AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
HOUSING AND EQUIPMENT FOR
BROODING AND GROWING
By J. S. MOORE
Poultryman, Florida Agricultural Extension Service
Fig. 1.-Range shelters and waterers and pullets on range.
A-. .6, '1
Good Housing and Equipment Means:
1. Ample Space
2. Proper Ventilation
3. Economy in Construction
4. Convenient for Operator
5. Adequate Equipment Including Waterers and Feeders
Housing and equipment for brooding and growing replace-
ment pullets is one of the essentials of good poultry management.
Many poultry farms in Florida start their development with
the construction of a laying house similar to the house described
in Circular 156. The house is used the first year for brooding,
growing and laying. Laying houses are constructed each year
and used for all 3 purposes until the capacity of the farm is
reached. The poultryman must then make a decision whether to
continue to use these laying houses for brooding and growing
as well as for laying, or to construct brooder houses to brood and
grow the necessary replacement pullets. If several groups of
pullets are grown out each year, the construction of a house or
houses for brooding and growing should be considered.
A house to be used for brooding and growing affords these
1. It can be constructed at some distance, at least 400 feet,
from existing laying houses, thus decreasing the possibility of
the spread of disease from the laying flock to the young flock.
2. One or more persons can be assigned solely to the brood-
ing and growing of the replacement pullets, again tending to
prevent the spread of disease and parasites.
3. Laying houses can be utilized at all times to their full
capacity for the production of eggs.
WAYS OF BROODING
Chicks for replacement pullets may be brooded in the fol-
1. On the floor with litter.
2. On wire or slat floors.
3. In battery brooders.
All 3 methods of brooding are employed. However, the majority
of chicks in Florida are brooded on the floor.
THE BROODER HOUSE
Any house used should include the following features:
1. A floor that can be kept dry and can be cleaned easily.
2. A roof and walls that give protection from rains and
3. Provides for good ventilation, yet can be kept warm.
4. Can be made comfortable for both the chicks and the
THE BATTERY ROOM
Where only a few batteries are set up, almost any room where
ventilation and temperature can be controlled may be used. If
a large number of batteries are to be used in 1 room, a fan for
the circulation of fresh air and for ventilation should be installed.
The room should be well insulated to maintain an almost con-
stant temperature. An ample supply of fresh air without drafts
and without changing the temperature of the room is very im-
The following are essentials for floor brooding with litter:
Floor Space.-Allow 1/2 square foot of floor space per chick
started. If the chicks are to remain in the brooder house for
8 weeks, allow 1 square foot of space for each chick.
Litter.-Cover the entire floor with 2 to 3 inches of clean, dry
litter. The following materials may be used for litter-shav-
ings, sawdust, cane pomace, peanut hulls or ground corn cobs.
Shavings are the most popular litter.
Brooder and Brooder Space.-Provide 1 brooder for each 300
to 350 chicks, or allow a minimum of 7 square inches of brooder
space under the hover for each chick.
Chick Guards.-Provide one chick guard for each brooder.
Guards may be of aluminum, wire netting, roofing or cardboard!
Feeding Space.-For the first 4 to 5 days the chicks may be
fed on paper plates or cut down chick boxes. After this allow
1 inch per chick for the first 2 weeks, 13/, inches up to the sixth
week and after 6 weeks allow 3 inches. Example: one 4' feeder
per 100 chicks for the first 2 weeks, 2 4' feeders per 100 chicks
up to the sixth week, 3 4' feeders from 6 weeks up.
Watering Space.-At the start of brooding the number of
water containers is of more importance than size. For the first
2 weeks provide 2 1-gallon water founts for each 100 chicks.
After 2 weeks gradually shift from 1-gallon waterers to troughs
with mechanical controls. From 3 weeks of age allow each 100
chicks 40 linear inches of watering space. This will necessitate
the use of 1 4-foot trough for each 200 chicks. Place the trough
so that the birds will never be more than 10 feet from a waterer.
Roosts.-If roosts are to be used later for hens, provide them
for the replacement pullets at 4 to 5 weeks of age, or at least 1
week before heat is removed. Allow 4 inches of roosting space
per pullet up to 8 weeks of age.
Lights.-Provide only sufficient lights to keep the birds from
crowding. A dim light when heat is removed can prevent
Note.-For management of the chicks during the brooding
period, see Circular 201.
BROODING ON WIRE FLOORS
Some brooding is carried on in the conventional brooder
house using wire floor. A removable wire platform made in
sections is placed 2 to 21/2 feet above the ground level in the
brooder house. Usually 3/4" mesh hardware cloth is used. For
the first week to 10 days the floor is covered with burlap or paper.
At the end of this period the bags or papers are removed and
the chicks are allowed on the wire. Equipment requirements for
wire floor brooding are the same as floor brooding except the
litter is eliminated.
Chicks started on wire floors should not be transferred to
the ground. They have built up very little immunity to such
things as coccidiosis and other common soil-borne infections.
Some poultrymen start their chicks in battery brooders
rather than on the floor or on wire. Essentials for success with
battery brooding are basically the same as where birds are
brooded on the floor: proper ventilation, ample floor space, water
space and feeder space.
Many makes and types of battery brooders are on the mar-
ket. A good battery brooder:
1. Has a dependable source of heat.
2. Is simple to operate.
3. Is well constructed.
4. Is easy to clean and disinfect.
FLOOR SPACE IN THE BATTERY
Lack of floor space in the battery will result in poor growth,
poor feathering and usually a high mortality.
A general rule as to space in the battery brooder is as follows:
1st and 2nd weeks 10 square inches per chick
3rd and 4th weeks 20 square inches per chick
5th and 6th weeks 40 square inches per chick
7th and 8th weeks 50 square inches per chick
9th and 10th weeks 58 square inches per chick
11th and over 12th weeks 80 square inches per chick
Feeding space and watering space in the battery brooder can
be regulated only by the number of chicks placed in each section.
If floor space per chick is allowed as recommended, there will
generally be ample feed and water space.
Generally, chicks are moved from the battery brooder to rear-
ing cages when they are 6 to 8 weeks of age.
HOUSING AND EQUIPMENT, 8 WEEKS TO MATURITY
After the brooding period of the first 6 to 8 weeks, pullets
to be used as replacement layers may be grown out in either of
the following manner:
1. On range.
2. In confinement on the floor.
3. In confinement on wire.
Whether to use the range or confinement method in growing
pullets will depend upon the amount of land available and the
desires of the poultryman. Good pullets can be grown by each
Range rearing offers the following advantages:
1. The pullets can be given adequate space.
2. Fresh air is available.
3. A well sodded range that affords good grazing will
4. The danger from cannibalism is reduced.
5. Due to less concentration, there should be less danger
6. The fly and manure problem is virtually eliminated.
Confinement rearing offers the following advantages:
1. Less land is needed for the poultry farm.
2. Labor cost is reduced.
3. Predatory animals are less of a problem.
4. Keeping of records is made easier.
5. Birds can be watched at all times.
6. Birds can be better protected from the elements.
Clean Land.-Clean land is an area that has not been used
for poultry for at least 2 years.
Amount of Space.-Where adequate green grazing crops are
available, allow 1 acre for each 300 to 500 pullets.
Shelter.-Provide 1 10 x 12' range shelter for each 100 to
Feeder Space.-Provide 4 to 5 inches of feeder space for bird,
or 20 feet of feeder space for each 100 pullets.
Water Space.-Provide 1 4-foot water trough for each 100
pullets. Place the waterer adjacent to the range shelter and
see that it is shaded from the sun.
Roost Space.-In shelters provide 6 to 7" for light birds,
7 to 8" for heavy birds.
THE RANGE SHELTER
Advantages of the range shelter are:
1. It is portable.
2. It is simple in construction.
3. It provides an inexpensive method of housing a large
number of pullets.
4. It provides good ventilation.
5. It provides shade during the day and shelter during
rainy periods and at night.
6. By closing the shelter at night, the birds are protected
against predatory animals.
If pullets grown on range are not to be housed in their per-
manent laying houses until they are in 10 to 15 percent produc-
tion, provide some type of nest on the range. Nests on the range
when the birds start into production will save a lot of floor eggs
when the birds are moved to the laying house.
CONFINEMENT REARING ON THE FLOOR
When confinement rearing on the floor is practiced in the
same house where the birds were brooded, floor space, litter,
water space, feeder space and roost space is very important.
The following amounts of floor space should be allowed per
7 12 weeks .............................................. .... 1 square foot
12 20 weeks ............................ ........ ........2 square feet
20 weeks .................... ....... ........... ....3 square feet
Additional litter should be added from time to time to build
it up to a depth of from 4 to 6 inches at about the time the birds
come into production. Keeping the litter dry aids in the control
of diseases and parasites.
The location of the feed trough and the amount of feeder
space per pullet are important considerations.
The following may be used as a guide for the amount of
feeder space needed for pullets of various ages:
6 12 weeks ...............................3 linear inches per chick
12 20 weeks ..............................4 linear inches per chick
20 weeks ...............................5 linear inches per chick
There should be sufficient feeder space that it will be pos-
sible for all pullets to eat at one time. Use the above guide.
Add additional feeders if the birds are crowded.
Water is the cheapest of all the nutrients needed by the grow-
ing pullet, and it should be supplied in ample amounts. The fol-
lowing should be used as a guide as to the amount of water space
needed for the developing pullet:
6 12 weeks ....................40 linear inches per 100 pullets
12 20 weeks ...................96 linear inches per 100 pullets
Extra drinking space is advisable in hot weather.
Many poultrymen today have eliminated the use of roosts
in the laying houses. However, in growing replacement pullets,
providing roosts at 6 to 8 weeks of age and teaching the pullets
to use these roosts may save many pullets from smothering.
Put in sufficient roosts to allow each pullet 6 to 7 inches of roost-
ing space at the time they are mature.
CONFINEMENT REARING ON WIRE
The brooder house with wire or slat floors used to brood
chicks for the first 6 to 8 weeks can be easily converted to a
growing house for the pullets by the removal of the brooder
stove and other brooding equipment. At the time the brooding
equipment is removed, add feeders, waters and roosting equip-
ment as recommended for growing pullets on litter.
Chicks that were brooded in battery brooders also may be
transferred to houses with wire or slat floors. Many chicks
brooded in battery brooders are transferred at 6 to 8 weeks of
age to rearing cages for their growing period. This is especially
desirable for pullets that are to go into laying cages.
Rearing cages in use today vary according to the desires of
the individual poultryman.
The floors of rearing cages are usually made from 1" welded
wire. Some cages have flat floors while others have sloped or
roll-out type floors. The roll-out type floor works very nicely
where pullets have to be held until production starts. The sides
and tops of the cages are made of wire similar to laying cages.
Rearing cages vary in size. The most popular size is 11/ to
2 feet wide and 4 to 5 feet long. These are arranged in rows
with feeding done from the aisles. In some cases they are placed
back to back with the water trough between the rows of cages
and with feed troughs in front. From 5 to 7 birds are placed in
each cage. A small number of pullets per cage (5 to 7) makes
it much easier to catch and handle the birds as they are being
vaccinated or moved to the laying cages.
When rearing cages are used, the pullets are usually trans-
ferred to these cages at 6 to 8 weeks of age. They are allowed
to remain in the cages until production starts or in some cases
even longer if there is not space to transfer them to the regular
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida.
Florida State University and United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperating
M. O. Watkins. Director