Brooding can simply defined as
“Application of heat to the birds at early part of their life”.
Brooding is the care of young chicks by provision of optimum environment. The temperature by external heat source provided until the chicks not become able to regulate its body temperature efficiently. The temperature is most important factor during brooding. The metabolic thermoregulatory capacity of chicken develops when feathering starts at 2-3 weeks of age to replace “down”.
Chicks at earlier part of life cannot efficiently regulate its body temperature because:
1. Lose heat more quickly due to:
- Higher metabolic body size.
- Higher body temperature than adult bird.
- Lack of feathers.
2. Hypothalamus is not completely functional. When chicks hatched, the following systems not activated:
- Immune System.
- Digestive system.
- Thermoregulatory system.
Low body temperature delays the maturation of above-mentioned three systems and make chick mores susceptible to different infections.
Chicken is poiklotherm for first 4-6 days and then become homeotherm. The chicks from mature flock become hometherm earlier than the chicks from younger flocks.
Purposes of Brooding
- Proper growth of body tissues.
- Better immune system.
- Good body framework.
- Activate endocrine system.
- Good feather cover.
- Well activated digestive system.
Brooding period duration is greatly depending upon environmental temperature. Higher the environmental temperature the lower will be the brooding period. The brooding period may range from 2 weeks of age to 6 weeks of age.
Types of Brooding
Types of artificial brooding are:
- Whole House Brooding.
- Partial House Brooding.
- Colony Brooding.
- Chicks are scattered in whole area of the house in Whole house brooding.
- Partial house area is utilized in partial house brooding, usually 1/3rd in winter and 1/2 in Summer season.
- Brooding accomplished in colonies in colony brooding type.
- There is no significant difference on bird’s performance and production among different systems.
Types of brooder
1. Hot Air Furnace.
2. Radiant Brooder.
3. Pancake Brooder.
4. Conventional Hover Brooder.
Provision of Physical Environment during brooding
- Temperature Control.
- Temperature control is the most critical factor during brooding.
- Ability of bird to regulate its temperature in an effective manner will directly affect the ability to grow proficiently.
- There should be “room of error” under Pancake brooder to access the chicks for comfort zone. This room of error is not possible in Whole House Brooding or by using Hot Air Furnace.
- High and low temperature will cause loss of energy.
- To cool by panting during high temperature.
- To warm by increased heat production during low temperature.
- The rule of thumb is to provide 900°F temperature during first week and reduce 50F/week up to 5th week and maintain on 700F. Brooding temperature is always less than body temperature because bird cannot dissipate heat if environmental temperature is at or above body temperature and hence birds will feel uncomfortable and panting will starts.
- Temperature is measured at Chick height.
- Floor Temperature is a good indication of pre-heating. The Hot Air Furnace quickly heat the air but takes time to heat walls and floor. Cold floor may cause heat loss in chicks and may cause chilling in chicks
Chick Behavior during high temperature is:
- Scattering away from brooder.
- Chirping (Loud)
- Low brooding temperature idealize the risk of ascites in broiler.
- Excellent indication of environment and chicken health status.
- At high temperature, the chicks show drowsiness and panting and away from brooder.
- At low temperature, the chicks show huddling near heat source.
- 65% RH is considered as ideal all the times.
- High RH may cause wet litter which results in high Ammonia level inside the shed and Coccidiosis.
- Low RH may cause Respiratory problems.
- Never heat the house at the cost of ventilation.
- Use minimum ventilation during brooding.
- Provide 24 hours light of 2 fc for first 3 days.
- Then Provide 0.5 fc light for broiler and 0.75 fc for layer and breeder up to start of production. 0.5 fc is sufficient during laying.
- For layer and breeder, 8 hours light is provided during brooding.
- First week management
- Water and Drinker Management
- Feed and Feeder Management
- Litter Management
- Stocking Density
Watering and Feeding
Proper nutrition is always essential for better growth and production. Nutrition directly affects the physiology of bird.
Water and Drinker Management
- The chicks must provide with fresh, sweet and cool water quickly after receiving.
- 24 ml/bird water for first 24 hours must be ensured.
- The water temperature should be similar to room temperature with optimum quality.
- The higher temperature causes poorer livability especially during first three weeks of age.
- Extra small drinkers or fountain drinkers placed in a way that chick should not travel more than one meter to drink water especially during day 1.
- The height of nipple drinker should be at chick eye level for first three days and then at birds tail height.
- The pressure of water in nipple drinker kept low to show water drops on nipple pins. This will help to attract the chicks to drink water.
- The level of water in bell type drinker should be near to top.
- One nipple drinker is sufficient for 25 chicks and bell-type is for 100 birds.
Feed and Feeder Management
- Always use good quality, toxin free and fresh feed.
- The chicks GIT is immature at an early age so provide feed, which should be:
- High digestibility.
- Specific for that breed- Hygienic.
- Proper size.
- Brooding sheet or paper is used to feeding baby chicks for first 3-7 days.
- 0.35 ft2 per chick is sufficient.
Immunity in Chicks and Management
The chick vaccinated against various diseases during brooding. The maternally derived antibodies (MDA) normally protect the chick at the early days of life. The vaccine should be administrated after first especially against ND+IB. The broad-spectrum antibiotics should use to prevent bacterial infections. Improper dosing may lead to antibiotic resistance in chicks. Temperature fluctuation or any type of stress will make the chick more susceptible to different infections.
Uniformity during Brooding
- Uniformity must be maintained during brooding to get maximum uniformity during next phases.
- Uniformity is key to achieve maximum output.
- For maximum uniformity during brooding, 1st 7-10 days have prime importance.
- Weight at day seven is a good indication in broiler but uniformity is more essential. In broilers, the weight at day 7 should be 4-5 times more than day old chick. Prevention of slower starter chicks is more important than weight at day 7.
- Uniformity should be maintained from day 1st.
- Crop-fill testing is an excellent indicator to maintain uniformity. Chicks should be crop filled. This also called chick-check evaluation.
o 80% chicks after 8 hours
o 95% after 24 hours
- • Start weighing and grading of layer and breeder chicks from 3rd week.
Mortality during Brooding
- Mortality should not be more than 1% during first week.
Diseases which affect at an early age
The important diseases that can affect at early age are:
- E.coli Infection.
- Newcastle Disease (ND).
- Avian Encephalomyelitis (AE).
- Infectious Bronchitis (IB).
- Infectious Bursal Disease (IBD).
- Chicken Infectious Anemia (CIA).
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