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House Temperature and Relative Humidity

Observing the chicks will tell you whether or not the temperature is correct. If they are too cool, they will huddle near the heat source. If they are too warm, they will spread out away from the heat source. If there are drafts, they will huddle in groups to get away from the spot where the cool air enters the heated area. Comfortable chicks will spread out uniformly, without huddling, throughout the brooding area.

Look for signs of overheating (panting and drowsiness) or chilling (huddling and loud chirping) and make appropriate adjustments. Heat control is more critical in cage brooding because the chicks cannot move to find their comfort zone.

Birds are very sensitive to extremes of relative humidity. A relative humidity below 30% will cause increased agitation of the chicks and may cause aggressive behavior. Conversely, excessive moisture may cause wet litter conditions, associated with high ammonia concentrations, poor air quality, enteric diseases, and respiratory problems. Ideally, the relative humidity should be between 40 and 60%. Humidity control becomes increasingly important when warm-room brooding in cold climates. To increase the relative humidity, water can be sprayed on the walk ways or floors. Humidity will normally be lowered to 30 to 40% by the end of the growing period.

See also the Ventilation section.

Recommended brooding temperatures for commercial layers1

1Modify the temperatures as needed to meet the chicks' comfort needs.

Recommended brooding temperatures for breeders1,2

1Reduce temperatures by 2-3°C (4-5 °F) per week to 21°C (70°F).
2Modify the temperatures as needed to meet the chicks' comfort needs.
3The temperature should be 1-2°C (2-4°F) higher for W-36 parent-stock males due to their smaller body weight.

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