Recommended Brooding Duration for Chicks with Temperature Requirement

Brooding is the art and science of rearing baby chicks. A newly hatched chick does not develop the thermoregulatory 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, if not properly taking care of.  Brooding can be classified into natural and artificial brooding.

Brooding is usually done between the first four (4) weeks of the chicks life. At the first week, you have to maintain them at a temperature of 32C-34C, 30C-32C at the 2nd week and 28C-30C at the 3rd week.

After four (4) weeks, their feathers are enough as a source of heat. Brooding them beyond 4weeks is undesirable and could be stressful for the birds.

Once the fertile egg is laid by the hen, the embryo can develop and hatch with no assistance from the hen.  The egg must be maintained at a controlled temperature and humidity for approximately 28 days.

Once the chicks are hatched, they must be maintained at higher than normal temperatures until they have developed sufficient size and feather coverage to acclimate to more normal animal housing temperatures.  The need to provide auxiliary heat for the animals is called brooding.

Quick Facts…

  • Proper brooding temperatures are necessary for chicks to be healthy and to rapidly feather. The brooder temperature will decrease with each week of age.
  • All poultry requires a minimum amount of square feet in coops, runs and cages that increases with age to maintain health and to prevent social problems. They also require a certain amount of space at feeders and waterers.

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.

Proper conditions are necessary for baby poultry changes during the first weeks of life. Ensure baby poultry are dry and bedding materials are not wet. Hypothermia due to wet conditions is one of the most common causes of baby poultry deaths in small farms.

Poultry flock owners should strive to follow the suggested temperatures in the chart below by regulating heat in the brooding unit. The temperatures should be measured at the outer edge of the hover (a canopy type brooding unit/lamp) 4 to 6 inches (10.2 to 15.2 centimeters) above the floor.

Room temperature should not be over 75°F (23.9°C) during the first few weeks. It is advisable to keep room temperature in the correct range to encourage rapid feathering of the chicks. If weather conditions change outside of the brooding unit, attend quickly to temperatures to see if adjustments need to be made.

Age Brooding Temperature
0 to 1 week 93° to 95°F (33.9° to 35°C)
1 to 2 weeks 88° to 90°F (31.1° to 32.2°C)
2 to 3 weeks 83° to 85°F (28.3° to 29.4°C)
3 to 4 weeks 78° to 80°F (25.6° to 26.7°C)
4 to 5 weeks 75°F (23.9°C)
5 to 6 weeks 70°F (21.1°C)
6 weeks and over Comfort Zone 50° to 70°F (10° to 21.1°C)

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.

In artificial brooding large number of baby chicks are reared in the absence of broody hen.  Equipments used for brooding are called brooders.

Brooder comprises of three elements:

    1. Heating source
    2. Reflectors
    3. 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.

Read Also: Difference between Day Old Chicks and Point of Lay birds and when best to buy them

1) Charcoal stove / kerosene stove:

Charcoal stove
Charcoal stove

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
Gas brooder

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
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:

Infra-red 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 reflector

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
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.

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.

Read Also: Guidelines for The First 7 Days of Brooding Day-Old Chicks

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.

Poultry Chicks Brooding Temperature Chart

Space Requirements for Poultry

Chickens
Per Bird

Square feet* of space Linear inches* of trough/100 birds
Weeks of Age Floor Cage Feeder Waterer
Brooding 0-4 1/2 1/2 1 1/2 24
Growing 4-12 1 3/4 2 1/2 48
     Roasters 8-12 2 1 2 1/2 48
12-16 2 1 3 48
Replacements 8-12 2 1 3 48
12-21 2 1/2 – 3 1 4 60
Layers
     Leghorn type 21+ 2 1/2 – 3 1 4 60
     Dual-purpose 21+ 3 – 3 1/2 1 4 60
Size of cage
(inches)*
W X D X H
Birds per cage
(Number)
Typical laying cages
(dependent on breed)
21+
9 X 14 X 18
18 X 14 X 18
32 X 30 X 18
1
2
3 – 5

Turkeys
Per Bird

Square feet* of space Linear inches* of trough/100 birds
Weeks of Age Floor Cage Feeder Waterer
Brooding
     Small type 0-8 1 1 1/2 30
     Grow-out 8-18 2 1/2 3 60
Brooding
     Large type 0-8 1 2 30
     Grow-out 8-18 2 1/2 3 60
Finishing
     Hens 16-20 3 4 80
     Toms 16-24 5 4 80
Exterior Yards/Runs
                                                                                                                  Sq. Ft.
Chickens Mature 10
Turkeys Mature 20

*To convert to metrics, use these equivalents – 1 square foot = .083 square meter; 1 inch = 2.54 centimeters.

Note: This information is general information for leghorn chicks.  It is recommended that you contact the breeder of the chicks being housed to determine the recommended requirements for the breed you will be using.

Receiving of chicks

  • After culling the previous adult birds, clean and disinfect the poultry house.
  • 3 to 4 weeks interval may be provided between 2 batches as down tome.
  • 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 centre 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 rava 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 950F for the first week and then reduce 50F every week until it reaches the room temperature.
  • Watch the behaviour 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 waterers according to age and requirement.
  • 24 hours lighting programme 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 programme: First and Second day – Electrolytes and vitamins.  3rd to 7th day – Antibiotics.  (Other medications as and when required).

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