HOW TO REDUCE CHICK MORTALITY IN THE BROODER


Every farmer desires 100% survival of chicks once he or she has bought and put them in a brooding house. Losses will, however, almost always occur especially during the first two weeks of life.

A mortality of 1-3 per cent may be considered normal, but anything above 3 per cent is abnormal and requires immediate intervention to stop further losses. Indeed some of the causes can actually wipe out the entire flock. The number of mortality will depend on the source of the chicks and how the farmer prepared the Brooder before introduction of chicks.
Some of the common causes of mortality in brooding chicks include:

GENETIC FACTORS

There are many lethal gene mutations in birds, most of which cause death during the incubation period. A few, such as congenital loco and congenital tremors will cause death of chicks within a week of hatching.
To prevent this, farmers are advised to purchase day old chicks from reputable farms who select against such genes. From experience, I have experienced few mortalities from Olam and GS chicks, compared to other sources of chicks.

 MANAGEMENT FACTORS

The most common errors that famers commit include:
A) High brooding temperatures
These result into two major problems, namely, 
Dehydration
The body of young chicks comprises of about 70 per cent water. If temperatures remain continuously high, it results in loss of water from the body leading to dehydration.

A water loss of about 10 per cent will cause death due to circulatory failure.
Pasting This is when high temperature in the brooder house causes pasting or sticking of faeces around the vent leading to blockage and ultimately death of chicks. Chicks like taking cold water but if the temperature is high in the Brooder, then even the water will be hot. So chicks will neglect taking the water leading to death.
Low brooding temperature cause chilling and pneumonia which kills chicks in high numbers. Dead chicks on post mortem show pale to blue lungs in colour.
Low brooding temperature makes the chicks to huddle together to keep warm and maintain body temperature. This further leads to smothering and death. The chicks tend to collect around the heat sources where they die from.
To prevent the effects of temperatures, A farmer should use our new chacool brooder,
A farmer should also try to maintain the normal recommended temperature throughout the brooding period and evenly in the brooding areas. You can use the chicks behaviour to tell if the temperature is right or not.

Feed related factors include

Feed poisoning such as fungal (mould) contamination or feed contaminated by toxic substances especially tannin found in saw dust and excess salt in water and feeders well as toxic gases (Ammonia, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide).
This should be avoided through use of proper feeding and use of clean water, as well as proper litter management, If possible, you can avoid saw dust in the Brooder, and use either wood shavings or brooding carpet.
Adequate ventilation in the house is also very important, and farmers should avoid using smoking charcoal in the Brooder. First check the charcoal if it's not smoking before you put the heat source inside the house. A farmer is supposed to leave an exit of bad gases out of the Brooder and an entry of fresh air..... Sealing off the Brooder completely may end to suffocation and death. 

DISEASES

Newly hatched chicks do not have a high immunity level. If hygiene is therefore, not maintained, a number of diseases responsible for early chick mortality will thrive.
Among the most prevalent of these diseases are:-

Omphalitis

Also referred to as ‘mushy chick disease’ or ‘navel ill’, this is an infection of the navel characterised by inflamed skin in the navel area, soft, flabby and distended abdomen, pasting of the vent and foul smell on the carcass on opening due to unabsorbed yolk. Affected chicks appear depressed with drooping heads.
This is a bacterial disease and can spread very fast becoming responsible for high losses in the flock of chicks. To avoid this, a farmer should maintain good hygiene of the Brooder, and proper disinfection before introduction of chicks. 

Pullorum

This is an acute infectious and fatal bacterial disease of chicks characterised by ruffled feathers, white diarrhea, laboured breathing, chirping and death. It is also common to find dead chicks without showing any signs of disease.

Salmonellosis

This is a condition referring to a group of acute rapidly spreading diseases affecting all ages. It is characterised by rise in body temperature, septicemia (presence of infectious oroganisms in blood), omphalitis, hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), enlargement of spleen and death.
When it affects young chicks, it can be responsible for a very high death rate in the brooder room.

Colibacillosis

This is a serious and acute bacterial disease affecting the blood system and can affect all ages of chicken with high prevalence and mortalities in newly hatched chicks.
Strict bio- security, or hygiene is the one major method of preventing the above diseases. The houses, water and feed equipment and the entire surrounding of the brooder room must be kept clean and free from all contamination. Proper disinfection of you poultry house with strong disinfectants like V-ox helps to get rid of these disease causing micro organisms.
A measure to control such diseases from your flock should also included maintaining good temperature using our chacool brooder.

Other factors to be considered are:

• Floor, water and feeder space must be adequate to avoid overcrowding, starvation and dampness of the litter which facilitates multiplication of pathogenic micro-organisms and further deaths.

Pendulous crop/ crop impaction.
This results from birds eating the litter. At one day old, birds cannot differentiate feed from litter. So you need to cover litter with Brooder paper so that the birds can get used to feed. After which, you will remove the brooder paper after 5-7days. Failure to remove the brooder paper may lead to coccidiosis.

  • Proper handling of chicks during vaccination and other procedures to avoid injuries which predispose chicks to contamination and subsequent infections. When the workers were entering the brooder with shoes, they used to step on the chicks until we stopped shoes from the brooder then this mess also stopped.
When workers entered with buckets of feed and water, they could place the buckets on the chicks and they died...
Talk about the stress after vaccinations. Don't neglect this, because it can cause problems to your flock. Always handle the vaccination stress with the help of good multivitamin like vitaflash.

•Maintaining proper humidity to avoid dampness in the brooder room. Dampness facilitates accumulation of toxic gases and growth of infectious micro-organisms.
• Construction of brooder houses should also be proper to keep away predators such as rats, dogs and cats.
• Proper ventilation is necessary to regulate temperature and remove carbon dioxide, ammonia, other gases, moisture, dust and odour. Fresh air should be introduced uniformly, mixed well with house air, and circulated properly throughout the brooder house.
• Light is an important factor during brooding because chick activity is greater in bright light intensity than in low light intensity. During brooding the light should be at the brightest intensity to encourage chick activity assisting them to locate feed and water. The entire brooder should be well lit with bright light all around the brooder. This will give uniformity in growth.
. Sharp corners should be avoided in the brooder room

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