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Broiler chickens are chickens raised specifically for meat. Generally a hybrid of breeds designed to grow rapidly, broiler chickens are widespread within factory farms around the world.

Broiler chickens are among the world’s most farmed animals, but their suffering is mostly hidden from public view. Broiler hens have brief and often miserable lives in factory farms. Farmers use a technique known as selective breeding to produce hens with the form and size desired by corporations and the general public—but these features come at a cost to the birds.

Raising Day Old Broilers

Housing

Start day old broilers inside in a deep container (at least 30 inches deep) with one square foot of floor area per bird (plastic Sterlite containers work well, but if the container is square, round the corners in some way to prevent chick piling and death). The chicks will need one square foot of floor space for about a month, after which the space should double.

Spread an absorbent litter that is not small enough to be mistaken for food on the floor of the box. If newspaper is used as bedding, it should be coated with a thin layer of sterile sand to prevent leg splaying.

Replace soiled wet bedding/litter as needed to keep chicks clean and dry.

Brooding

Chicks do not have the ability to regulate their body temperature until they are 14 days old. This means that during their first two weeks of life, they are particularly sensitive to temperature changes and are quickly overheated or chilled. Maintain a temperature of 90 to 95 degrees F at chick level. Don’t make a guess! Make use of a thermometer. It is best to utilize an infrared bulb that is securely suspended from above and may be lowered or raised as needed to manage the ambient air temperature. In addition, incandescent lights can be used. REMEMBER that these heat sources, when mixed with dry bedding, can cause a fire, so take the necessary steps to keep your family and pets safe. Drop the temperature 5 degrees per week until you reach 70 degrees at which time birds should be fledged so the lights should no longer be needed at night.

Watering and feeding

Water is the most critical nutrient to provide to young chicks. Chicks consume the remaining egg yolk in their egg just before hatching. This nutrient-dense diet will keep them going for about three days. As a result, having water in the brooder for when the chicks arrive is more vital than having food accessible. Dip the beak of each chick into the water when it enters the brooder so it can get a short drink and hopefully learn where the water source is. Placing colored glass marbles in the trough can entice chicks to peck at the water and eventually learn to drink from it.

Monitor the birds carefully at first and when you believe all have learned to drink, then you can put the food in the brooder (no later than the end of the 2nd day). These steps can prevent chicks from getting pasting by preventing the birds from filling up on feed and not drinking the water like they should. Without water in their system, they cannot correctly digest their food, which leads to pasting. Incorrect brooder temperatures is also another factor that can lead to pasting.

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