Proper Brooder Management

Proper Brooder Management is doing everything possible to promote a comfort zone in the broiler pen which will maximize feed and water intake during the first week of life. Low first week mortality is only possible if we start with quality chicks.

The manager must evaluate the environment by being present in the barn at least three to four times per day. I like to refer to it as working on your M.B.A.: Masters of Business Administration or Management by Being Around.

The formula for success is:

  • Clean Barn. The barn, including all walls, ceilings, equipment and floors are washed so that all dirt is gone and then the barn is disinfected. This procedure permits the birds to develop antibodies to vaccine which protects the bird for life. Insect and rodent control is an essential component of clean up.
  • Clean Water. This must be readily available at all times. This means proper height of nipple drinkers, proper pressure of cup drinkers and adequate levels and cleanliness of bell drinkers.
  • Temperature. Exhaust fans should operate right from day one, but only if there are no drafts at bird level. Ideal temperature at bird level is likely between 87 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Chick location dictates comfort and not the thermostat or the computer screen. Chicks are poikilothermic which means that their body temperature is dictated by the environmental temperature. Increasing the barn temperature speeds up growth rate and lowering the temperature slows growth rate. Remember that the relative change in body weight is over 250% within the first 7 days.
  • Feed. This must be accessible at all times via filled feed pans, paper below feeders, or supplementary feeder trays. Proper texture and quality is imperative. A young flock can have as much as 10 percent of body weight in the crop and gizzard as feed and water within hours of placement.
  • Light. Light intensity and duration can control weight gain. Metabolic diseases can be significantly reduced if a dramatic light restriction program is initiated within the first week of life.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 1 June 2000
Last Reviewed: 8 June 2010