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BROODING AND REARING
ASSISTANT EXTENSION POULTRYMAN
Florida Agricultural Extension Service
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida, Gainesville
Brooding and Rearing 100 Chicks
The successful raising of chicks by 4-H club
members and other owners of small flocks requires
that good brooding and rearing practices be fol-
In brooding and rearing 100 chicks, the same
basic management practices are followed as in
the brooding and rearing of large commercial
Start With Good Chicks
Chicks can be started anytime during the year,
however, it is best for small flock owners to start
their chicks in March or April.
Dual-purpose breeds, such as Rhode Island Reds
and the Sex-Link Cross (RIR crossed with Barred
Plymouth Rock) are desirable for a small flock.
The White Leghorn is an excellent egg producer
but because of its flighty and nervous disposition
is generally not used in small flocks.
Purchase chicks from a reliable hatchery or
feed store. Straight-run chicks (males and fe-
males) will cost about half as much per chick as
pullet chicks. Pullet chicks should be purchased
when all layers are desired. Avoid using broiler
chicks for egg production.
Before your chicks arrive, be sure that you
have a room or area on the place that can be used
for brooding the chicks. An empty space in a
dwelling, garage, barn, or other buildings can be
remodeled f r use in brooding.
Th broo e house should be well ventilated,
Save access to electricity.
Allow one square foot of floor space per chick,
thus a house, pen, or area that is 10 feet by 10
feet will house 100 baby chicks.
If an old brooder house is used it should be
cleaned and disinfected. Hot lye water is one of
the best disinfecting agents available. Use one
can of lye to 12 to 15 gallons of water. After
cleaning, allow the house to dry thoroughly.
After the brooder area has been cleaned, disin-
fected, and is dry, cover the floor with 4 to 6
inches of dry litter. Wood shavings, sawdust,, pea-
nut hulls, sugar cane bagassee, or chopped straw
can be used for litter material.
The brooder is a source of heat to keep the
chicks warm during the first 4 to 6 weeks of age.
The infra-red heat lamp, as described in Circular
113-A (ask your County Agent for a copy) is ideal
for brooding 100 chicks.
Another inexpensive method of supplying heat
is to place a hundred-watt light bulb inside a gal-
lon can and place the can on the floor of the brood-
er house. Two brooders of this type will be needed
for each 100 chicks.
When hover-type brooders are used, the tem-
perature under the brooder should be 95F during
the first week of the chicks' life, 90F the second
week, 85" the third week and 80 the fourth week.
By observing the chicks you can determine if
they are comfortable. Chicks that are evenly dis-
tribute over the floor and are busily eating and
drinking are comfortable and the brooder temper-
ature is adequate. If the chicks droop their wings
and keep their mouths open the brooder is too hot
and corrective measures should be taken. When
the chicks huddle together, pile up and emit a loud
chirp they are chilled and more heat is needed.
Overheating and chilling can result in a high mor-
A chick guard is a circular fence about 18 inch-
es high placed around the brooder to keep the
chicks confined to the source of heat and eliminate
The guard can be made from cardboard, sheet
metal or other suitable material.
When using a heat lamp the guard should be 4
to 6 feet in diameter. The guard can be removed
when the chicks are 8 to 10 days old.
Use a good commercial all-mash starting feed
for the first 6 to 8 weeks, and then change to an;
all-mash growing feed. Continue to feed the grow-
ing mash until the pullets start to lay. Keep feed
before the birds at all times.
To properly feed 100 baby chicks for the first 2
weeks will require two feed troughs (baby chick
size) each 2 feet long. When the chicks are 3
weeks old, change to medium size feeders, using
two 4-foot feeders.
After the birds are 12 weeks old provide one 4-
foot feeder for each 25 birds.
Adequate feeder space is important for chicks
to grow properly.
Avoid feed wastage. Feed troughs can be filled
during first day or two of the chicks' life. From
then on- feeders should be filled from 1/ to 2/ full.
Avoiding feed wastage will reduce feed bill. About
20 pounds of feed (starter and growing) is re-
quired to grow a pullet from 1 day to 5 months
old, or about the time the pullet should start
A plentiful supply of cool, clean drinking water
is one of the most important requirements in rais-
ing chicks-and the least expensive. Be sure your
chicks have adequate water all day long and every
One hundred chicks will need two 1-gallon
water founts. Place the founts on a short piece of
board (1" x 6" x 6") to help keep litter out of the
water and thus keep the water clean.
When chicks are about 4 weeks old, change to
a larger water fount. Two 3-gallon double-wall
founts, one 5-gallon double-wall fount, or one au-
tomatic fount will supply the chicks' daily need
for water. These same large or automatic founts
can be used during the growing and laying period.
It is very important that a cool, clean supply of
water be available to the birds at all times. Clean
the water founts daily and keep them out of the
Some Helpful Hints
Watch your chicks closely the first day and
night to see that they are comfortable. They
should be provided with a warm, dry place with
feed and water.
Don't fill the feed troughs too full or the chicks
will scratch the feed out and waste it.
Stir and keep litter dry. Remove any litter that
becomes wet. Wet litter is an excellent place for
disease germs and parasites to grow.
After the first week, increase the amount of
air in the brooder house to allow for good venti-
Watch out for coccidiosis in your chicks. This
disease generally affects chicks between 2 and 10
weeks of age. Symptoms include bloody drop-
pings, ruffled feathers, drooped wings and the
chick is usually pale, cold and listless. To control
the disease, use sulfamethazine or sulfaquinoxa-
line in the drinking water following the directions
on the bottle of drugs.
Cannibalism (birds pecking one another until
blood shows) can become a problem if birds be-
come overheated or overcrowded. Provide plenty
of fresh air and more space (2-3 sq. ft.) as chicks
grow. Chicks can be debeaked to prevent canni-
balism. Using stop-pick salves, or feeding grass
clippings or whole oats will help control cannibal-
ism. When they are 3 to 4 weeks old, chicks can
be let out into a fenced yard on clean ground.
Separate cockerels from the pullets when 6 to
8 weeks of age. When the cockerels weigh about
3 pounds each they should be eaten, sold or placed
in the freezer.
Vaccinate your birds against fowl pox before
they are 8 weeks old. The ideal time to vaccinate
is during the fifth or sixth week. Vaccination is
simple and inexpensive. Get your County Agent
to show you how it is done.
Keep chicks and growing pullets away from old
birds at all times.
Provide some shade during hot summer months.
Have nests available to pullets before produc-
To sum it all up-REMEMBER!!
1. Start with good chicks.
2. Use a good brooder.
3. Feed a starting mash and a growing
4. Provide cool clean drinking water.
5. Keep the poultry house clean, dry, and
By following these suggestions you should have
a group of healthy pullets ready to start laying
at five to six months of age.
Keep an accurate and up-to-date record on your
poultry flock. Ask your County Agent for a 4-HI
Poultry Record Book, also for a copy of Circular
212, "Managing The Small Laying Flock."
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN
AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida
United States Department of Agriculture. Cooperating
M. 0. Watkins, Director