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Getting Started With Poultry

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Basic Brooding Tips

Prepared by Bill Karcher


Before the chicks arrive:

After the chicks arrive:

Put down a 1 inch layer of pine shavings


Dip the chicks’ beaks in water

Put brooder guard in place


Check temperature 3 or 4 times daily

  • after week one, lower the temperature 5 degrees per week until you reach the outside temperature


Fill jugs with water, mix in molasses

(1 teaspoon per gallon)


Fill jugs with fresh water daily

  • Molasses water can be used as long as necessary
  • Wash waters weekly
  • Increase water area as the birds demand more water and space


Fill feeders with starter crumbles


Add fresh feed daily, by the end of week one, move to a tube feeder


Offer free choice starter grit after the first week


Turn on heat source

(If using heat lamps, use red bulbs)

  • Regulate heat to 95 degrees at chick height at the edge of the heat source
  • Start heat at least 24 hours prior to chicks arrival


When the heat source is removed, be sure to offer a light source for 24 hour lighting to stimulate growth and increase rate of gain.

Be sure brooding area is draft free


Increase brooder area as the chicks grow and fill the existing space, usually beginning at about 10 days, you will need to expand the brooding area

Be sure brooding area is rodent free


Always keep your bedding dry

  • Rule of Thumb: add 1 inch of

 shavings for each week of age in market birds, allow the litter to build up, only remove hard or wet bedding


You can use a 10-gallon fish aquarium with a heating pad underneath so the babies can be kept at 98 degrees F at all times (until they have feathers).  You'll need some type of cover for the aquarium to keep the warmth constant, but also allows adequate air ventilation.  Attach some type of fish thermometer to he aquarium so you can monitor the temperature inside where the babies will be.  In the bottom of the aquarium, use a Rubbermaid drawer liner cut to size to prevent splay leg and lightly sprinkle PINE shavings (not cedar shavings or other) over the Rubbermaid drawer liner to help keep the babies dry from their droppings (this will need to be changed daily).  You can use any type of container that is able to keep warmth inside and is easy to clean and disinfect.


Click the links HEN HOUSE of the MONTH   CHICKEN TRACTOR GALLERY for some ideas on housing for your chickens.


Differences between the sexes

A young chicken is called a chick.

A male chicken is a cock or a cockerel, depending on its age.

Similarly, a female chicken is called a pullet or a hen.

The age at which a pullet becomes a hen and a cockerel becomes a cock depends on what type of chicken is being raised.

Purebred poultry producers have very age-specific definitions.

A chicken is a cockerel or pullet if it is less than one year of age.

After one year of age, the chicken is referred to as a hen or cock.

In the commercial chicken industry a female chicken is called a hen after it begins egg production (around five months of age).

A sexually mature male chicken (again, around five months of age) is referred to as a rooster.




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