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Brooding and Rearing

Isolation and Sanitation

Isolation and restricted access to the brood/ grow area are important to prevent and control poultry diseases. The “all-in all-out” brood/grow program provides excellent means for isolation and allows for effective cleanup in the event of a disease outbreak. It also permits uniform programs for light control and vaccination. Traffic between the brood/grow area and laying houses should be avoided. Brooder houses must be kept free of wild birds and rodents as they can be a major source of pathogens and parasites.

Humidity Maintenance

The relative humidity (determined with a wet bulb thermometer), should be maintained on an optimal level, i.e. between 60 and 70 %. Humidity is usually not a prob- lem after 6 weeks of age because it is easier to maintain a satisfactory moisture level at lower temperatures. Besides, the older, larger birds also exhale a considerable amount of moisture into the atmosphere.

Getting Chicks Off to a Good Start

Preparations before the chicks arrive:

  • Maintain the temperature at chick level at 35 – 36 °C over 2 days prior to arrival.
  • Offer water with added vitamins and electrolytes to Chicks that have been shipped long distance by air.
  • Check automatic feed and water systems for proper settings and uniform distribution of feed and water.
  • Check the settings of the time clocks and dimmers for the lights. Provide 24 hours of light during the first two days or run an intermittent lighting program.
  • Coordinate the arrival time of the chicks with the hatchery and confirm the number and condition of the chicks being delivered.
  • If a coccidiostat is to be used, be sure it is in the feed.
  • Raise males and females together from one day of age.
  • Get the chicks off to a good start by using good quality, clean litter.
  • Have the brooder house ready and start the heating system 24 hours before the chicks arrive.

Temperature Requirements

Intermittent Lighting Program in Rearing for Day Old Chicks

When the day old chicks arrive on the farm, they have been intensively handled in the hatchery and often had a long transport to their final destination. Give them 24 hours light in the first 2 or 3 days after arrival,to help them recover and provide enough time to eat and to drink. Sometimes after arrival and housing some chicks continue to sleep, others are already looking for feed and water.

The activity of the flock will always be irregular. Especially in this phase, poultry- men may have difficulties interpreting the chicks behavior and their condition. There is a practically proven procedure in splitting the day into phases of resting and activity using a special designed intermittent lighting program. The target of such a pro- gram is to synchronize the activity of chicks in order to make it easier for the staff to assess the condition of the flock more accurately and to stimulate feed and water intake through group behavior.

Therefore, H&N International advises to give chicks a brief period of rest after the arrival at the rearing farm and then start the intermittent lighting program of 4 hours light followed by two hours of darkness.

Lighting Program after Arrival

  • 4 hours light
  • 2 hours darkness
  • 4 hours light
  • 2 hours darkness
  • 4 hours light
  • 2 hours darkness
  • 4 hours light
  • 2 hours darkness

This program can be used for up to 7 or 10 days after arrival. Then switch to the regular step down lighting program. The benefits of using such a program are:

  • Chicks rest or sleep at the same Chicks’ behavior is synchronized.
  • Weaker chicks are stimulated by stronger ones to be active and to eat and
  • Flock behavior is more uniform, which makes the chick assessment

Mortality in the first week is reduced.  

Feed and Water

Provide edditional feed trays within the brooder ring until all chicks start eating from the regular feeding system. Automatic watering systems vary in their ability to provide adequate water for day old chicks. Supplement all systems with water jugs until the chicks are drinking from the regular water system. It is important that birds are grown on the same type water system as they will use in the laying house. This will help prevent dehydration at housing time.  

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