Saturday, May 25, 2024
Poultry

Brooding Methods in Raising Poultry Chickens for Optimum Performance

Brooding is the process of caring for young chicks from day-old to six weeks of age. It entails essentially, the provision of factors like heat, light, humidity, ventilation, feed, water, and disease control measures for the survival and rapid growth of chicks.

It is the efficient combination of these factors that determines the level of physical and physiological development and the mortality of the chicks. A brooder or a brooding unit is designed to house chicks from day old until they no longer need supplementary heat between 0-8 weeks.

Poultry keeping is an age-long tradition of farmers. Most farming families in rural areas and an average percentage of households in towns and cities across the country keep flocks of chickens, turkeys, guinea fowls, ducks, and a few other poultry species as a source of extra income, for meeting some social demands or as sacrificial animals.

However, in the past four decades, the poultry industry has witnessed a significant transformation from traditional poultry rearing, using local chickens to the application of modern production techniques on the exotic strains of chicken that are more productive.

This has resulted in the emergence of a number of commercial farms to make the poultry industry a significant contributor to the animal protein pool of the nation. Despite the remarkable growth of the poultry industry, the production efficiency on most farms is very low giving, cause for concern on how to make the industry operate optimally.

 Brooding and Brooding Methods in Raising Poultry Chickens for Optimum Performance
Chickens on traditional free range poultry farm

A critical factor identified for the dismal performance of the industry hammers on faulty production and management strategies. This unit, therefore, focuses on the vital information the poultry farmer needs to have at his fingertips to enable him to raise chicks successfully.

Chicken Brooding Methods

There are two general systems of brooding:

1. The Natural Method

This is the care of chicks by a mother hen. The local fowls are suitable for this method. Depending on her size, a hen can brood 12-20 chickens. This includes the chicks she hatches and the ones fostered on her when day-old chicks are placed with her.

However, before fostering, she should be examined for good health and mothering ability. This method is used where only a few chickens are raised each year and is not suitable for a commercial scale operation.

2. The Artificial Method

This involves the use of special appliances which provide conditions similar to those of the broody hen such as adequate warmth, protection from harsh external factors of weather (wind, rain, temperature,), and predators.

It also allows for a good feeding, watering, and disease control. Artificial brooding is the best method for the commercial producers. Artificial brooding has some advantages over the natural method namely:

  1. Chicks may be reared at any time of the year.
  1. Thousands of chicks may be brooded at once depending on the capacity of the farmer.
  2. Sanitary conditions may be controlled.
  3. The temperature may be regulated and
  4. Feeding may be controlled to meet the production objective.

The Brooder

A brooder consists of a source of heat and the area under the brooder where young chicks are raised. It is built and placed inside a chicken house and the area is enlarged till the chicks reach about 21 days when the brooder is dismantled.

For heating brooders, the use of coal, kerosene, gas, and electricity are employed depending on the availability of these materials and the capacity of the farmer.

Read More: Economic Implications of Diseases of Poultry Production

There are many types and sizes of brooder units in the market. The equipment is rated by the manufacturer according to the number of chicks that it can accommodate. The essentials of a good brooder are:

  1. A dependable mechanism for controlling temperature.
  2. A regular supply of fresh air, dryness
  3. Adequate light, and space.
  4. Easy disinfection.
  5. Protection against chick enemies, safety from fire and
  6. The economy in construction.

The most popular type of brooder is probably the floor brooder with the hover providing heat. This is characterized by a pyramidal or conical canopy of aluminum or galvanized iron mounted on metal legs.

 Brooding and Brooding Methods in Raising Poultry Chickens for Optimum Performance
Organic egg farm. Hen, chicken eggs and chickens eating food in farm.

The canopy reflects heat to the back of the chick and should be kept clean on the undersurface. All brooder boxes should be constructed with holes at the top (apex of the brooder) to provide

for the escape of fumes especially when kerosene lamps are used. Directly below the apex of the brooder or close to it is the heating element or the source of heat.

Read Also: Impact of Factory Farming to Modern Agriculture

The Surround or Guard Brooder

In floor-brooding, chicks should be restricted to within a short distance of the hover until they are fairly feathered and can locate the source of heat. They are restricted by a 40cm high surround, usually made of hardboard.

Any shape is suitable, provided it is free from corners in which chicks can huddle. This brooder is recommended especially for very large projects but can be adapted for a small number. The chicks will be managed in this enclosed area for 10-14 days and, as they grow older, the area can be extended to fill the entire chicken house.

Note that a brooding house should be able to conserve heat to keep the house warm. A brooding house should also be located not less than 45.5m away from other poultry houses in which older birds are stocked. This helps to curtail the risk of disease transference from old to young stock.

The Battery Brooder

This is in the form of a series of drawers (usually four) maintained at different temperatures. The brooder is heated by electricity or hot water and provides heat uniformly in each compartment.

The advantages of the battery brooder are:

  1. Its convenience
  2. Chicks are free from contact with litter
  3. Chicks can be closely observed Its disadvantages are:
  4. Chicks become overcrowded leading to cannibalism
  5. It is only suitable for started chicks.
  6. It does not provide access for chicks to cooler zones hence they become enervated and loosely feathered

The Tier Brooder

The problem of no access to cooler zones in the battery brooder is eliminated in the tier brooder as only a part of the brooder is heated. Like the battery brooder, it must be properly housed to allow adequate ventilation.

Read More: Types of Pig Feeds and When to Feed Each

Agric4Profits

Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. Agric4Profits.com - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. WealthinWastes.com - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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