Brooding Gamebirds & Poultry


What You Need To Know!

  Gamebird  and Poultry  producers realize that chicks must be kept warm or brooded  during the first weeks of life. Surprisingly, improper brooding is one  of the most common causes of stress.

Three basic methods are used to brood chicks.

The  chicks have localized heat source and access to a cooler, unheated  area. The chicks determine their own heating needs by moving from hot to  cold areas and vice versa. This method is known as spot brooding.

A  large area around the brooders is warmed to the same temperature when  whole house brooding. The chicks have no choice between warm and cool  areas.

Partial-house  brooding--Partial-house brooding is much like whole house brooding,  since the total brooding area is warmed. To save energy, however, the  brooding area is reduced to the minimum amount needed for the size of  chicks. As the chicks grow, the brooding area is increased in accordance  to their sizes. Good ventilation is essential with all brooding systems  but especially partial-house brooding.

Light  the brooders 24 hours before the chicks hatch or arrive. Determine if  the brooders are working properly, and adjust the temperature to 90 to  95 °F below the outer edge of the brooder (1 inch above the litter). In  time of stress or vaccination reactions, increase brooder temperatures  about 5 ° above the recommended temperature until the chicks recover.
Place  an 18-inch-high, solid-type brooder guard around each brooder. Locate  the guard 3 to 4 feet from the edge of the brooder. The guard prevents  floor drafts and keeps chicks near the heat. In summer, enlarge the ring  to keep chicks from getting too hot. Expand the guard a little each day  (about 20 to 25 percent total area increase) until it is no longer  needed after 7 to 14 days. You should reduce the temperature by 5  degrees a week until they can tolerate a normal outside temperature.
Corrugated  cardboard makes an excellent brooder guard and can be discarded when it  becomes soiled. In hot weather, hardware cloth or similar mesh material  may be used instead of solid guard. Most of these guards are cleaned,  disinfected, and reused.
Place an adequate number of feeders and  waterers around each brooder. Provide at least two 1-gallon waterers and  two 12-inch or 18-inch chick feeders for every 100 chicks. Feed placed  on a few feeder lids or egg flats under each brooder encourages the  chicks to start eating sooner.
Sprinkle a pile of feed on each lid  before placing chicks under brooder. Remove lids when all feed is eaten  or after 4 to 6 days. Do not use anything that is will become slippery  if they walk on it.

Place long waterers or feeders in the  brooding area, pointing toward the heat source. If placed parallel to  the brooder guard, small chicks may be prevented from returning to the  warmth. (At 1 day of age, they have not learned they sometimes have to  go around a long object to get back to the warmth.) Placing feeders in a  "wagon spoke" fashion also insures that a section of each feeder is  always in a comfort zone. Locate the inner end of the feeder under or  slightly outside the outer edge of the brooder or hover. Never place all  the waterers and feeders directly under the brooder. The area under the  brooder must be kept clear for brooding the chicks.

The  day-old chick's temperature is about 3 °F below that of an adult's. Its  body temperature starts rising about 4 days of age and reaches its  maximum at 10 days. The chick needs time to develop temperature control  (2 to 4 weeks). As the chick grows older, the downy coat is replaced  with feathers, and brooder temperature must be reduced according to the  temperature schedule. You should reduce the heat by 5 degrees per week  until they can tolerate a normal outside temperature. 

Important To Always Remember!


  • Never overcrowd birds in brooders.
  • Use red lights when in brooders. (this will prevent pecking)
  • Keep brooders out of drafts.
  • Start birds on 1/4" wire and move to 1/2" wire at about two weeks of age.
  • Keep feed and fresh water in front of them at all times.
  • Use 28% protein starter feed until 6 weeks of age.