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Poultry Brooding Management

Poultry Brooding Management

January 1, 2017


What is brooding?
Brooding is defined as the management of chicks from one day old to about 8 weeks of age, and it involves the provision of heat and other necessary care during chicks’ early growing period. Brooding units (brooders) are designed to house chicks from one day old until they no longer need supplementary heat (0-4 weeks) depending on the climate.


Brooding can also be termed as to the period immediately after hatch when special care and attention must be given to chicks to ensure their health and survival.


Newly hatched chicks do not have the mechanisms to regulate their own body temperature, chicks may die if temperature is not kept at the optimum.


Failure to provide heat from external sources leads to the chicks not taking adequate feed and water and this causes slow growth and poor development of organs.


Brooding can be classified into two natural and artificial brooding;
Natural Brooding;
The natural method of brooding is used on farms where only a few chickens are raised each year. Depending on the hen size, a hen broods 15-20 chicks. The broody hen provides all the warmth required by the chicks. Before placing the chicks with the hen it should be examined for good health and parasites.


Artificial Brooding
Artificial brooding can be defined as the handling of newly hatched chicks without the aid of hens. It is accomplished by use of a temperature-controlled brooder. Artificial brooding has several advantages.


 Chicks may be reared at any time of the seasons.

 Thousands of chicks may be brooded by a single person.

 Sanitary condition may be controlled.

The temperature may be regulated.

 Feeding may be undertaken according to plan.


Types of brooders
 Box brooders

 Electricity

 Charcoal burner

 Kerosene lamps

 Gas brooder

Charcoal burner brooder

 Depending on the size, one large charcoal jiko brooder is enough for 500 chicks.

 Many Kenyans have also resulted into using briquettes instead of charcoal and clay pot brooders. Briquettes also work perfectly in the charcoal burners and clay pot jikos

Kerosene lamps
One paraffin lamp is enough for about 50 chicks.



Electricity brooders

One 250 watts chicken bulb is enough for 200 chicks.


Gas brooders
This a cutting edge technology that is picking up in Kenya. The purpose of this brooder is the raising of farm animals and heating of agricultural use warehouses. It is a progressive brooder with manual ignition. It works with LPG or Natural gas depending on the model, it could be placed inside the farm buildings.

Box Brooders
A box brooder is easy to make and is basically a wooden/carton trunk with a top that can be opened or closed. The box is insulated from inside (along the sides) by hay or cloth material.
This method does not require a heat source, chicks keep themselves warm while hurdling.
This is only an overnight box and chicks are taken out during the day. Feed and water are kept out. Provide shelter and make sure the chicks are not exposed to bad weather during the day they are then returned at night.
This method is used in small scale production/ in areas where factors influencing setting up of other types of brooders are limiting.

Elements to take into consideration.
Before getting the chicks;
 The brooder MUST be cleaned well.

 Cleaning should be followed by disinfecting the brooder.

 Feeders and drinkers should be washed, disinfected and given sufficient time to dry.

 Set foot baths at the entrance with a disinfectant.

Preparing a chick/brooder guard:
 Use 2.5 m cardboard ,as brooder guard material to make a circle that uses 8 metres for 100 chicks for 4 weeks.  Fill the ring with litter material such as wood shaving, straw etc. upto 10 cm thick from the floor.  Place the heat source at the centre of the brooder ring.

 The feed trough height should be adjusted so that they rest on the litter for the first 14 days to ensure all birds can easily access feed without having to climb into the feeder.  Thereafter, feeders should be raised incrementally throughout the growing period so that the lip of the trough or pan is level with the birds back at all times  It is highly recommended that all flocks are grown under natural light.

Temperature Management
 Idyllic brooding temperatures are as measured 10 cm above the surface.  Night is the best time to observe the chicks and make temperature adjustment.

 use the behaviour of chicks as a guide if you do not have a thermometer. 

 Adequate floor, feeder and drinking spaces are also imperative.  Natural lighting and adequate ventilation should be provided for optimum comfort of the chicks.

Recommended temperatures

 Week one 32 degrees celicus.

 Week two 30 degrees celicus.

 Week three 28 degrees celicus.

 Remove artificial heating between week 3 and 4 depending on the environment.

Introduction of day old Chicks into the Brooder;
 Light the brooder heat source before the chicks arrive so that the ring temperature measure 32 degrees celcius.

 Count the chicks on arrival and keep a record.  For the first 3 days watch the chicks at intervals whether they have taken feed and water, take not of uncommon behaviour.

Major Reasons for early chick Mortality/ brooding mistakes.
 Poor brooding, high and low brooding temperature.

 Dampness in the brooder.

 Overstocking

 Inadequate feeding or drinking space.

 Carbon monoxide poisoning in the case of charcoal burners

 Feed poisoning – fungal, toxins, litter poisoning (ingestion of sawdust)

 Starvation

 Nutrition deficiency

 Genetic disorders

 Predators e.g rats, wild or stray cats and dogs.

 Parasites.

 Piling.

 Cannibalism.

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