When the chicks first hatch and are put into the barns, it is very important that we teach them how to behave. The first things they need to learn are to spread out and settle down while finding heat, water, and food as soon as possible. In order to get them to do what we are looking for, there are a few things we can do to help them out.
The three main components that chicks are attracted to are light, sound, and heat. Each barn is kept at about 94º and ventilation is kept to a minimum to prevent cool drafts. Under each, a light is hung to illuminate the area, and above each brooder we place speakers to play the radio. The birds are then attracted to the light and sound. The feed lines and water nipples lines run around and throughout the room so the birds have to run into food and water as they move about. Sometimes we utilize brooder guard paper to block areas off. With all these parts in place and working together the chicks should ring out around the brooders, finding their comfort temperature and staying spread out.
But what if it’s not working?
If the birds aren’t ringing properly around the brooder or staying where they should, there are a few things that can be done. The room lights can be dimmed to make the brooder lights more obvious and the speakers can be turned up to make the brooder areas noisier.
If the birds are piling or huddling it’s probably too cold. To fix this, you can turn the heat up and chase them away from that area in hopes that they find another warm area. A cold spot may exist or the birds may have made the pile spot warmer by their own occupation of the area, in which case you should also rake the bedding around to disperse the cold or heat. If this is occurring in a corner and the birds won’t stop, simply put up some guard paper to prevent them from occupying that spot.
If the birds are grouping around only one or two brooders, turning off the brooder and it’s accompanying light and sound will make the birds disperse to other brooder fixtures. If the birds are piled away from the brooders, they are too hot and need to be turned down – but be cautious that they aren’t turned down too much and get too cold in the barn.
As the birds grow up they are easier to control, generally staying spread out, as they don’t pile unless chilled or spooked. Preventing inflow of cold air is key to keeping the birds happy and compliant to your specifications.