Brooding- A good beginning is job half done!!!

Pashu Sandesh, 17th January 2018

From the Editor’s Desk

In 21st century’s poultry farming the concept of brooding is not limited merely to the practice of providing heat, feed and water to the chicks. To fully exploit the genetic potential of today’s very fast growing chicks, a perfect brooding program which supports all the physiological needs of the chick is mandatory. That’s why today’s  brooding program comprises of a more holistic approach where every need of the day old chick is given due attention. Apart from temperature- feed access, water quality, proper ventilation, light intensity and air quality should be given equal weight age in the brooding program. For a successful brooding program all these factors must be addressed in a holistic manner.

The brooding period is the most sensitive period of chick’s life, because many physiological developmental processes occur during this period which directly effects the future development of the chick. A day old chick when reaches the farm looks anatomically complete, but at this stage its thermoregulatory system, immune system and digestive system needs further development and maturation.

 Five essentials of holistic brooding program are

  1. Temperature management- Due to poorly developed thermo regulatory system chick is unable to regulate its body temperature. Further the ratio of body surface to body mass is large in the day-old chick and it decreases with age, so the young chicks lose heat faster than adult birds. Therefore chick needs external heat source to maintain constant body temperature. Ideal temperature of brooding house during first week should be 33ºC and during second week it should be 30ºC. With time feathers start growing which helps to conserve and maintain body temperature.
  2. Feed access- chicks should be given immediate access to clean balanced starter feed. They should never be starved. Further feed intake is important to intestinal and immunological development.
  3. Clean water- ad-lib clean and pure water should be provided to the chicks. As raw water is a source of many pathogens, it should be sanitized with a good quality water sanitizer like Ef-chlor before offering to chicks. Further water intake is directly related to feed intake which is related to weight gain.
  4. Clean air- Modern day fast weight gaining chicks requires high levels of oxygen. So proper ventilation must be assured in brooding house. Further there should be proper arrangement of removal of accumulating fowl gases.
  5. Light intensity- evenly distributed light of at least 20 lux across the brooding area ensures good chick activity. Good chick activity translates into good feed intake, which is essential for fast weight gain.