Your small chicks need special attention as they are delicate and easily affected by diseases. When properly managed, your chicks will adopt into their new environment within a month or two and will be more stable.

chicks in a brooder, kenya

Figure 2: chicks in a brooder

  • Clean the chicks house before bringing the young chicks
  • Avoid overcrowding the chicks. Allow 25 chicks per m2 (layers) and 20 (broilers) chicks per m
  • A heated chicks house is called a brooder. A good brooder can be made out of hard-boards. A chick brooder should have the following;
    • Litter materials on the floor: litter materials can be wood shavings, rice husks, coffee husks or soft dry grass on the floor to regulate floor temperature and to absorb moisture from chick droppings. Sawdust is also used as litter material but can easily be breathed in by the young chicks bringing respiratory complications. The litter material should be evenly spread at 3 inches
    • Water: ensure clean water by replacing it at least twice a day. Avoid drinkers that can drown or soak chicks when they are young. Place drinkers within a distance of less than 1.5 m from the chicks. One drinker can serve 50 chicks
    • Feeds: provide chick mash for the first eight weeks. Ensure that the feeds contain anti-coccid which makes digestion easier. During the first days, spread chick mash on newspapers or carton pieces before moving to feeders. This will help the chicks easily identify the feeds and access them better. Feeders should not cover more than 70% of the brooder. One feeder can serve 20 chicks
    • Source of warmth: warm the chicken house 6-12 hours depending on the weather before bringing in the chicks. If you have a thermometer, make sure that the temperature of the brooder is 32 to 34 degrees centigrade. Warmth in the brooder can be supplied by a lamp (1 for every 50 chicks), a jiko (1 brooder jiko for 100 chicks), or electricity (1 infra red bulb for 200 chicks). The amount of warmth may vary according to your region, make sure you observe if the chicks have the right temperature (Figure 3)
    • NB: if you do not have a brooder, let the chicks stay with their mother for 2-4 weeks
  •  For the small chicks, their intestines may not be ready for food. To clear the chicks’ intestines use the following solution for 10 chicks;
    • Pour 1 t-spoon of liquid paraffin in 0.3L lukewarm water or until you see a thin film on the water (paraffin will not dissolve in water)
    • Add a table-spoon of glucose and dissolve
  • Show the chicks how to drink by lowering one by one to the drinker and pointing their beaks at the solution. Allow them to rest for two hours
  • Keep chicks confined for the first four weeks to protect them from predators
  •  Vaccinate the chicks according to the vaccination program. In Kenya, you can get the vaccination program from the ministry of agriculture. Make sure that the chicks have mareks vaccination from the hatchery
  • Regulate the temperature in the brooder as the chicks grow older.From two weeks, the chicks start developing feathers and need less artificial warmth. At four weeks, the chicks can do without the heaters. Check if your chicks have the right temperature by looking at their behaviour as in the diagram below;
chick behaviour under different brooding temperatures

Figure 3: how chicks will behave at different temperatures in the brooder

Table 3: trouble shooting for chicks

Problem Cause What to do
Hard droppings/ blood in droppings Food/ digestion Give special attention to diet in early stages. Include paraffin and anti-coccidiostat for easy digestion
Poor  feeding, inactive, huddled together Cold Use a lamp/jiko or infra red bulb to keep chicks warm
Chicks disappearing Predators e.g. eagles Keep chicks in their house/brooder
Twisted neck, sudden deaths Newcastle disease Vaccinate according to the program, bury infected chicks
Watery eyes, closed eyes Eye infection Use antibiotics

Once you have observed these management tips, your chicks are sure to mature into growers.

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