Brooding Chicken in Poultry: Method, Equipment’s, Temperature

Do you want to know all about brooding chicken? It is a significant thing to know if you are raising baby chicks.

Brooding is the time right after a chick hatches when it needs extra care and warmth until it can control its own body temperature. This time is very important for your baby chicks to live and grow up well.

That is why every chicken raiser must know all about brooding chickens.

This definitive guide on brooding chickens will include:

  • The meaning of brooding chickens in poultry.
  • Its significance in poultry farming.
  • Natural vs. Artificial Brooding.
  • Space requirements for brooding.
  • Types of brooders with how-to-use guide.
  • Temperature for brooding chicks.

What is Brooding Chicken in Poultry?

What is Brooding Chicken?
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Brooding chickens is an essential stage in the life of baby chicks. All the baby chicks that are recently hatched require warmth, food, and water.

This brooding stage lasts until the baby chicks grow enough to keep their body temperature stable, generally taking 5 to 6 weeks.

Baby chicks rely on their mother hen for warmth and security during this time. Also, they learn how to forage for food and care for themselves from their mother hen.

Chicken brooding may appear frightening initially, but it gets easier if you understand how it works.

It all comes down to providing the chicks with the proper environment, food, and care. Making sure the chicks are warm enough is a vital part of brooding.

If the mother hen is unavailable, then artificial brooding is given to chickens in that condition.

Importance of Brooding Chicken

Brooding is necessary for chick survival and healthy growth. During this stage, they grow, develop their feathers, and learn to care for themselves.

Chicks risk cold, malnutrition, and predation if not appropriately brooded. Brooding also allows the chicks’ immune systems to develop properly.

Neglecting or mishandling the brooding process might result in a variety of issues. It might cause health problems in the baby chicks, such as reduced growth and susceptibility to infections.

It can also result in high mortality rates in chicks, especially in bad weather. Brooding has a significant impact on the overall success of your poultry-keeping business. As a result, understanding how to do it right is critical.

Brooding Chicks Inside vs. Outside: Pros and Cons

Here are the common advantages and disadvantages of brooding chicks outside and inside:

Brooding Chicks Inside

Pros of brooding chicks inside

Inside brooding has various advantages when it comes to developing chicks. One of the key advantages is increased environmental control.

Indoors, temperature and humidity can be more successfully controlled, keeping chicks warm and happy, which is critical for their early development.

This regulation is especially critical during the first few weeks of a chick’s life when they are most susceptible to temperature changes.

Furthermore, inside brooding offers better protection from predators. Chicks are protected against predators such as rodents, birds of prey, and even domestic pets.

This protection allows them to grow without constant stress and the threat of attack, enabling healthier growth and development.

Cons of brooding chicks inside

However, there are several disadvantages to indoor brooding. Space is a key restriction.

Indoor brooding environments might be small, resulting in congestion if you have many chicks. Overcrowding can cause stress, illness spread, and aggressive behavior in chicks.

Furthermore, when brooding chicks indoors, hygiene is critical. Because the risk of disease transmission is higher in a restricted space, constant cleaning and sanitation are required to keep the chicks healthy.

Also, being in an enclosed environment can limit chicks’ natural behavior. They may be unable to explore and peck at the ground as freely as they would in an outdoor setting.

Brooding Chicks Outside

Pros of brooding chicks outside

On the other hand, outside brooding offers its own benefits. Chicks have greater room to move around and engage in natural behaviors like scratching and dust bathing.

Natural sunshine can promote their growth and well-being by providing important vitamins and regulating their circadian cycles. Outdoor brooding also allows chicks to get used to outdoor conditions early on, making moving to an outdoor coop easier later.

Cons of brooding chicks outside

Nonetheless, outside brooding has its drawbacks. Temperature and humidity control might be more difficult, especially in areas prone to harsh weather.

Chicks may be subjected to temperature swings and inclement weather, which can be stressful and harmful to their health. Predator assaults are also a significant worry, as outdoor brooding makes chicks more vulnerable to predators ranging from hawks and raccoons to snakes and stray dogs.

Furthermore, being outside exposes chicks to external parasites such as mites and ticks, which can harm their health.

Broody Hens (The Natural Chicken Brooding)

a broody hen with her baby chicks
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People often say something is “God-given” to mean it is natural or has always been that way. Hatching baby chicks is a gift from nature.

Most hens will get broody after their eggs hatch, a normal part of being a mother. A broody hen takes care of her chicks by foraging with them and sometimes hiding them under her warm feathers to keep them warm and cozy.

When a broody hen cradles her chicks in her feathers, she gives them a safe, snug place and keeps them warm. During this time, the hen also teaches her young how to catch insects and peck for food, which are essential skills for life.

But it’s important to remember that not all hens go broody when they want to have babies. Some types of chicken, like the Ancona, Andalusian, Barred Rock, Croad Langshan, Barnevelder, Campine, Sebright, and others, don’t usually go broody.

If you want to hatch their eggs and raise chicks, you might need to buy an incubator to make the eggs hatch. Also, during the most critical part of brooding, when the young chicks need warmth and care, heaters for brooding chickens are necessary.

In conclusion, the fact that hens naturally want to care for their young is an exciting part of raising chickens.

But when it comes to breeds that don’t like to brood as much, tools like incubators and heaters are needed to hatch eggs and care for young chicks safely.

Complete Process of Brooding Chickens (Using Heaters)

1. Brooding House Setup Before Arriving of Baby Chicks

Before arriving at baby chicks, you must prepare your brooding house for chicks. The first step is choosing a good location for building a brooding coop.

a) Selecting Best Location for a Chicken Brooding House

The most important question when building a chicken brooding house is where to build it. You should keep the brooding house away from other chicken houses to keep your newly hatched chick safe from diseases.

A brooder house for chicks must be at least 100 to 200 meters from the main chicken farm. Baby chicks are susceptible to foreign infections, so they need to be kept in a safe, fresh, and well-sterilized room. 

It is better to build a closed room for baby chicks. Try to add some best exhaust fans in your chicken coop for ventilation.

Closed rooms help you to provide constant heat inside the brooding coop and keep external infections away from them. Always use separate rubber shoes and gloves for handling baby chicks.

b) Preparation of Chicken Brooding House Before the Arrival of Baby Chicks

Before the arrival of the chicks, the chicken’s brooding house needs to be prepared. Below are some quick tips to remember before the chicks arrive from the hatcheries:

  1. Ensure your chicken brooding house is ready one week before the chicks come.
  2. The brooder house needs to be cleaned before a week.
  3. If there are old batch chicks poops in that brooding coop, you should remove and clean the litter.
  4. Clean the floor and wall of the brooding house properly. Also, you should sterilize brooding equipment with a disinfection solution
  5. A high concentration of formaldehyde gas is needed for better sterilization. You can find formaldehyde in your nearest chemical or veterinary medicine shop. 
  6. During the use of formaldehyde, keep the room airtight for 24 to 48 hours, then allow the room to dry out completely. Also, turn on the ventilation fan to release the gas outside.
  7. Use 35 ml of Formalin and 17.5 grams of potassium permanganate to disinfect a 3-meter cube area inside the brooding coop.

2. Brooder Guard Setup Inside Brooding Coop

The brooder guard is a small temporary wall that keeps baby chicks in a small area. It helps farmers to provide them with heat in a specific place.

It helps in preventing the chilling and pilling of newly hatched chicks. Always ensure that your brooder guard is sturdy, properly sterilized, and built with good-quality plastic.

It keeps your chicks in a particular area to stay near the heat source. The height of a brooder guard must be between 16 and 18 inches, or else the chicks will jump out. It will also save them from the wind and cold.

Brooding is done inside the brooder guard. Until the chicks’ feathers grew enough, they were kept inside this brooder guard, and the heat was given using various equipment.

Use paper above the floor bedding for the first three days and spread chicken pre-starter feed above it. After three days, remove the paper from the floor bedding and use the deep litter system.

For a deep litter system, you can use paddy husk, wood shavings, ground maize cob, chopped straw, sawdust, and groundnut shell. Keep the height of the bedding to about 6 to 9 cm in the winter and 3 to 4 cm in the summer.

3. Receiving Baby Chicks

When the baby chicks reach your chicken farm, you need to read a few things:

  1. Turning on the heater or lamps before the baby chicks arrive at your chicken farm is a good idea. This makes the environment warm.
  2. Check the condition of the baby chicks to see whether they are healthy.
  3. After checking, keep them inside your brooder guard as soon as possible.
  4. Use at least one 12 kg capacity feeder and one 3 liter capacity drinker for every 100 chicks inside the brooding area or brooder guard.
  5. You can add a few electrolytes and probiotics if chicks are looking dehydrated

4. Types of Brooders for Brooding Chicks

Brooding chicks inside a brooder guard separated, with feeder and waterer
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Today, many types of chicken brooding equipment are available in the market. Some are traditional, and some are advanced tools.

  • Infrared bulb and reflector brooder.
  • Heating plate brooder.
  • Hover brooder or brooder boxes.
  • Forced air heater for brooding.
  • Traditional infrared gas brooder.

a) Infrared bulb and reflector brooder for chicks

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Infrared bulbs or light brooders with reflectors are used for brooding baby chicks. It uses an infrared bulb and a reflector to distribute heat uniformly.

This brooder warms chicks by providing a continuous and localized heat source. The mechanism of operation is simple.

The infrared bulb heats up when power goes through it. The reflector helps to focus the heat downward, providing a warm spot for the chicks. Raising or lowering the bulb height controls the temperature in this type of brooder.

The number of chicks and brooder size determine the capacity of an infrared bulb brooder with a reflector. A six-lamp brooder is ideal for 500 chicks.

However, you must always ensure that chicks remain comfortable and control the brooder to maintain the proper temperature.

Infrared bulb brooders are widespread; however, they have drawbacks. If not correctly monitored or installed, they can cause fires.

b) Heating plate brooder for chickens

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Baby chicks can be heated with a plate brooder instead of heat lamps. It simulates the mother hen’s warmth with a rectangular device with adjustable legs.

The chicks replicate their natural behavior with a hen by pressing their backs against the plate to maintain body temperature.

Heated plate brooders are safer and more energy-efficient than heat lamps. Heat plates warm solid items with safe radiant heat from the underside.

This allows the young to regulate their own body temperature by choosing when they need more heat and when they don’t. In comparison, heat lamps can cause fires and other safety problems and don’t spread heat evenly.

A heated plate brooder provides localized and steady warmth for chicks by producing radiant heat. You can adjust the plate’s height as the chicks develop to ensure they feel comfortable at various stages of growth.

The size and number of baby chicks determine a heated plate brooder’s capability. Choose a brooder plate with movable legs to support chick growth.

c) Hover brooder or brooder boxes

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A hover brooder, also known as a brooder box, is a form of brooder that provides warmth and a controlled environment for baby chicks.

It is a covered container with a heating element mounted to the top. Hover brooders replicate a mother hen’s warmth, making chicks feel safe and comfortable.

The working mechanism is simple but effective. Hover brooder heating elements produce a warm, contained atmosphere inside the box.

The chicks can cluster under its warm hovering like a mother bird. The chicks can cluster together in the hover brooder and feel safe, which adds to their sense of security.

Hover brooder capacity depends on size. Smaller brooder boxes hold 20-30 chicks, whereas larger ones hold 100+. Space is crucial for chicks to roam around and get food and water.

The hover brooder has many advantages over other brooders. They prevent heat light mishaps and fires by providing a controlled environment.

All chicks receive consistent warmth from their uniform and localized heat source. The enclosed chamber keeps heat in hover brooders, making them more energy-efficient.

Hover brooders require regular temperature monitoring and adjustments. The first week, newborn chicks should be around 95-100°F (35-38°C).

Lower the temperature by a few degrees per week until the chicks are fully feathered and can regulate their body temperature.

Hover brooders are reliable and effective at warming and protecting newborn chicks. They mirror the natural habitat and help chicks develop stress-free and healthily.

d) Forced air heater for brooding

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A forced air brooder uses a heating element and fan to circulate warm air evenly across the brooding room and chicken coop. This brooding method has advantages over heat lamps.

First, forced air heaters distribute heat more evenly, reducing hot or cold areas in the brooding area. This gives chicks a safe and comfortable environment, boosting healthy growth and lowering stress.

Second, forced air heaters use less energy than heat lamps. The fan distributes warm air throughout the brooding area and chicken coop. This improves heat retention and reduces heat loss, saving energy.

A forced air heater generates heat with an electric coil. The fan circulates the heating element’s warm air throughout the brooding area or coop to maintain a steady temperature.

The size and features of a forced air heater determine its brooding capacity. These warmers usually hold many newborn chicks.

The heater’s model and design determine its capacity, which can be several dozen to several hundred chicks. It is available in working with electricity, propane, and kerosene.

e) Traditional infrared gas brooder

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The infrared gas brooder is a variety of artificially brooding equipment for brooding chicks. Chicks are warm and controlled in this specially built environment.

This brooder uses infrared heat from a natural gas or methane heating element. The brooder is usually kept 3–5 feet above the chicken coop or pen floor.

Heat distribution is efficient and effective with an infrared gas brooder. The brooder’s infrared heat promotes healthy growth and reduces temperature differences between regions.

The heating element attached to the gas supply generates heat. The chicks and environment are warmed by infrared rays from this heat. Adjusting the brooder temperature keeps chicks comfortable and healthy.

For example, the Chicken Gas Brooder comes in versions capable of warming 1000 or 2000 chicks in a coop. It can warm and regulate many baby chicks at once.

5. Maintaining the Correct Temperature Inside the Brooding Space

For the first 24 hours, keep the temperature at 95 °F (35 °C) at the edge of the brooder above 2-3 inches. 

Turn the brooder’s temperature down by 5 °F (2.8 °C) every week until it reaches 70 °F. The constant flow of heat is most important. Improper temperature controls cause weak growth and mortality in chicks.

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Keep monitoring your baby chicks, and how they are feeling. They will stay away from the heater if they get enough heat. 

If heat is not enough, they will come closer. In this type of situation, you need to add an extra heater.

6. Releasing Chickens After Brooding

It is a common question when to stop brooding chicken. Well, the answer is easy.

The different chicken breed needs different periods of brooding. Fast-growing chickens need less brooding as compared to slow-growing.

After a few days, you will see your chicks start jumping out from the brooder guard. Their feathers were now grown, and they could fly with small jumps.

You can move them to a bigger coop or remove the brooder guard.


Brooding chickens in a proper method is most important. This has a vital role in chicken growth and productivity.

Naturally, a broody hen sits on her eggs and hatches them. Subsequently, she takes care of the chicks and teaches them to forage, catch bugs, and survive external predators.

But when it comes to commercial chicken farming, there is no hen. Farmers buy chicks from the hatcheries. So, they must provide artificial brooding to grow the baby chicks into adult chickens.

We have explained brooding chicks, the correct method, equipment, and temperature controls. I hope this guide helped you to understand all about brooding chickens.

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