A broiler is a type of a chicken that is reared specifically for meat. Brooding is the most critical period of a broiler’s life. This is the period after hatch, when special care and attention must be given to chicks to ensure their good health, growth, and survival.

From day 0 to 14 days (up to 21 days in cold season) is also referred to as the “make or break period” because whatever happens during this period will determine whether your rearing will be a success or failure.

Fundamental principles of brooding (special care)


This helps provide oxygen, remove waste gases, and regulate humidity in the poultry.

Stocking density

This helps maximise the space in the poultry house to ensure birds have enough feeding space as well as comfort.

Temperature and relative humidity

This helps provide the required warmth in the poultry and should be monitored by use of a thermometer but more especially, chick behavior.


This is the most expensive component in broiler management as it accounts for over 70% of the total cost. Good quality feed coupled with good management practices will enable you to achieve your goals.


Water is the most overlooked nutrient in poultry. Water consumption affects feed consumption and can be a source of infection.


Poor lighting will affect the performance of broilers, ensure that there is enough light in the poultry.

Litter management

Well managed litter will help reduce disease occurrences. Ensure that litter is dry and loose.

Common poultry diseases that will affect growth of broilers:

Gumboro (Infectious bursal disease)

A highly contagious viral disease of young chickens and turkeys characterised by immunosuppression and mortality generally at 3 to 6 weeks of age. Caused by infectious bursal disease virus.

Clinical signs

Subclinical form:

  • Most important form economically
  • Cause severe long-lasting immuno-suppression due to destruction of mature lymphocytes in the bursa of fabricius, thymus, and spleen
  • Poor response to vaccination and predisposition to other infections

Clinical form:

  • Sudden onset with an incubation period of 3 to 4 days
  • Severe prostration, incoordination, watery diarrhoea, soiled vent feathers, vent picking, and inflammation of cloaca
  • Recovery within one week
  • Delayed weight gain in broilers


Vaccination is the best preventative measure as there is no treatment for viral infection except secondary bacterial infection.

Newcastle disease

This a severe systemic, and fatal viral disease of poultry which affects domestic birds like chickens and turkeys caused by the RNA virus, Paramyxovirus -1(APMV -1).

Clinical signs

  • Respiratory signs: Gasping, coughing, sneezing, rales.
  • Nervous signs: Dropping wings, dragging legs, twisting neck and head, circling, depression inappetence. Chronic spasms in moribund birds.
  • Intestinal: Watery greenish diarrhea.


Vaccination is the best preventative measure as there is no treatment for viral infection except secondary bacterial infection.


  • Coccidia are almost universally present in poultry-raising operations
  • Clinical disease occurs only after ingestion of relatively large numbers of sporulated oocysts by susceptible birds
  • Source – clinically infected and recovered birds
  • Oocysts contaminate feed, dust, water, litter and soil
  • Under optimal conditions of moisture and oxygen, oocyst sporulate in 1 to 2 days and become infective. Clinical Signs
  • Decreased growth rate
  • High percentage of visibly sick birds
  • Severe diarrhoea – may be bloody
  • High mortality
  • Decreased feed and water intake
  • Weight loss

Prevention and treatment

Good litter management. Consult an animal health specialist for treatment.

Novatek is well known as Zambia’s leading stock feed producer and distributor. They pride themselves in supplying the best quality feed across the country. For information on Novatek’s wide range of products and quality feed, contact Robert Kanyembo, Novatek National Sales Manageron (+260) 97-125-2522.