When it comes to raising poultry the key element is a good brooder and how you maintain it. Cleaning it thoroughly after each batch of chicks is very important!
Here at Valley Farms Hatchery we have metal brooder houses that measure 8ft by 32ft. They are bedded with fine pine shavings and have red heat lamps hanging from the ceiling in multiple spots to help maintain a stable temperature. Metal 30lb feeders hang from the ceiling, as well as automatic nipple waterers. Each end of the brooder house has a curtain that can be raised or lowered to maintain ventilation by using the tunnel method.
We start our chicks on an 18% protein and medicated (for cocci) starter/grower feed. We never medicate the water with vitamins and/or electrolytes. The house temperate is around 90-95 degrees at the start and is eventually lowered to use no supplemental heat. We watch our chicks to know when they are hot or cold. Cold chicks will huddle by the nearest heat source and hot chicks will gather thinly spread against the walls and breath heavy. You know your temperature is correct when the chicks are spread evenly throughout your brooder, some at the feeder, some at the waterer, and some just running around being silly.
After the chicks have been in the brooder houses for about two months (varies based on season), they are transitioned to a grower/layer feed and moved to their grow-out houses. There they will become future breeders and produce our hatching eggs for the next year.
Everyone has their own brooders and methods that work for them. Our way works for us, but may not work for you. That is the main reason we do not send instructions on how to care for the chicks. The best way for a new chicken parent to learn is to read blogs online and visit their local farm store for supplies. Your local farm store will always have good advice and all of the supplies you need to start your successful backyard flock!
To our Community Members, feel free to share your brooders and advice in the comments on how you raise your chicks! There are sure to be people reading this post looking for advice!