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