Preparing the house for chicks arrival is important to ensure health and growth of the chicks. Two weeks prior to arrival, the house should be cleaned and disinfected and a rodent-control program should be implemented. Old feed should be removed from feed bins and feed troughs. Five days prior to chick arrival, the house should be fumigated. Fumigation will help avoid the introduction of diseases, including mycoplasmosis, lymphoid leukosis (LL), Marek's disease, infectious bursal disease (IBD; Gumboro disease), and salmonellosis.
Start heating the house and start the brooders 2 days prior to chick arrival to ensure that the house and equipment is warmed thoroughly. The 2 days of heating is often necessary because the equipment and litter will warm at a slower rate than the air (where temperature is measured). The water lines should be cleaned and disinfected at this time. Paper should be placed inside the cages adjacent to the feed trough or, in a floor system, on the floor under the feeders.
On the day before the chicks arrive, ensure that the house or brooders are at the correct temperature and that, ideally, the relative humidity is between 40 and 60%. Fill the feeders to their highest level with fresh starter feed and adjust the feeder guards so the chicks can reach the feed. Adjust the drinkers to the appropriate height (the top of drinking cups should be level with the chicks' back, whereas nipple drinkers should be level with the chicks' head) and make sure they work properly. Flush the water system to remove residual disinfectant and ensure a supply of fresh, clean water. Check the light-control timers and make sure the lights are turned on for the appropriate length of time and the correct light intensity (30 lux; see the Lighting Program section). To encourage water consumption, water-soluble vitamins and electrolytes can be added to the drinking water for the first 2 to 3 days after arrival.
House Preparation Check List
- Prior to delivery of chicks
- Clean and disinfect cages or floor brooding area and equipment, the building interior and attached service areas and equipment.
- Check to make sure equipment is working properly and is adjusted to the right height.
- Remove all old feed from bins, hoppers, and troughs. Disinfect and allow to dry before new feed is delivered.
- Place rodenticide where it will not be consumed by the chicks.
- One day before delivery
- Set heating system at correct temperatures (see recommended brooding temperatures).
- Check water system and adjust to proper height for chicks.
- Disinfect and flush water lines.
- On delivery day
- Have waterers full or water system in operation.
- Check brooder temperatures.
- As chicks are placed, trigger water cups or nipples to encourage drinking.
- When nipple drinkers are used, reduce the water pressure so birds can see the drop of water hanging on the drinker.
- Feed should be placed on paper in cage.
- Operate feeders at highest feed level.
- Keep light at high intensity 20 to 22 hours per day for the first week (see lighting programs).