From the Field: Full House Brooding – Something to Consider

by Clint Lauderdale
Southern Regional Manager

At a recent meeting with broiler managers from all over the US, one company leader asked how many complexes had growers using full house brooding. A few raised their hands. His follow up question of “where do these growers generally rank” gained the unanimous response of “the TOP!”

In the past, partial house brooding was used as a method of saving fuel. But with today’s lower fuel prices and modern, tight and well-insulated houses there’s not much of an advantage to partial house brooding. In fact, there may be more advantages to full house brooding.

Advantages of Full House Brooding

Advantage 1. Extra feed and watering space for bird
Advantage 2. Ability to divide the birds equally and put out migration pens on the day of chick deliver
Advantage 3. Spreads the moisture load from the birds out over the entire house resulting in less caking

It is more important than ever to get birds started out right. With today’s growth rates, birds live a higher percentage of their life in the brooding period. In the late 1960s, it took over 60 days to achieve 4 ½ pounds; Now that can be done in 33 days. This means the modern broiler spends almost twice as much of their life in the brooding period.

While cooler climates may be prohibitive to full house brooding, it could still be done in those areas in the summer and practically year-round in the southern states.

Regardless, when starting out baby chicks don’t make mistakes on the big 5 essentials:

1. Temperature. This includes both air temperature and litter temperature. I see lots of mistakes with the litter temp being too low, keeping the birds huddled in the feeders.

2. Fresh air. Keep ammonia below 25ppm. Follow the PLT guidelines.

3. Clean water and availability. Clean waterlines with PWT. Also, use PWT to keep water acidified between a pH of 3.5-4.

4. Feed availability. Make sure chicks have feed available in the pans along with supplemental feed.

5. Sufficient lighting. Lighting keeps birds active and helps obtains proper 7 day weight gain.