In view of increasing farmer request for Day Old Chicks during this period and the brooding process that follows which must be properly done to get a quality output, we will be reviewing the brooding process:

Getting Off to a Good Start – Best Brooding Practice


The term brooding refers to the period immediately after hatch when special care and attention must be given to chicks to ensure their health and survival. More than 50% is decided in this period as to the performance of the flock for the rest of its life. Mistakes made during this period cannot be corrected later.

Floor Brooding

The ideal temperature should be at the chicks’ level i.e. almost at floor level. If the temperature at that height is too high, the chicks will be dehydrated; if the temperature is too low the chicks will pileup together (as demonstrated below); will not eat or drink sufficiently resulting in high mortality.   

Diagram from Ross Broiler Management Manual (

The temperature under the brooders should be 350c especially in the first 3-4 days, after which the temperature may be slowly decreased by 20c per week. At least one drinker per 60 birds should be used in the first few weeks. It is important that the chicks start drinking immediately while the feed can be provided 1-2 hours later. Use broken maize for the first 24 hours.

Cage Brooding

Start the heating system 24hours before the chicks’ arrival. Relative humidity must be 65 to 75% otherwise chicks can dehydrate making them more susceptible to infections and reducing feed and water consumption resulting in higher chick mortality.

Location of the Brooder House

Chicks should not be located close to other poultry to avert disease transmission. There should be at least 1Km distance between brooder and the layer house.

Preparation of House before Every Batch

One Week before Arrival of Chicks

One Day before Arrival of Chicks  

When the Chicks Arrive

Bedding Material

Monitoring and Assessing the Conditions


Relative Humidity (RH)

This is also an important factor in brooding. Low RH can cause dehydration and dusty litter leading to respiratory problems and poor feather growth; high RH causes chilling and wet litter. In hatchers the RH is about 80% and if the chick is placed at a lower RH, it will feel a great shock. To prevent the chick from this shock; the RH level in the brooder house must be between 70% – 75% for the first 3 days. As the chicks grows, the requirement for RH decreases. When chicks are 18 days old, the RH should be between 55 – 60%. This facilitates the desired growth of feathers.


The digestive system of the young chicks is still undergoing physiological and anatomical changes; feed given during this period should be palatable, easily digestible, balanced, and free of pathogens and toxins. Do not use ingredients that have high levels of “Non Starch Polysaccharides (NSP)” e.g. Wheat Offal. The NSP causes viscosity in intestine and are responsible for poor digestion and wet litter. Do not use fat sources such tallow and lard.


Water is essential to the chicks. Generally, a chick consumes water twice as much as the feed. It helps in transporting nutrients within the body of the chicken. If water is contaminated, it equally will carry infection through the body of the chicken.


The objectives of ventilation are:


This is also important during the brooding period. Debeaking also called beak trimming is the partial removal of the beak of poultry especially egg laying strains of chicken. Beak trimming ensures low mortality, less feather pulling and better feed conversion. It is advisable to debeak the chicks at the age of 5 – 10days of age. 

Points To Observe In Debeaking

Advantages of Debeaking

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