Brooder and Chick Mortality


Farmers, especially newbies, experience high chick mortality during brooding. This ranges from 1 to 100%!
Cases of farmers losing all chicks during brooding are many.

This can be avoided.

Raising up your chicks in controlled environment from day 1 to about 4 weeks is critical.
Brooders should have cylindrical walls. Use plywood as it can bend well without snapping.
Use a good source of heat such as brooder clay pots or jikos or heat lamps.
Each source of heat should serve about 200 to 300 chicks and be placed at the centre of the brooder.
Don't use wood shavings for day old to 4 days. Spread newspapers or cartons on the floor. Have sufficient feeders/drinkers, at least 1 for every 20 chicks. Provide light at night
Start off your feeding program with starter crumbs to help the chicka gain weight fast. Introduce chick mash after 1 week or feed on starter crumbs exclusively for the first 4 weeks n chickmash to 8 weeks. If changing to chickmash at 1 week, feed up to 8 weeks. Provide chickstart
Chick start has enough glucose and will help in stabilizing chicks after transportation. Multivitamins will be very helpful at this early stage.

However, with all this setup and program you will still experience chick mortality.
What causes this menace and how do you prevent?
Mortality can be caused by a number of factors:
Genetic factors such as congenital loco and congenital tremors are lethal and would wipe out your stock in 1st week. Responsibility?
Prevention: buy chicks from certified or keen farmers who select breeder stocks carefully.
Poor Management
This ranges from high or low temperatures which result to dehydration n pasting (sticking of feaces around the anus and blocking it causing death). Low temperatures cause chilling n pneumonia = DEATH!
Prevention: Adjust room temperatures 5hrs to bringing chicks
Feed Related
Buy fresh feeds and check expiry before purchasing. I lost over 1000 chicks due to expired feeds from Giatri Agrovet. I will never forget mentioning that shop!
Fungal infections will emerge from poor feeds. Drinking dirty water n spillage mixing with sawdust n feeds
Cause amonia, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide= DEATH!
Have proper litter and feed management. Include Active D in feeds. Use wood shavings, rice or coffee husks instead of sawdust. Don't use smoking charcoal. Ensure sufficient ventilation in the room to let out gases.
Hatched chicks have low immunity. Poor hygene results in emergence of diseases that can be easily prevented via cleanliness.
Pollorum is common, highly infectious and very acute. Ophalitis affecting the navel. It results into nonabsorption of yolk that rots n smells.
Salmonellosis Can also wipe out all your chicks and spread to aged chickens. Calibacillosis is a bacterial infection of blood and is more prevalent in chicks.

Prevention of the above diseases:
Hygiene or Strict Bio-Safety. Cleanliness of feeds, water, surface and environment.
Fumigate the brooder before introducing new stock. You can also disinfect the brooder using strong disinfectants such as Viruchoc.
Setup your brooder space based on number of chicks to provide sufficient room n avoid overcrowding, dumpness n starvation. Aggressive chicks dominate
Pendulous crop or impaction can also occur if your chicks feed on sawdust. Avoid! Day old chicks can't differentiate feeds from litter. So use newspaper or cartons as advised above. Remove after 4~5 days to avoid coccidiosis and introduce wood shavings.
Handle chicks with care.
During vaccinations, ensure chicks are handled carefully to avoid transfer of infections and injuries.
Buckets, feeders and drinkers might be placed on chicks and this kills them. Be careful when conducting any activity in the brooder.
Have standby boots to wear before entering
These boots must not leave the brooder area.
Vaccinate based on schedule. Some diseases start early and can be avoided by vaccines.
When vaccinating, provide stress relievers as chicks get vaccine shocks and get stressed. Chick start also helps reduce stress in day old. Use it.
To ensure the chicks avoid digestive complications, use liquid paraffin for chicks. Fill the drinker with water and set it down first then put drops outside the drinker.Dont put in the oil before turning the drinker upside down as oil is lighter than water so it will not come out
Providing sufficient light during the first 4 weeks is important. This should be at night and let in natural light during day time. Dont stop abruptly. Introduce darkness slowly at week 4 until you can now switch off completely at night. Avoid sharp corners in your brooder.
Checking crop fill is important to ensure that all your chicks are feeding well and not starving. You can do this by simply pressing the crop.
Make a habit of high bio safety practices n check all measures discussed and see you after 4 weeks with all your chicks live n healthy.
If you are doing kienyeji chicks, introduce them to sunlight from 3 weeks and have a feeding and playing area outside in the open once they get to 4 weeks. The effect is incredible. I actually start doing this at 2 weeks but to be safe do it from 4 weeks. 😊
In case of any contributions, please feel free to post here. For any questions on this topic, please don't DM, post it here so that other experts can tackle and all farmers benefit from the information you receive.
Enjoy your brooding experience. Won't you? 😊
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