A chicken brooder house can simply be referred to as an enclosure mainly used for providing shelter for young chicks (chickens) or other poultry birds.
It can also be defined as a heated enclosure for housing chicks (baby chicks).
The brooding of baby chicks can be classified into two (2) major types namely: natural brooding and artificial brooding.
Natural brooding: This is done with the help of broody hens after hatching, up to 3 to 4 weeks of age.
Artificial brooding: In artificial brooding large number of baby chicks are reared in the absence of broody hen.
The different pieces of equipment used for brooding are called brooders.
For this article, we will be discussing the artificial method of brooding.
As mentioned above the brooder house is simply a house or an enclosure for young chicks or other poultry birds, which is being heated (i.e at a minimal temperature just to keep the chicks warm and comfortable).
You should take note that the brooder house is only meant for housing young chicks or other poultry birds between the ages of 24hrs (Day Old or Day 1) to 35 – 75 days (6 – 10 weeks).
The brooder chambers in the brooder house are usually spaced to about 20-40 feet apart, inside the brooder house.
Each chamber has feed and water installed, to enable the young chickens to feed and also to ensure that the poultry is well arranged and organized.
One of the major drawbacks when it comes to brooder house management is the aspect of cleaning because it is quite stressful to clean.
So far we have been discussing the chicken brooder house, you should note that the chicks are not immediately stationed in the chicken brooder house after being hatched, instead, they are kept in an incubator for a couple of hours/days before they are being transferred to a brooder house where they are being taken care of, that is to say, they are being fed, and treated with care at this stage in the brooder house.
You should also be aware that when venturing into something like this, talking about the brooder house, either for business purposes or another reason, other than the one mentioned above, you should take into consideration that customers like durable, good, and healthy chickens and this comes with a great price.
As an owner of a chicken brooder, you should ensure that from the startup, your chickens are well fed and taken care of, for the chickens to attract buyers and customers when they get to the stage of being sold out.
Chicken Brooder Box
This is a smaller enclosure (a chicken brooding box) made for the same brooding of young chickens.
The chicken brooder box (chick brooder box) is often used by those who don’t have enough capital to start up with a larger brooder or simply for those people who might even have the resources and capital to start big but intend to start a poultry business from a little start for test running it, using a brooder box.
The chick brooder box is great when the young chicks are not much (when they are only a few in numbers).
Note: The main reason why chicken brooder houses are used is to properly heat the young chicks with the proper required temperature level, proper feed, water, and adequate care.
However, there are many more reasons than the ones mentioned here in this article.
Below are the temperatures that chicks need to survive, some of these includes;
Day 0-7 (95°F)
Day 7-14 (90°F)
Day 14-21 (85°F)
Day 21-28 (80°F)
Day 28-35 (75°F)
Day 35 (70°F).
These are the temperatures of the brooder house the chicks need to survive.
Chicks Brooding Space and Equipment
The normal brooding period, when heat is required, is from the time chicks hatch until they are about six weeks old.
Chicks may be brooded in many places on the farm. The main requirements are adequate space, a reliable source of heat, and proper ventilation. The floor space required for each chick is as follows:
|Age of chicks||Floor space per bird|
|0 to 4 weeks||1/2 square foot|
|4 to 8 weeks||1 square foot|
A chicken brooder house measuring 10 by 12 feet will take care of 120 chicks to eight weeks of age.
The chick guard ring is 12 inches high arranged in a circle 6 feet in diameter around the brooder stove.
The feeders are placed in a spoke-like arrangement radiating outward from underneath the outer portion of the brooder canopy.
This provides chicks access to feed and allows them to move freely in and out from the heat source.
The feeder space recommended for 100 chicks is:
|Age of chicks||Feeder space|
|0 to 4 weeks||12 linear feet or two 3-foot feeders|
|4 to 8 weeks||20 linear feet or two 5-foot feeders|
The amount of waterer space recommended for 100 brooding chicks is:
|Age of chicks||Waterer space|
|0 to 1 week||Six 1-quart jar waterers|
|1 to 4 weeks||Two 2-gallon waterers|
|4 to 12 weeks||Two 5-gallon waterers|
Automatic waterers may be used after the first week.
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Brooder House Heaters
The chicken brooder house heaters are of different types. Below are some of the different brooder house heaters available for brooding in the poultry business (chicken rearing):
(1) Heating plate
The heating plate is the most popular of all brooder heaters, the reason is that it is very easy and safe to use.
Due to its minimal fire risk, most people who are into the brooding business mostly prefer this particular heater.
(2) Brooder lamp
According to our research, this type of chicken brooder house heater used to be the most popular of all brooder heaters, before the advent of the heating plate.
This is because, one simply just have to hang the lamp anywhere, but it is mostly hanged on a chain in the brooder house, then you check the temperature of the brooder house from time to time, to make sure that it is at the normal and required temperature needed to keep the young chicks warm.
Now the reason why the heating plate chanced the brooder lamp, is because in the heating plate method you just have to expose your chicken to it and that’s all not stressful right?
But in the brooder lamp approach, you will have to be checking the brooder house temperature from time to time to ensure that it doesn’t surpass the needed temperature.
Most people often use a thermometer to check the temperature of the brooder house, to ensure that the brooder house is at the minimum required temperature level.
(3) Infrared heater
This type of brooder heater is said or seems to be similar to the heating plate lamp but if we are to compare the heating lamp and this particular type, we would recommend that you go for the heating lamp.
The advantage of this Infrared heater is notable, in the sense that it supplies heat spreading around in every corner of the brooder house.
Unlike the heating plate and brooder lamp, the Infrared heater is said to be thermostatically controlled, this also makes this type of brooder heater expensive, but efficient.
A brooder should consist of these vital things:
(5) Heat source
(6) Perimeter, etc.
The chicken brooder house needs to be secured and kept warm, using a brooder heater.
However, we have discussed the types of heaters with detailed explanations in this article so you can freely consider their benefits and choose which among the different types suits you the best from the list.
And lastly, there should be food and water available at all times in the brooder house.
Routine Activities to be Carried out in a Chicken Brooder House / Management of Chicks in the Brooder House
According to our research and detailed study, below are the recommended routine activities to be carried out in a chicken brooder house / the ideal proper management techniques in the brooder house before and after the arrival of your day-old chicks:
(1) Before Your Baby Chicks Arrive
- If this is the first batch of the season, turn on the brooder several days before the chicks are due to arrive to make sure it still works (often something unfortunate happens in storage, like corrosion). For later batches, start it at least 24 hours in advance.
- Buy or formulate fresh baby chick feed (chick starter).
- Buy or make feeders and waterers.
- Check the temperature under the brooder to make sure everything is okay. Do this enough in advance that you can do whatever it takes to keep from being chilled after they arrive.
- The floor under the brooder must be warm and dry to the touch before the chicks arrive. This is crucial!
- Install a draft guard, 10-18 inches high, around the brooder, with 2-3 feet of space between the edge of the brooder and the draft guard.
- Make sure there’s plenty of light for the chicks to see by. Baby chicks can’t eat or drink in the dark!
- Clean your quart-jar waterers and (if they are reusable) your first feeders.
- While you’re at it, get the equipment that you will use only later into shape as well. Clean, inspect, and repair your automatic watering system (if any), feed troughs, tube feeders, “practice perches,” waterer stands, and other equipment that will be brought into use as the chicks get older.
- Double-check that your brooder is set up for day-old chicks, and has not been left the way it was the last time you used it, throttled back for older chicks who barely needed any heat.
(2) After the Arrival of the Chicks
When the Day-Old Chicks Arrive
- Once your chicks arrive, run the heater in your car to keep them warm on the drive home if the weather is cool. If it’s warm, keep the chick box out of the sun.
- Place the day-old chicks under the brooder without delay. Don’t leave the brooder house door open any more than necessary. Commercial chicken farmers simply turn the chick boxes upside down to dump the chicks under the brooders. This doesn’t harm them and gets them into the warmth with a minimum of delay.
- Give the chicks warm water to drink immediately in quart-jar waterers, with at least one waterer for every 25 chicks. One waterer per 15 chicks is better. After chilling, dehydration is your biggest worry.
- Give the chicks feed in the first feeders either immediately or after three hours (opinions vary). The 3-hour delay is intended to resolve dehydration issues before the issue becomes complicated by feed. First feeders can be egg flats (1 for every 50 chicks), plastic cafeteria trays (1 for every 50 chicks), or the lid or bottom of the box the chicks arrived in.
(3) Other Brooding Management Practices
- Adjust the temperature as per the requirement of the chicks. In the case of oil heating, see that there is no defect in the stove or lamp. Chicks should not have access to the heated parts of the lamp at any cost.
- Avoid a damp poultry house. You can use a deep litter system.
- Discourage litter eating by the chicks, scatter mash over egg case flats when the chicks are first taken out of their boxes.
- Provide a well-balanced standard feed mash for the chicks.
- Make a provision for the entrance of fresh air.
- Provide them with clean, fresh water in front of the birds at least twice daily.
- Chicks, after 3 weeks old may be provided chopped green grasses (to increase Vitamin A intake)
- Clean the brooders including feed hoppers daily.
- Follow a regular vaccination program.
- Avoid overcrowding as this will lead to slow growth and mortality.
- Keep the brooder in such a place that cold wind and rain do not get in.
- Daily inspect the condition of birds and their faces for any sort of abnormality.
- Keep in touch with any veterinarian for help at the time of need.
- It is always advisable to check the fittings, temperature control, feed, and water trough arrangement before shifting the chicks in the brooder.
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Basics and Brooding Requirements for Poultry Chicks
According to research, Below are the ideal basics and brooding requirements for poultry chicks or chicken rearing (poultry farming / poultry rearing).
Temperature differences as small as 0.5-1.0°F can impact overall chick health, behavior, and growth.
Electronic controller technology has given us the ability to monitor and manage temperature precisely, and do this automatically on a real-time, 24-hour basis.
This gives growers a huge management advantage over traditional manual thermostat control. Even so, the old computer adage ‘garbage in = garbage out’ applies to controllers also.
A controller’s management capabilities are only as good as the information from the sensors it uses.
Therefore we must pay close attention to sensor placement! If the ideal starting temperature is 90°F, this means 90°F at the feed and water lines, as consistent as possible.
Proper placement depends on the type of heating system and spacing of inlet vents in the house. Proper ‘ideal’ temperatures can also vary according to individual flock requirements. A good manager always monitors his chicks and makes appropriate adjustments.
However, do not expect temperature adjustments to fix every problem every time.
Temperature is the most commonly monitored and controlled condition in poultry houses but the other brooding basics can be just as important to flock performance.
(2) Litter Management
Litter conditions set the tone for the flock long before the chicks arrive on the farm. For best performance, chicks must be placed on a consistent minimum of four inches of dry bedding at or around 88-92°F.
Anything less will cause losses in performance proportional to the degree of insufficiency.
If chicks are not started on fresh litter, steps must be taken to reduce litter moisture and properly condition the litter to release as much ammonia as possible before flock placement.
Allowing the litter to set in a house cold and wet between flocks is a recipe for disaster.
Remove caked litter as soon as possible after the birds leave.
After this, windowing, using litter conditioning equipment, heating the litter with attic inlets, and ventilating between flocks can all help achieve the goal of dry litter with reduced ammonia at day one.
Top-dressing the brooding chamber and applying a company-approved, ammonia-controlling litter amendment at the manufacturer’s suggested rate and method is also highly recommended.
The goals of litter management are first of all to provide comfortable bedding conditions for the chicks but also to reduce the effect that litter moisture and ammonia have on the environmental control systems.
If we have to manage heating and ventilation to compensate for poor litter conditions, it will be much more difficult and costly – to provide the optimum growing environment chicks need.
Think about it: litter condition sets the tone for air quality, heating, and ventilation through the life of the flock. Good litter sets the stage for success.
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Good environmental control during brooding requires properly executing the minimum ventilation basics:
1. Pressure: A good rule of thumb for pressure is for every 0.01 inches of static pressure measured in the water column, air travels about two feet.
To get the air to the middle of the house near the ceiling requires about 0.10 inches of pressure in a 40-foot wide house.
This means we have to have a house that can pull 0.15 inches or more during a house tightness test with fan power of 1cfm per square foot of floor space.
2. Inlet Door Opening: The required air pressure capability must be combined with the proper perimeter inlet door opening to throw the air to the center of the house.
Too little or too wide of an opening will result in outside air blowing directly onto the feed and water lines and, more importantly, onto the chicks.
Step one of vent management should be to latch-close manually all or most of the vents not located in the brood area of the house, after which additional vents inside the brood area may need to be latched closed to achieve the proper airflow with the desired fan power (typically 1.0 to 1.5cfm per square foot).
The bottom line is you have to get the correct inlet door opening and static pressure to achieve the desired air throw and mixing.
Latching doors or opening doors can be used as a method of fine-tuning your perimeter inlet setup.
A smoke emitter of some type will show exactly where the air is going. Do whatever it takes to get the air to the peak of the ceiling to promote good mixing.
The importance of adjusting vent door openings properly to achieve good moisture removal cannot be over-emphasized.
3. Fan Run Time: Finally, it is essential to calculate the correct amount of minimum ventilation fan run time.
(4) Air Quality
Excess ammonia or carbon dioxide, along with too high or too low relative humidity, can become serious problems, especially during winter flocks.
The only way to solve or reduce air quality problems once they have occurred is to increase the ventilation rate.
But ventilation decisions should be based on accurate assessment of conditions, and neither controller systems nor growers are equipped to monitor air quality factors accurately.
For relative humidity monitoring, inexpensive sensors can be purchased from local hardware stores and placed near mid-house away from heaters and air inlets.
Often controllers can be fit with humidity sensors as well.
Either way, the goal is to maintain in-house relative humidity at 50 to 65 percent during brooding as long as possible.
If the relative humidity is below 50 percent, deduct 15 seconds from minimum ventilation run-time. If it is above 65 percent, add 15 seconds of run-time.
Early morning is an excellent time to judge air quality conditions and make ventilation adjustments if needed. If unsure, adjust one house and compare the next day.
Too-high ammonia (NH3) or carbon dioxide (CO2) levels can impact bird health and growth and can be challenging to control in winter but are more difficult for a grower to measure accurately.
Because growers become accustomed to smelling ammonia, the ‘nose test’ cannot be relied on. Birds can suffer and even be blinded before the grower becomes aware of a serious problem.
Carbon dioxide is odorless, and it takes a while for humans to experience symptoms – headaches, nausea, and sleepiness of excess carbon dioxide levels.
Therefore, growers typically must make judgments about these factors based on observation of birds and bird behavior.
If accurate monitoring equipment is available, ammonia levels should be kept below 25ppm. A minimum of 15 seconds of additional minimum ventilation run-time should be added to houses testing above 25ppm and an additional 30 seconds for over 100ppm.
Carbon dioxide levels should be kept below 3,000ppm. Too-high carbon dioxide levels are usually highest when pre-heating and brooding chicks in tight houses during cold weather when heating systems are running constantly and ventilation run time is lowest.
Fortunately, most ammonia and carbon dioxide problems can be minimized by proper litter management (including the use of ammonia-suppressing amendments) and adequate minimum ventilation (including control of relative humidity).
(5) Feed Availability
Feed availability runs hand in hand with water availability and is of equal importance.
The quicker chicks have access to and consume quality feed, the better start they will have.
The actual amount an individual chick consumes in the first seven days is very small, so the tonnage of feed in the house on day one is not nearly as important as providing access for every chick to easily get to feed.
Another way to say this is that feeding space/opportunity is most important.
Chicks having sufficient access to feed is more than just feeder pan, chick tray, and supplemental feed lid management.
Environmental factors also play a huge role in feed availability because if a chick is uncomfortable (too hot, cold, or in a drought) near the feed trays or lines, it will not eat or drink sufficiently. This can be a severe problem that must be corrected.
Many companies look for about 95 percent of the chicks with feed and water in their crops after 24 hours.
Remember, if a chick is given the choice between comfort and feed or water, it will choose comfort. Make sure every chick gets to feed and water quickly and easily.
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(6) Water Quality and Availability
Having high-quality water freely available can make a huge difference in getting chicks off to a good start. One of the first things a grower should do in case of inconsistent performance is to have a water sample analysis conducted.
Contact your company or local County Extension Office for help with water sampling and analysis. If substantial water quality problems are found, a consultation with a respected water quality expert is in order.
Water quantity problems can be difficult to diagnose but a common-sense approach to making sure chicks have plenty of water available is to do a good job of routine drinker system maintenance.
The importance of getting water into the chick as soon as possible cannot be overstated.
This means that cleaning water systems and activating nipple drinkers before every flock arrives is extremely important.
Also, pay close attention to initial drinker height and make adjustments that reflect bird growth on a routine basis.
Chicks will consume a lot less water than older birds so flushing drinker lines often, in the beginning, will keep the water fresh and promote greater consumption.
Water filters, regulators, and any possible water restriction points must be monitored before and during each flock.
Do not assume water quality and availability are adequate, verify them.
Chicks grow, gain and perform better the quicker they gain access to feed and water, and light stimulation further encourages feed and water consumption.
Specific lighting programs are under constant revision and vary from one integrator to another.
However, the most common recommendation for light intensity when lighting is on calls for a minimum average light intensity of three or more foot candles for the first seven to 10 days, measured along the feed lines between grow lights.
Large shadows, blown bulbs, and insufficient lighting intensity and uniformity are problems that can be identified and corrected with the use of a simple $150-200 digital light meter.
Don’t assume your light intensity is adequate, verify it. Buy a meter and calibrate the dimmer in each house.
Many growers are surprised at how far off their settings are after they measure them with a meter. Now that you have an understanding of what a chicken brooder house is, how long do chicks stay in brooder? Well, the chicks need to be taken good care of in a brooder for at least 6-10 weeks.
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