Chickens are relatively easy animals to maintain once they are adults, but mortality rates can be high while the baby chicks are still growing.
It, therefore, becomes cardinal that measures are put into place to minimize mortalities and improve the growth rate of the chicks at this stage.
Arrival of chicks
At least a week before the chicks arrive, it is important to ensure that the brooding house is cleaned and disinfected. The waterers and feeders must be full even before the chicks arrive. Fill the waterers with fresh clean water and all feeders with starter feed.
A newly hatched chick does not fully develop the thermoregulatory mechanism and takes about two weeks to develop this mechanism and homeostasis. Therefore, they cannot maintain their body temperature for the first few weeks of life and may be subjected to chilling if not properly taken care of. This is where brooding comes into play. Brooding is the provision of artificial heat to help the chicks with temperature regulation.
The heat can be provided by electricity, gas, or charcoal stoves. The brooder area must be comfortable, warm, well-ventilated and have dry bedding. The area must be ready at least 24 hours before the chicks arrive. Once the chicks arrive, place them in the brooding area so that they are kept warm. Feed efficiency is affected by brooding temperatures. When temperatures get low, the feed efficiency is also reduced as the chicks use the feed to generate heat instead of growth, hence the importance of brooding in the early stages of life of the chicks.
The chicks need to feed immediately when they arrive from the hatchery to minimize the hours of fasting. Prolonged fasting has a negative effect on growth. Early development of the digestive function in the newly hatched chick will enable it to better utilize nutrients and grow efficiently. Digestive tract growth and function in the newly hatched chick improve when the chick has early access to feed and water. Delaying access to feed and water decreases performance and results in loss of body weight.
Studies have shown that early access to feed enhances body weight and the development of the intestine. Skeletal muscle growth is stimulated and this results in a good carcass yield at the end of the cycle. It is therefore imperative that the day-old chick is fed on diets that are highly digestible owing to the fact that its digestive system is still immature and undergoing development.
The day-old chick will be fed on a starter crumble that is high in protein. The Novatek Broiler Pre-Starter and Starter diets contain high-quality nutrients for the healthy growth of the chicks. Ensure that the chick is given enough high-quality feed, especially during the early phase of life for its development. For more information on raising chicks, contact our nutritionists or sales technical team for assistance.