New Flock Brooder – 7 day status update

The babies are 1 week old just double checking statistics:

  1. Day old
    • Target weight: 35g to 40g
    • Average weight (sample of 100 birds): 38g
  2. 7 days
    • Target weight: 64g to 67g
    • Average weight (sample of 100 birds): 66g
  3. Target date of first egg: December 11, 2018

We are within the breeder’s recommended weight range, so is a good start.

The temperatures are generally warm during the day so no pots for additional heat till 8pm when it starts getting cooler.

The first Newcastle booster dose was also given today via a drop in the eye, we stick to the vaccination schedules like clockwork.

Brooder - view 1

Brooder – view 1

Brooder - view 2

Brooder – view 2

Brooder Week 5 – Learnings and Look Ahead

The chicks are now 5 weeks in the brooder, with a mortality rate of 0.4%, weights less than the management guide (which are based on environmentally controlled conditions) but within range and closing fast, weight uniformity distribution of over 70% and improving.

This post is about lessons learnt in this flock and what we have done differently:

  1. Hired brooding services from a poultry focused service provider who provided a worker for the brooder and a vet who visited regularly: 3x per week in the first two weeks, 2x a week later, currently at 1x per week
  2. The vet provided also supervised and carried out vaccinations as per the recommended schedule
  3. Focused on building immunity in the first 3 weeks, now growth and development of the pullets
  4. Weighed the birds to provide benchmarks for the growth, but only used the data for tracking so did not adjust diets to bring up the weights
  5. Adjusted the chick and duck mash formula, to provide the necessary energy levels and texture for easy feeding.
  6. Provided recommended levels of feeders and drinkers to reduce bullying and contention for deed
  7. Bio-security improvement: started leveraging powdered construction lime for initial disinfection and at entrance to the brooder, disinfectant spraying every week on the premises and proactively spraying inside the brooder with a high mist disinfectant (selected not to have any major side effects for the birds)
  8. Collecting data on feed and water consumption on a day-to-day to better understand the changing patterns – increase in feed consumption is at 4g per bird per week

As always a selection of shots from brooder:

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Day Old Chicks – Flock 4 Now In Brooder

We are excited to be starting a new chapter at the farm, where we have a new batch of chicks that have come in today, Isa Brown, with the learnings from the last 2.5 years of business.

The changes that we have put in place:

  1. Increased bio-security with a dry lime bath on entry into the brooder
  2. Testing a new “sigiri” in addition to the pots
  3. Using newspapers as a bio-layer over the coffee husks, that will disintegrate and mix with the litter
  4. Contracting with an experienced poultry brooding services company to provide a dedicated person to raise the birds from day-old to about 6 weeks, depending on the progress and learnings that we have had.

Photos below

Brooder - Day old chicks

Brooder – Day old chicks – View 1

Brooder - Day old chicks

Brooder – Day old chicks – View 2

Brooder - Day old chicks

Brooder – Day old chicks – View 3

Brooder Expansion

We are still chugging along, 3 weeks since the chicks came in, with 900+ birds in a space of 12’ x 15 ‘. The birds seem to have outgrown the place as they fight for food despite having about 20 different feeding points and 11 drinkers … 

Based from advice from our expert farmers we have made the jump and are now going to separate the chicks into two rooms to buy some time as we wait to complete their main lodging and accommodation.  

This is what the new place looks like 

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Vaccination – Preparations and Setup

Yes, we had a tough first week, but we lived through it although the losses were up to 10% of what we received, this is pretty high, but being inexperienced we can put it to the costs of learning on the job.

The vaccination schedule is every week for the next 12 weeks, with Newcastle and Gumoboro being alternated, I will post our vaccination schedule once I get round to typing it up. 

Here I explain how we setup for vaccination for those who like me are learning on the job. Pre-vaccination checklist:

  1. No vitamins or other medication in the water for the day before
  2. No water provided to the chicks for 2 hours before the vaccination, apparently to assist in ingestion especially the ocular ones which are administered one drop in each eye

First we created two separate areas within the brooder using plywood 

Brooder with separator for chicks vaccinated and those that are not

The vaccination operation was manned by 3 people – two vaccinating and one picking up the chicks and passing them to the other two. The reason for this is efficiency (due to split roles), but also to ensure that the operation is done quickly so that the vaccine remains chilled.

vaccination in progress

And once the vaccination is done the plywood is removed and the chicks are back to using the whole room as their playground. Also there is countinous monitoring for any changes in the behavior and feeding habits 

brooder after vaccination - chicks roaming around freely

Want to learn more about vaccination procedures from experts you can go to http://www.poultryhub.org/health/health-management/vaccination/

Day-old Chicks Arrive – Jan 3, 2013

The big day is finally here, so at 6:30am we set off to pickup the day old chicks from the supplies shop. After making all the payments we verify that there are 1,020 chicks including a 2% bonus for the purchase. 

Into the back of the car they go and off we are to the site and the brooder, here is what it looks like 

Day-old chicks in brooder

You may notice that they are eating out of the boxes, and that is because we have given them Oasis nutrition for day old chicks (the green pellets) which we placed on top of chick mash (finely ground feed due to their gentle disposition) which they feed on for the first 2 days. In the water we added 10g of Glucovit (a combination of glucose and vitamins) to give them additional strength

A wide view of the brooder 

Brooder Preparation – Jan 2, 2013

After the shopping was done the last step was to prepare the brooder which was a room 12” x 15” with a metal door plus a single window for ventilation. We would have gone for an additional window but we opted to keep the door and single window open for ventilation. 

Brooder preparationThe first step was to lay-out the bricks on which the pots (where we put charcoal for heating up the room are placed), after which we poured coffee husks on the floor and placed a brown sheet of paper on top. The brown paper is to ensure that the chicks do not eat the coffee husks in their early days which may lead to choking and digestion complications since their systems are not well developed. 

The temperature for the brooder has to be kept very warm (yes we kept sweating whenever we entered) since layers unlike broilers are very sensitive to cooler temperatures.

There is a separate set of sandals at the door so that anyone entering the brooder does not bring in contaminants, obviously this is a critical issue so we will be working on it continously.

Since the room was freshly built we left the pots running overnight to keep it warm and snug for the chicks coming in the next day.

Below is a photo of the brooder with all sheeting laid out and ready to go 

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Seasons Greetings and Updates

Well at this time Christmas has come and gone, and so my seasons greetings are belated. 

Yes the day draws closer, January 3, 2013 when the official journey begins with the arrival of 1000 day old chicks at the site. So what are my plans over the next few days:

On Dec 27, 2012 we completed shopping for accessories which included:

  • Clay pots with holes near the top to hold the charcoal to keep the brooder warm 
  • Feeding troughs – after a lot of deliberation we decided on a few small troughs and more larger troughs which will last longer
  • Drinkers – again like the troughs we went for smaller containers (5 liters capacity) plus larger ones to ensure that the frequency of refills is much less
  • Medication – vitamin supplements, antibiotics (especially for flu, diarrhea, and fast moving infections) which will be mixed in the water as and when is needed
  • Brown paper for the first week to ensure warmth
  • Clear plastic sheeting for the windows and doors to keep the heat in
  • Jerrycans and basins for collecting water and cleaning the drinkers – which will happen 3-4 times a day 
  • Paraffin Lanterns – since we have not had the chance to connect electric power to the site, but this will come later 

So we are all set and January 2, we are spending the day preparing the site, finalizing construction, warming the brooder (since its a new site, its wet and cold)

Well we wish you a Happy New Year, and please come back to read more of our journey