Brooding – Pre-Placement Checklist

The key to successful broiler rearing starts with having a systematic and efficient management program in place. This program must start well before the chicks arrive on-site. Pre-placement house preparation as part of a management program provides a basis for an efficient and profitable flock of broilers.

The following checks need to be made:

1. Equipment Check

After confirming that the equipment capabilities meet the number of chicks to be placed, install the necessary brooding equipment and check that all equipment is functional. Ensure that all water, feed, heat and ventilation systems are properly adjusted.

2. Heater Checks

Verify that all heaters are installed at the recommended height and are operating at maximum output. Heaters should be checked and serviced an adequate time BEFORE pre-heating commences.

3. Thermostats or Probes Check:

  • Placed at bird height and in the center of the brooding area.
  • Minimum and maximum thermometers should be placed adjacent to thermostat.
  • Temperature ranges should be recorded daily and not deviate by more than 2 °C (4 °F) over a 24 hour period.
  • These should be calibrated at least annually or sooner if doubt exists about accuracy.

4. Floor temperature Check:

Houses should be preheated so that both the floor and ambient temperatures and humidity are stabilized 24 hours before placement.

To achieve the above targets, pre-heating needs to commence at least 48 hours before chick placement.

Pre-heating time is dependent on climate conditions, house insulation and heating capacity and will vary from farm to farm.

Chicks do not have the ability to regulate body temperature for the first 5 days and thermo regulation is not fully developed until 14 days of age. The chick is highly dependent upon the manager to provide the correct litter temperature. If the litter and air temperatures are too cold, internal body temperature will decrease, leading to increased huddling, reduced feed and water intake, stunted growth and susceptibility to disease.

At placement, floor temperatures should be at least 32 °C (90 °F) [30-50% RH] with forced air heating. If radiant heaters / brooder stoves are used, floor temperatures should be 40.5 °C (105 °F) under the heat source.

Litter temperature should be recorded before each placement. This will help to evaluate the effectiveness of pre-heating.

5. Minimum Ventilation Check:

  • Minimum ventilation should be activated as soon as the preheating begins to remove waste gasses and any excess moisture.
  • Seal air leaks to eliminate drafts on chicks.

6. Drinker Check:

14-16 drinkers/1,000 chicks (includes supplemental) should be provided within the brooding area of which 8-10 can be bell type drinkers. All drinkers should be flushed to remove any residual sanitizer. Adjust pressure to produce a droplet of water visible on each nipple without dripping. Check for water leaks and air locks. Ensure that nipple drinkers are at the chicks’ eye level. Water must be clean and fresh. Supplemental drinkers should be placed in such a way that the chicks will make the association between supplemental drinkers and the main system.

7. Feeder Check:

  • Remove all water remaining from clean-out prior to filling.
  • Supplemental feeders should be provided for the first 7-10 days in the form of paper, trays or lids. Trays should be provided at a rate of one per 50 chicks.
  • Supplemental feeders should be placed between the main feed and drinker lines and adjacent to the brooders. It is of utmost importance that the supplementary feeding system does not run empty as this will place great stress on the chick and reduce yolk sac absorption. The base of the supplementary feeders should never be exposed - keep full at all times!
  • Supplemental feeders should be refreshed three times daily until all the chicks are able to gain access to the main feeding system. This generally occurs at the end of the first week.
  • Feed should be provided as a good quality crumble. Do not place feed or water directly under the heat source as this may reduce feed and water intake.
  • The automatic system should be placed on the floor to make access easier for the chick. Where possible, flood automatic feeding systems with feed.
  • If using paper, the feed area should be a minimum of 50% of the brooding area. 50-65 grams of feed per chick on the paper is recommended. The paper should be placed near the automatic drinking system so the chick can have easy access to both feed and water.
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