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Description                    Poultry layer management-Brooding

Brooding of chicks is the most critical area. A well started chick is half grown. The main goals in brooding are

1. To have Maximum livability 98 to 99%.
2. To achieve standard and uniform weights at 5 weeks. 300 gms .
3. To create excellent and uniform immunity status for the future.

Quality chicks

The livability during this period depends a lot on the quality and the health status of the chicks received. The chicks

should be purchased from an established hatchery. Order for chicks in one or two hatches with not more than a week gap.

  The chicks should have good initial body weight(30 to 36gms). No vertically transmitted disease like salmanella. Reo,

Avian encephalomyelitis etc. Clean hatchey with no bacterial contamination. Bacterial infections show up in the form of

omphalitis and yolk infections etc.

  There should be minimum stress between hatching and placement under the brooders.

   Large flocks take lot of time for vent sexing. In correct timings of chick delivery results from early hatches or late

dispatches. Better to receive the chicks during the morning hours so that the chicks can be settled during the day time.

   Vwry hot or very cold temparatures during the transit and in the brooder house. Uncom-fortable vehicles and over

loading of chicks. Transit breakdowns and delayed supplies.


   The brooder house should be located at an isolated place away from adult birds. It is better, the brooderand grower

houses are built on a separats premises at least 1 km. away from the layer farm. we should be in a position  to use this

premises on "all in all out" basis. The brooding  can be done either on deep litter for the first 3 weeks before shifting

to cages. The chicks can be brooded in specially designed brooder cages from the first day.

  Have separate man power set up for this unit. No personnel visiting  adult birds to take care of chicks on a routine

basis. People framed in vaccination and debeaking should be employed.

  Have enough place for the number of chicks ordered. 0.5 sft on deep litter per chick if we are planning to shift them

to cages with in 5 weeks sft, if we are planning to shift later directly to layer cages. When brooded in cages plan not

less than 7.5 sq.in per chick to start with 25 sq in. by 3rd  week and 45 sq.in by 5th week. Have enough feeders. The

chicks can be started off on papers spread on the litter followed by chick boxes or plastic trays as feedets. Then the

round or linear feeders are introduced. One round feeder for 100 chicks and 3in linear space when long feeders are


  The chick waterers of 1.5 litre capacity with height adjustable stands are provided for the chicks at one for 100

chicks.  The water should be given even before the feed. Nipple drinking system is getting more popular because of it's
many advantages. There is no dust contamination. No cleaning and no wastage. If the heights are correctly adjusted, the

nipples are being used on deep litter also. The water flow should be enough to provide water without being wasted. The

nipple line height should be adjustable. One nipple for 18 chicks is recommended in deep litter and one for 10 chicks in


Maintainance of temparature in the chick house at 95 F is important in the first week. This can be reduced by 5o F wvery

week till we reach 80 F .Make enough arrangements to warm up the house. This can be done by electric bulb brooding. Hover

with 4 bulbs is enough for 300 chicks on deep litter. Many single bulbs directly above the cages suit the cage brooding.

Gas brooders are good for deep litter. If hung at a height the chicks adjust themselves around the brooder. One gas

brooder hung at 3 sft above the ground is sufficient for 2500 to 3000 chicks. Gas heaters with a fan to move the hot air

can be installed at a height above the cages for uniform heat distribution.


    The growth of the chicks depend on the nutrient levels in the feed and how comfortably the chicks are eating the

feed. The chick feed should have atleast 20 % protein, fortified with all vitamins and minerals. The chick should start

eating the feed as early as possible. The chick starts picking up the feed right from the time it is left in the house.

It is better to spread some feed on the paper covering the litter. Better , we feed ground grains, which can be picked up

by the chick. Whole feed made in to crumbles is the best way to feed the chicks. The chick gets all the nutrients right

from the first day.
    The chick feed should be fresh and free from toxins. Any toxins in the feed depress the growth. The chicks with poor

growth compete with their normal counterparts and gets trampled. The immune stystem does not develop to optimum size.

These chicks are vulnerable to stress and succumb to minor infections like E.Coli and variation in size is the natural


Thw chicks should be basically free from infections when they arrive. The indicator of health is the mortality in the

first week. The first week mortality should not exceed 1% there should be no loose droppings and the paper of bedding

material should be dry. There should be no vent pasting. There should be no discharges in the eye or nostrils. The chicks

should not hubble under normal circumstances and should be active and agile.


   The chick should be protected at early age against the diseases it is likely to face later. The need for a particular

vaccine depends on thise prevalence of the disease in that particular area. The viral diseases spread with wind and myst

be protected against. The bacterial diseases should be vaccinated against when prevalent in the area.

  There are live and killed vaccines available for most of the diseases The live vaccines spread fast and initiate a

quick reaction. The killed vaccines in emulsified form remain at the site for a long time and protect the bird for a long

time. The response for live vaccine can be expected in one week time where as the response against killed vaccine can be

expected after three weeks. The live vaccines are given early in life i.e. during the brooding stage. Some killed

vaccines are also given early  so that, they start protecting the birds by 4th week.

The important live vaccines given are  

1. Marek's Disease. This vaccine is given in the hatchery itself.Bivalent vaccines incorporating mild chicken type like

SB1 along with H.V.T is more popular. Marek,s virus, if present in the brooder house can reach the body faster and

establish itself. The disease is expressed after 16 weeks. The Marek's disease incidence is increasing and with large

batch sizes, a repition of vaccine at an early age is giving better protection. The repeat dose is given on the 3rd day

vaccination is better than later vaccination in life.

2. Ranikhet Disease. Popularly calles RD is protected by a drop of Lasota vaccine in the eye on 5th or 6th day.This

vaccine is repeated is repeated after 20 days. A killed vaccine is being given in the neck by injection simultaneously

along with lasota, to give adequate protection after 3 weeks.

3.Infectious Bronchitis. This virus disease can be prevented by early vaccination. The chicks are usually vaccinated by

beak dipping in vaccine on the first day while releasing the chicks in to the brooders. The vaccination is repeated after

18 days. A combined vaccine with RD(lasota) also available.

4.Gumboro disease: The infectious bursal diseases can strike the flock as early as 21 days. This kills the chicks and

also damaged bursa cannot develop immunity against aby disease. maternal antibodies are low a mild vaccine is recommended

before 3 days . Now a days,most of the breeder flocks are well vaccinated with killed vaccines and the chicks get high

maternal antibodies hence the 3rd day vaccine not recommended.

5. VVND is another addition to the many viral vaccines.This vaccine available only in killed form and is recommended on

8th day by injection.
  The important points to be remembered are 1. Vaccine only healthy flocks. 2. Give at least 2 days gap between

vaccinations. Plan and execute the programme quickly to reduce stress to the chicks. Akk reconstitutes live vaccines

should be finished in 30 minutes. Give immunity boosters and vitamins a day in advance and a day after vaccination.

6. DEBEAKING:- The chicks are debeaked before 3rd week to prevent pecking and feed watage. It is better to debeak the

chicks at an early age between 7th and 21 st day. While it is important to properly debeak the chicks, the job should not

be over done. The upper beak should be cut to half and the lower beak to one third. If properly debeaked at 7 day there

is no need for the second debeaking. Yet it is better to check up the whole flock at 11th week and rectify improper

debeaking if there is any. Debeak during moderate weather. Avoid handling the birds during the hot part. Have good

debeaking machines with sharp edges and blades properly heated. Some times the chicks blead excessively. Give more

vitamin K along with other vitamins.
      The important pointers of good brooding are mortality percentage and the average body weights. It is a good

practice to weigh a sample of birds at the end of each week and compare them with the standards provided by the chick

supplier. The chicks should reach a weight of 300 gms by the end of 5th week. Uniformly of size of the chicks is another

indication of successful brooding.

MEDICATION:- Most of the vitamins, trace minerals,growth promoters, coccidiostats and liver tonics are added in feed.

Generally no extra medicines are required. But in view of the stress involved, additional vitamins are recommended for

the first 5 days of brooding. The antibiotics are also given for the first 5 days in water. If there are some health

problems specific medication is given as per the advise of the veterinarian. Immunity booters like Levimsol and

antibiotics one day before and one day after vaccination is also being recommended considering the busy vaccination


1. Mortality during the first 3 days is attributed to inferior chick quality and insufficient brooding temperatures.

Less number of brooders, over crowding, predators accidents. Mortality after 5th day could be due to bacterial

infections. These infections can be water born. Check water contamination levels at bore well, over head tank poultry

house level. The water can be decontaminated on a regular basis with acetic acid, chlorine hyderogen peroxide, chlorine

dioxide etc.Mortality after 4 th week in deep litter can be because of Coccidiosis. Give coccidiostats in feed and

consuct post mortem on dead birds besides watching the litter. Start water medication immediately.

  Not Uniform flock

The flock will have different size chicks, insuffcient feeder space insufficient feed quantities can cause this problem.

Infections like Reo virus can cause this problem.

        Toxins in feed can cause the variation in growth. Segregate the small birds when found and take special care of

the smalll chicks. Test and remove the causes like toxicity in feed. Low body weights at the end of Brooding Low protein

and toxins in feed are the most common reasons. Improper grinding and poor feeding equipment can result in this problem.

Keep the record of feed. Many a times the birds did not eat the required quantity of feed. Correct the mistake quickly.
   Low body weights can result due to poor quality of feed mostly low protein, low Lysine and Methionine. Correct



If some chicks are limping, find out the reason.Could be due to insufficient vitamin levels of insufficient trace

minerals in feed. Suppliment through water immediately and correct the levels in feed. Check for faulty equpment.

   Low mortality with out specific reason can be due to over crowding accidents, immunno suppression when the growth is

improper. Correct the problems.


                                           EMAIL: [email protected]
Any decesion taken for treatment, prevention or any other activity should be consulted with Veterinarian. We are not

responsible for any treatment failure or side effects.  


Last Updated: 2013-12-21 04:52:29  
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