Brooding Systems

There are two basic types of brooding systems: localised heat and whole space.

Localised heat

Several brooders of this type exist, including infra-red lamps, gas heaters, or electrical bar heaters.

Infra-red brooders

The infra-red lamp brooder is simple. Installation costs are low and it requires a minimal attention. The infra-red lamps are suspended 450 to 600 mm above the litter. Two 100 watt bulbs are sufficient to brood small numbers. It is wise to use at least two lamps in case one fails. It is also advisable to provide each globe with a reflector to transfer the light and heat down to the baby chicks. However this type of system may not provide enough heat for young chicks in colder areas.

This type of brooding unit is usually surrounded with a solid partition at least 300-450 mm high to eliminate draughts. A number of feeding and watering points are included within this surround. A removable lid to the brooder pen can in certain circumstances be also useful; by sliding the lid over the pen, extra heat can be retained during cold weather. However, it is extremely important that fresh air circulates around the birds to prevent diseases such as aspergillosis.

Gas brooders and electrical infra-red bar heaters

These provide radiant heat to the immediate area under the heating elements. They vary in size and heating potential. They are used in a similar fashion to infra-red globes. Existing poultry brooders, both gas and electric have not only proved to be satisfactory for brooding, but are superior to infra-red and porcelain globes.

Whole space

In whole-space brooding, the whole brooding shed is enclosed, insulated and heated to a uniform temperature. The heat source may be gas, electricity, oil or kerosene, and the heating units are portable or fixed to the brooding shed. Heat must be evenly distributed throughout the whole area. This brooding system is only practical and economical when large numbers of similarly aged chicks have to be reared (batch rearing). Under this system the atmosphere within the shed needs to be assessed on a regular basis and if the air becomes stuffy or levels of ammonia can be detected, then the shed should be flushed with fresh air.