Brooding of chickens...natural vs artificial...

With Treva Turner



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Brooding refers to the period immediately after a chicken hatches, when special care and attention must be given to ensure their health and survival. There are two types of brooding; natural and artificial. Let's look at the difference...

Natural brooding is when a hen sets on eggs for up to 21days and then continues to hatch, rear and protect the chickens until they are old enough to fend for themselves. This type of brooding however, inhibits the ability of the hens to lay more eggs, which is why artificial brooding seems to be the most popular method of raising chickens today.

Artificial incubating/brooding is where newly hatched eggs are reared and kept warm using a heat lamp (most commonly containing infrared bulbs). But how do you find the right temperature for your new little feathered friends? You can gain a good indication as to whether they are too hot or cold, just by observing them in their environment. If they are huddled under the heat lamp, they are cold. If they are all as far away from the heat lamp as possible, they may be too hot. Other signs of heat stress include; panting (breathing with their beaks open), ruffling their feathers or spreading their wings in an effort to cool down. If the chickens are spread evenly around the pen, they are probably at a comfortable temperature. It is also important to keep chickens in a protected and enclosed area (preferably indoors), to keep them safe from predators and warm during windy or cold weather, especially in their first few weeks of life. 

Feeder space is also an important consideration when setting up your brooder environment and the area required for this is dependent on how many chickens you intend to raise. You will need enough space to spread some good quality chicken crumble and to have a fresh supply of drinking water. A general rule of thumb is that all chickens should be able to eat and drink at the same time.

For the most part, chickens are quite resilient, however for the best results we recomment buying your chickens from a reputable source, as most large hatcheries vaccinate their chickens. If you would like to hatch chickens yourself, sanitation is the best defence against disease. Keep your brooder clean and make sure the feeders and water containers are clean, and full of fresh water and crumble. 

Not sure which feed to buy for your chickens? See Barastoc's handy guide below...

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For more information, or to purchase a range of chicken related products including; heat lamps, chicken crumble or day old chickens, contact our friendly team via, call our Merchandise Team on (07) 4660 0400, or pop in and see us in store.