What is brooding?
Brooding is provision of warmth, fresh air, clean feed and water to chicks during the first four weeks.
At hatch, the day-old chicks do not have subcutaneous fat and their feathers are ill developed. This means that they are unable to control their body temperatures until after 2-3 weeks of age thus remain vulnerable to chilling.
Under natural conditions, hens cover their chicks under her wings, up to 4 weeks of age, providing them with warmth. Under commercial poultry rearing systems, artificial warmth is provided to chicks to protect them from low temperatures.
Brooding period constitute a large and important part of the life of modern poultry. In broilers brooding period lasts 21-28 days out of the 35 days in broilers life thus any errors during brooding results to irreparable losses in performance.
Important facts about brooding
- Chicks cannot regulate body temperature until after 14 days of age
- Provide artificial heat to birds until fully feathered
- Good brooding must provide quality feeds, clean drinking water, adequate warmth and proper ventilation.
- Ventilation/air quality should never be sacrificed for warmth, birds must be kept warm but there must be adequate air circulation in the brooder.
Requirements for successful brooding
- Thorough clean out after previous crop
- Clean and adequate litter on the floor
- Properly applied clean curtains on the ventilations
- Adequate number of clean drinkers and feeders
- Suitable and functional heat source
- Reliable source of fuel for the brooder heat source
- Suitable lighting system
- Brooder guards to separate brooding area
- Brooder thermometer to monitor brooding temperatures.