Chicks make the foundation of every poultry.
Small farms, medium-scale farms, and large-scale farms all rely on baby chicks for a fresh start in production.
If you are ever uncertain about how to care for your chicks to avoid mortalities, we have compiled a list of best practices that you can use to care for your chicks.
How to take care of a baby chick at home
You will need the following materials and equipment to care for chicks at home. If you don’t have any of these items, you can improvise simple solutions at home to keep your young birds safe.
- Heat source
- Floor material
What is a brooder in poultry?
Naturally, after hatching, the mother hen keeps the baby chicks beneath her for a few days before releasing them. The mother hen will every now and then provide them with warmth until they have enough feathers to keep their bodies warm.
Everyone, at some point in their lives, performs the act of the mother hen when it comes to caring for chicks. We don’t sit on the babies in our case, but we do set up an artificial brooding system (brooder house) to keep our babies warm until they are ready to go without the artificial heat source.
What is the best heat source for a brooder?
A lamp suspended over the chicks is the best heat source for a brooder. The heat lamp is the best source of heat if you have a steady supply of electricity.
What are the three sources of heat for artificial brooding
- The Heat lamp: Many people like to use the lamp as a source of heat for artificial brooding when raising their baby chicks. Unless there is a power outage, it is more stable and reliable.
- Clay Pot: Another good option for heating lamps is to use a clay pot and coal, especially if you live in an area without electricity. The clay pot is also inexpensive in terms of providing warmth to baby chicks.
- Gas brooder: The gas brooder is preferred over the other heat sources in most commercial farms and areas where gas is inexpensive, but it requires a lot of attention when using the gas for brooding.
Importance of brooding in poultry
Here is the importance of brooding and why you should not ignore it during the early stages of your chicks’ development.
- The brooding stage helps to keep the chicks warm until they develop enough feathers.
- During this stage, the chicks learn how to pick up feed and drink from the drinkers.
- Brooding enhance their system by boosting their immune system.
- It enables the chicks to adapt to their new environment.
How long is the brooding period?
Ideally, the longest period for brooding should be 14 days or a maximum of two weeks. During this time, baby chicks are expected to develop enough feathers to keep themselves warm.
What should I put on the floor of my brooder?
The best floor material to use for your brooding should be a biodegradable material with high absorption ability. Below is a list of floor materials you can use during brooding.
- Pine shaving
- Wood shaving
- Paper spread
People will tell you that sawdust is the best floor or litter to use, but keep in mind that sawdust is literally dusty and can cause respiratory disease in your birds from breathing in the dusty particles or picking and becoming choked by the sawdust.
Feeder for brooding
Homemade DIY brooding feeder for chickens
Simple items such as trays, plates, or bowls can be used as feeders for your baby chicks at home.
Keep the feeder clean and free of moisture at all times. It is normal for chicks to fill the feeder with wood shavings or pine shavings as they move about. This occasionally obscures the feed and renders them ineligible to see. Always make an effort to remove debris from the feeder.
Drinkers for poultry
You can use bowls that are not too deep to store water for your baby chicks to drink from, just as we did with the feeders for the baby chicks. Always remember to clean the drinkers and replace their water in the morning.
Thermometer for brooding
What kind of thermometer goes in a brooder?
During brooding, you will need a thermometer that displays both Celcius and Fahrenheit temperature readings. Here is a sample of the thermometer.
What temperature is best for brooding?
- 0 – 1 week old: 93° to 95°F (33.9° to 35°C)
- 1 – 2 weeks old: 88° to 90°F (31.1° to 32.2°C)
- 2 – 3 weeks old: 83° to 85°F (28.3° to 29.4°C)
Chicken Condos – Thermometer
Footbath and disinfectants
The purpose of installing a footbath and disinfectant is to control the spread of bacteria that could cause infections in your baby chicks.
The footbath should be situated directly in front of the brooder house. To avoid soil-borne contamination, you must step into it before entering the brooder.
Here is a list of chemical compounds to use as disinfectants
- Phenolic compounds
- Quaternary ammonium compound
- Chlorine compounds
- Oxidizing compounds