The majority of chicks reared
on a relatively small scale are reared under
infra-red heating elements
where the chicks can be easily observed both
day and night. When using
an infra-red element, it is preferable to use one that does not emit any
light. These are called
dull emitters. Using the old
fashioned red or
white light infra-red elements gives growing chicks constant light,
encouraging early maturing, as well as feather pecking and other
vices. The element that gives off a strong white light is worse than the red
because if a chick damages itself accidentally or is pecked, the wound, if
it bleeds, will attract all the other chicks to attack it.
makes blood appear black, so helping to reduce the possibility of further
dull emitter gives the owner some control over lighting
patterns, such as a ten or twelve hour day during the growing period.
Birds without strong
light throughout the night are less nervous, settling
easily and quickly once the lights go out. If the rearer is worried that
when the light is turned off
chicks are unable to find their way back to
the heat source, a small 15 watt red pigmy
bulb may be fitted near the
ceiling and kept on overnight.
Cover the floor of the brooder
house with 7- 10cm (3-4") of clean
wood shavings. The starting
temperature on the floor over which the brooder is hung should be
in the region of 33°C (95°F). Suspend the
brooder heat unit 41-48cm (1-18") above the litter. The reason for the variation in height is that it
takes into consideration
room temperature and breed of bird. Apart from
the obvious distinction between bantams and large fowl, some breeds of
large fowl require different temperatures.
Give the new chicks a full half
hour to settle before making any adjustment to the brooder height. If the
chicks are huddling together and standing on tiptoe at the
centre of the
brooder, they are too cold and the brooder will need to be lowered.
However, if they are well spread out in a circle away from the heat
source, they are
too hot so the brooder will need raising. Ideally, chicks
should be evenly spread under the heat with a little clear area at the
centre about the size of a cup's diameter.
Ensure the brooder house has
plenty of space for the chicks to move about.
If you were to take the trouble to sit on a chair in the brooder
house after the lights have gone out and observe the chicks, it would be
seen that those on the outer edge of the brooder as they cool down,
into the centre by running over the backs of the others, and those who
have become too hot move out. This movement will continue
night. It is therefore vital that there is sufficient room for the chicks
to get away from the heat to allow natural feather growth.
If you are going to use the type of
'hot-plate' brooder which the chicks run under, then it should low enough for the chicks to touch with their
During the first 4 weeks of
age, the room temperature can gradually be decreased to between 15°C -
18°C (60°F - 65°F).
Chicks should be 'off heat' (i.e. the brooders turned
off) by the 8th week.
Please do not attempt to
turn off the heater too early.
The best way to tell is by visiting the chick room during the late evening
to see whether the chicks are still under the brooder or spread well out