Simple overlooked issues are costly.

Brooding is the period immediately after hatch when special care and attention must be given to chicks to ensure their health and survival. In nature, a broody hen takes over all brooding requirements and makes sure all the necessary conditions needed for her chicks to grow are met.

On a commercial farm, the farmer must ensure that the brooding conditions important for getting chicks off to a good start, are in place. It is necessary to have an accurate assessment of the environmental conditions into which the chicks are being placed. The desired conditions can be achieved and managed by using the correct equipment in the correct way.

Equipment that can be used to monitor brooding conditions are:


  • Purpose: To take individual weights to determine general weight gain. To determine the progressive weights and the FCR (food conversion rate), and calculate the CV (coefficient of variation).
  • Methodology: Individual weights of a sample of up to 10% of the total flock are taken weekly.
  • Specification: An electronic small scale, minimum 100 g and maximum 5 kg capacity.


  • Purpose: To measure brooding temperatures, to manage and maintain ideal room temperatures and to regulate temperatures according to the condition requirements.
  • Methodology: Random temperature measurement using infrared thermometer checks at different points in the brooder is important. This should be done every 2 hours for the first 72 hours and thereafter every 8 hours up to 21 days of birds’ age.
  • Specification: The infrared thermometer or any other digital type is the ideal thermometer and gives an accurate result.

Crop check

  • Purpose: To monitor the rate at which birds consume feed within few hours of their life.
  • Methodology: Handling each chick with care, gently feel the crop of each chick in the pen using your thumb and forefinger.
  • Specification: Record the content of the crop of each chick using the following categories: Full, soft, and rounded. – Rounded and soft means chicks took feed and water. – Full but hard with original feed texture indicates that chicks took feed but little or no water. – Crop empty is an indication that chicks have not located feed and water yet.

Chick behaviour

  • Purpose: To determine the healthiness of the chicks in the first few hours of their life in the pen.
  • Methodology: Physical assessment.
  • Specification: Take time to move around and observe the following on the chicks. Eyes alertness, leg smoothness, movements, and sound produced. This should be done every 8 hours for the first 72 hours.

The best way to ensure happy chicks is to physically examine them and take corrective actions if needed.

Communication and teamwork

Strong communication and coordination between all those involved in helping your farm to run smoothly should ensure a stronger and more successful management programme for your birds. Above all, listen to technical advice for better results. Be proactive, not reactive. Stay tuned for part 3 which will follow in the next edition of ProAgri Zambia.

Contact Given at +260 97-540- 3834 or +260 96-793-3658 or for more information.