5 ways to do best Brooding in Poultry

Best Methods of Brooding management in Poultry

Brooding in poultry has different methods. We are going to discuss them one by one. First we quickly go through brooding and brooder.Brooding is the management of day old chick up to two weeks with assisted care. A brooder is simply a place where very young chickens can be properly cared for.

Brooding in day old chick is very important for its survival.

 Table of Contents:

What is Brooding in Poultry?

Brooding is the management of day old chick to the age when they no longer need assisted heat/extra care. Day old chicks can't maintain body temperature properly for the first few weeks of life; and may be subjected to chilling, if not properly taken care of.

Brooding period is about up to 2 weeks, and it involves providing heat and other necessary care during chicks' early growing period. Brooders are designed to house day old chicks until they no longer need supplementary heat.

Why Brooding is Important in poultry? 

Brooding is very important for chicks survival. Day old chick does not develop the thermo-regulatory mechanism fully and takes about two weeks to develop this mechanism and homeostasis.  Therefore, they cannot maintain the body temperature properly for the first few weeks of life; and may be subjected to chilling and can die.

Types of Brooding in poultry

Brooding is categorized into two main types:

1. Natural Brooding

It is done with the help of broody hens after hatching, up to 3 to 4 weeks of age.

2. Artificial brooding

In artificial brooding large number of baby chicks are reared in the absence of broody hen.  Equipment used for brooding are called brooders. Brooder comprises of three elements:

  • Heating source
  • Reflectors
  • Brooder guard

Heating source may be electrical,  gases like natural gas, LPG and methane, liquid fuel like kerosene, solid fuel like coal, wood can be used as a heating material.

How to do brooding in day old chicks?

  • After culling/selling out previous birds' flock, clean and disinfect the poultry farm.
  • 3 to 4 weeks interval may be provided between 2 flocks.
  • Form a circle of about 5 feet diameter with brooder guard. The 5 feet diameter brooder can hold about 200 to 250 chicks.
  • At the center of brooder guard, provide any one of heat source like IR bulb, ordinary incandescent bulb or gas brooders.
  • Spread litter material about 2” height in a circle and then spread old newspaper over the litter material.
  • Arrange feeders and waterers alternatively like cart-wheel fashion.
  • Check the brooder for proper temperature 24 hours prior to arrival of chicks.
  • Switch on the brooder heating source several hours before the arrival of the chicks in order to maintain required brooding temperature.
  • Spread ground maize or fine mash / crumble feed on the old newspaper for 1 or 2 days.  Afterwards, they will learn to consume feed from the feeder.
  • Provide electrolyte, glucose and vitamins in the drinking water for first 2 to 3 days to overcome stress.  After arrival of chicks, moist the beak and leave the chicks under heating source.
  • Maintain a brooder temperature of 90 to 95 F for the first week and then reduce 50F every week until it reaches the room temperature.
  • Observe the behavior of chicks in order to find out whether temperature provided is correct or less or more.  In case of too much temperature, we can reduce the heat by reducing the power of the bulb or we can raise the heating element.  In case of too low temperature, we have to supplement more heating source or we can further down the heating element.  In case of chill weather or chill breeze, we can provide curtains towards the wind direction.
  • Remove the old newspaper after 3 days and destroy it by burning.  If necessary, spread another set of newspaper.
  • Remove brooder guard after 7 to 10 days depending upon the season.  While removing the brooder guard, see that the corners of the sheds are rounded in order to avoid mortality due to huddling.
  • Change the feeders and waterer according to age and requirement.
  • 24 hours lighting program may be adopted during 0-8 weeks of age.  One hour darkness may be provided to train the chicks in case of any power failure.
  • Medication program: First and Second day – Electrolytes and vitamins.  3rd to 7th day – Feed grade anti-biotcs and vaccinations get started as per protocols.  (Other medications as and when required).

 Necessary steps for Brooding in poultry

 1. keep floor Temperature 35c° before getting day old chicks out of box. Brooder should be turned on, 12 hours before chicks arrival on shed. Remember that Manual Thermometer is to be placed place 1-2 feet above floor , you need to maintain 35c° for first week.

2. Water lines should be balanced from corners and in proper access of chicks.

3. Water should not be cold minimum temperature should be 30c° to avoid shivering and Fever that leads to respiratory distress.

4. Humidity for first two weeks should be 70-80%.

5. Minimum Ventilation per Bird is 0.2 on fist day, so if a flock is of 30000 Birds required cfm will be 0.2×30000=6000 cfm, for that you need not open vent. Air coming from brooder will be enough.

6. For Air Exhaust:  Use Formula of Fan Time

Fan time= total numer of Birds × Avg wt (Kg) × Cfm value of one Bird
÷ cfm of front or side fan
Answer will be 'On' time of fan, put it in 5 minute circle of fan e.g On time 25 seconds then off time will be 475 seconds in 5 minutes circle of fan.

7. Do not make the chicks run to keep them active, it is a malpractice which many new comers do, remember if you maintain Temperature, Humidity and Ventilation chick will be fine and 'll himself move for feed and water.

8. Keep lights On and keep it maximum for first two weeks. 

Types of Brooders used in Poultry

A brooder is a place of safety where baby chicks are kept warm, fed, watered and cared for until they are able to care for themselves. Following types of brooders are being used in poultry farms.
1) Charcoal stove / kerosene stove:
Charcoal stove (coal is used as fuel)


Where electricity is not available, ordinary charcoal / kerosene stoves are used to provide supplementary heat to chicks.  These stoves are covered with plate / pans to dissipate the heat.

2) Gas brooder:
Gas brooder (methane gas is used as fuel)

Natural gas, LPG or methane is connected to heating element which is hanged 3 to 5 feet above the chick to provide heat.

3) Electrical brooder:
Electrical brooder

It is also thermostatically controlled heating system that spread required amount of heat uniformly above large area, this avoid crowding of chicks under brooder directly.  One electrical brooder can be used for 300 to 400 chicks.

4) Infra-red bulbs:
Infrared Bulbs


It is a self reflecting bulb.  One 250 watts IR bulb can provide brooding for about 150 to 250 chicks.

5) Reflectors: (Light reflector)
Light reflectors

These reflectors are called Hovers.  Flat type hover – These hovers are provided with heating element, heating mechanism and pilot lamp and in some cases thermometer is also there in order to record the temperature. Canopy type hover – These reflectors are in concave shape consisting of ordinary electrical bulb, thermostat mechanism and in some cases thermometer.

6) Brooder guard / chick guard
Brooder Guard

They are used to prevent chicks from straying too far away from heat supply until they learn the source of heat.  We have to provide brooder guard with a diameter of 5 feet, height of the brooder should not exceed 1.5 feet.  For this purpose, we can use materials like cardboard sheet, GI sheet, wire mesh, and mat etc. depending upon the season of brooding.  During winter season, brooding is done for 5-6 days.  In summer season it is 2-3 weeks.

5 Tips of Good Brooding Management in poultry

1. Good Litter Management: 

 For best performance, chicks must be placed on a consistent minimum of four inches of dry bedding at or around 88-92°F. Anything less will cause losses in performance. If chicks are not started on fresh litter, steps must be taken to reduce litter moisture and properly condition the litter to release as much ammonia as possible before flock placement. 

What to do: Remove caked litter as soon as possible after the birds leave. After this, windrowing, using litter conditioning equipment, heating the litter with attic inlets and ventilating between flocks can all help achieve the goal of dry litter with reduced ammonia at day one. Top-dressing the brooding chamber and applying a company approved, ammonia-controlling litter amendment at the manufacturer's suggested rate and method is also highly recommended.

The goals of litter management are first of all to provide comfortable bedding conditions for the chicks but also to reduce the effect that litter moisture and ammonia have on the environmental control systems. If we have to manage heating and ventilation to compensate for poor litter conditions, it will be much more difficult – and costly – to provide the optimum growing environment chicks need.

2. Air Quality inside poultry shed
Excess ammonia or carbon dioxide, along with too high or too low relative humidity, can become serious problems, especially during winter flocks. The only way to solve or reduce air quality problems once they have occurred is to increase the ventilation rate. But ventilation decisions should be based on accurate assessment of conditions, and neither controller systems nor growers are equipped to monitor air quality factors accurately.

For relative humidity monitoring, inexpensive sensors can be purchased from local hardware stores and placed near mid-house away from heaters and air inlets. Often controllers can be fit with humidity sensors as well. Either way, the goal is to maintain in-house relative humidity at 50 to 65 per cent during brooding as long as possible. If relative humidity is below 50 per cent, deduct 15 seconds from minimum ventilation run-time. If it is above 65 per cent, add 15 seconds of run-time.

Early morning is an excellent time to judge air quality conditions and make ventilation adjustments, if needed. If unsure, adjust one house and compare the next day.

Too-high ammonia (NH3) or carbon dioxide (CO2) levels can impact bird health and growth and can be challenging to control in winter but are more difficult for a grower to measure accurately. Because growers become accustomed to smelling ammonia, the 'nose test' cannot be relied on. Birds can suffer and even be blinded before the grower becomes aware of a serious problem.

Carbon dioxide is odourless, and it takes a while for humans to experience symptoms – headaches, nausea and sleepiness – of excess carbon dioxide levels. Therefore, growers typically must make judgments about these factors based on observation of birds and bird behaviour.

If accurate monitoring equipment is available, ammonia levels should be kept below 25ppm. A minimum of 15 seconds of additional minimum ventilation run-time should be added to houses testing above 25ppm and an additional 30 seconds for over 100ppm.

Carbon dioxide levels should be kept below 3,000ppm. Too-high carbon dioxide levels are usually highest when pre-heating and brooding chicks in tight houses during cold weather when heating systems are running constantly and ventilation run time is lowest.

Fortunately, most ammonia and carbon dioxide problems can be minimized by proper litter management (including use of ammonia-suppressing amendments) and adequate minimum ventilation (including control of relative humidity).

3. Proper ventilation

Good environmental control during brooding requires properly executing the minimum ventilation basics:

1. Pressure. A good rule of thumb for pressure is for every 0.01 inches of static pressure measured in water column, air travels about two feet. To get the air to the middle of the house near the ceiling requires about 0.10 inches of pressure in a 40-foot wide house. This means we have to have a house that can pull 0.15 inches or more during a house tightness test with fan power of 1cfm per square foot of floor space.

2. Inlet Door Opening. The required air pressure capability must be combined with the proper perimeter inlet door opening to throw the air to the centre of the house. Too little or too wide of an opening will result in outside air blowing directly onto the feed and water lines and, more importantly, onto the chicks.

Step one of vent management should be to latch-close manually all or most of the vents not located in the brood area of the house, after which additional vents inside the brood area may need to be latched closed to achieve the proper air flow with the desired fan power (typically 1.0 to 1.5cfm per square foot).

Bottom line is you have to get the correct inlet door opening and static pressure to achieve the desired air throw and mixing. Latching doors or opening doors can be used as a method of fine tuning your perimeter inlet set up.

A smoke emitter of some type will show exactly where the air is going. Do whatever it takes to get the air to the peak of the ceiling to promote good mixing.

The importance of adjusting vent door openings properly to achieve good moisture removal cannot be over-emphasized.

3. Fan Run Time. Finally, it is essential to calculate the correct amount of minimum ventilation fan run time.

4. Ensure Water Quality and Water Availability

Having high-quality water freely available can make a huge difference in getting chicks off to a good start. One of the first things a grower should do in case of inconsistent performance is to have a water sample analysis conducted. Contact your company or local County Extension Office for help with water sampling and analysis. If substantial water quality problems are found, a consultation with a respected water quality expert is in order.

Water quantity problems can be difficult to diagnose but a common-sense approach to making sure chicks have plenty of water available is to do a good job of routine drinker system maintenance. The importance of getting water into the chick as soon as possible cannot be over-stated. This means that cleaning water systems and activating nipple drinkers before every flock arrives is extremely important.

Also pay close attention to initial drinker height and make adjustments that reflect bird growth on a routine basis. Chicks will consume a lot less water than older birds so flushing drinker lines often in the beginning will keep the water fresh and promote greater consumption. Water filters, regulators and any possible water restriction points must be monitored before and during each flock.

Do not assume water quality and availability are adequate, calculate them.

5. Feed Availability 
Feed availability runs hand in hand with water availability and is of equal importance.

The quicker chicks have access to and consume quality feed, the better start they will have. The actual amount an individual chick consumes in the first seven days is very small, so the tonnage of feed in the house on day one is not nearly as important as providing access for every chick to easily get to feed.

Another way to say this is that feeding space/opportunity is most important. Chicks having sufficient access to feed is more than just feeder pan, chick tray and supplemental feed lid management.

Environmental factors also play a huge role in feed availability because if a chick is uncomfortable (too hot, cold or in a draught) near the feed trays or lines, it will not eat or drink sufficiently. This can be a severe problem that must be corrected.

Many companies look for about 95 per cent of the chicks with feed and water in their crops after 24 hours. Remember, if a chick is given the choice between comfort and feed or water, it will choose comfort. Make sure every chick gets feed and water quickly and easily.

Frequently Asked Questions Related to Brooding

What are the recommended brooding practices in poultry?

Brooding Temperatures Beginning at one day of age, the chick should be housed at a temperature between 87 – 92° F (30 – 33° C), at a relative humidity between 40 – 60%. Care should be taken to prevent the chicks from being exposed to drafts which could result in wind chill. When the chick is one week of age the temperature can be reduced by 4° F (2° C). Continue reducing the temperature until housing temperature of 70° F (21° C) is reached. Observation of the birds during the brooding period can assist you in providing the most desirable temperatures. Birds that are cold will huddle together in a very tight group. Should this condition exist the temperature needs to be increased. Chicks that are too hot will pant and appear drowsy. Chicks that are comfortable will be evenly dispersed within the cage and be active except during periods of rest. Brood Lighting Lighting for 1 day old birds should begin at 20 – 22 hours per day for the first two days at 10 lux (1ftc) intensity. Reduce day length weekly to reach approximately 12 hours of light at 8 weeks of age. Water Fresh water should be present when chicks are placed in the cage. Lixits or cups of water should be manipulated to stimulate drinking. Water consumption will increase from .01 liters/chick/day at one week of age to .03 liters/chick/day at 4 weeks of age. Feed Feed for one day old birds should be withheld for the first two hours to allow chicks to find the water prior to consumption of dry feeds. After the first two hours of housing, feed can be made freely available. The feed should be a high protein starter ration with at least 20% protein. Consumption will increase from approximately 13 grams of feed/chick/day at one week of age to approximately 29 grams/chick/day at four weeks of age

How long is brooding period in poultry?

Brooding period of day old chick ranges from day 1 up to 2 weeks of age.

What are the factors for successful brooding?

Temperature, air quality, humidity and light are critical factors to consider. Failure to provide the adequate environment during the brooding period will reduce profitability, resulting in reduced growth and development, poorer feed conversion, and increased disease, condemnation and mortality.

How do you control the temperature on a brooder?

The heat may be adjusted in two ways: by increasing the bulb's wattage. Start with 100- or 60-watt bulbs, depending on the size of the chick brooder and the number of chicks. One 250-watt infrared heat lamp provides sufficient heat for 25 to 100 chicks.

Do baby chickens need light at night?

A Night Light is Vital for Baby Chickens It is important to keep a source of light for your baby chickens, especially if you are brooding them indoors without a mother to take care of them. Baby chicks in this situation need all the warmth and comfort they can get.

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