electricity ( infrared bulbs250wts for up to 150 chicks ), brooding jikos or pot
- Feeders and drinkers - feeders and should be clean and evenly distributed