How you set up your barn prior to chicks arriving, as well as bird management in the first 7-10 days of life can have a huge impact on the performance of your broiler flock. The goal is to have chicks delivered to the farm as soon as possible post-hatch and fed immediately.
It is a dramatic and stressful change for the chicks as they move from the hatchery environment to the barn environment. Chicks must have access to feed and water immediately as they need to establish normal feeding and drinking behaviors.
If the flock gets to feed quickly and there are no other factors (e.g., nutritional, environmental or disease challenges), you can expect the 7 day body weight to be four or five times greater than the day old chick weight.
Key Points For Success
- Preheat the barn so that the litter can reach room temperature
- Before the chicks arrive cover the floor with about 5-10cm of clean, dry litter material
- Ensure the barn reaches the correct temperature and humidity with good air quality at least 24 hours before chicks arrive
- Maintaining the barn around 50% relative humidity will help keep the barn dry throughout the flock
- Provide chicks access to feed and water immediately at placement
- Provide 70g-100g per bird of feed on the floor so that birds can find feed at the floor level in the first days of its life
- Feed system must be flooded
- Activate each nipple by hand so that a droplet of water is visible to the birds
- Lighting should be bright enough that it causes a reflection on the water droplet to help stimulate birds to find the water
- Check and adjust feeders and drinkers regularly
- Watch the birds and use chick behavior as an indicator of comfort
To learn more about starting broiler chicks off well contact a New-Life Mills Poultry Specialist.