A good start of the flock is essential for a good quality rearing. Proper organisation of the activities before and during placement will help the birds in achieving a good start.


It is very important that there is a good communication between hatchery, transportation and poultry unit to ensure that the arrival time, the number of chickens arriving and the separation of lines and sexes are known and anticipated on. Especially factors as number of chicks from young breeder flocks and to be expected transport stress are important to include in the communication.


Calculate the floor space and the number of drinkers and feeders that will be required. Make sure that all equipment is in good working order before the birds are placed. Pre-heat the house long enough to get the floor at the desired temperature level of 29-30oC. Prepare a stocking plan and a working plan, to ensure that everybody involved knows what to do.


At the start, do not exceed a density of 30-35 chickens per available m2. Allow the chicks to spread over the house as quickly as possible, but preferably before 7 days of age.


Good clean wood shavings are preferred as litter material. Litter should always be free of moulds, pesticides, additives etc. Put enough litter in to create a bedding layer of 8 to 12 cm. This will require an amount of 3.5 to 5 kg/m2 if wood shavings are used. When chopped straw is used, an amount of 2 to 3.5 kg/m2 should be sufficient. Disinfect the house after the litter is brought in.


The ventilation during the first days is dependent on the system of heating, as we need to remove the carbon dioxide from the heaters if open heaters are used. When open heaters are used, allow a minimum ventilation rate of 1,5 m3 per kg bird (20-25 birds) per hour in the first days. If closed heaters are used (radiators or warm air systems that do not bring carbon dioxide from the heaters in the air and use oxygen from the air for the heaters, the amount of ventilation can be much less, about 0,35 m3 per kg of bird mass per hour. The amount of carbon dioxide should never exceed 2500 ppm. As birds are very senstive for heat loss, prevent draft at all circumstances.


As birds loose the majority of their body heat through the floor, a cold floor can easily chill them, even when the air temperature is adequate. The floor temperature (concrete floor) has to be at least 28oC but preferably 29-30oC when the chicks arrive. THe air temperture should be set at 33-34oC, 1or 2 degrees higher when the chicks are originating from parent stock younger then 35 weeks. To check the conditions during the brooding phase, check the so-called deep-body temperature (cloaca temperature) of individual chicks regularly. This temperature should be approximately 40oC (104oF).

Feed and water

Ensure that birds can find and access water and feed easily. Birds dont actively go looking for feed and water, but they have to "stumble into it". Place enough extra easily accesible drinkers and feeder to allow this. Position the drinkers on a solid horizontal support, so flooding will not occur. Refresh the feed sufficiently, but dont overfeed, as the feed will become old and of poor quality. Flush the waterlines prior to arrival, to supply the chicks with relatively cool water.

Key points

- Personnel dealing with the chicks should be fully conversant with how to apply the hygiene rules, e.g. wearing clean boots and clothes, as well as knowing the location for chicks of both sexes.

- Ambient temperature at chick level should be 33-34oC or if necessary 1 or 2oC higher. Floor temperature must be at least 28oC, preferably 30oC.

- Litter must be distributed evenly and warmed to house temperature.

- Light intensity should be minimum 20 lux.

- Drinkers must be filled with clean, fresh water. The chicks should have easy access to them. 

- Ventilation should be mainly recirculating, with minimum ventilation of 1,5 m3 per 20-25 birds per hour when open fire heaters are used.