Do you KNOW that the most critical period in broiler production is the first 7days? These are the foundational days. It should be noted that any error made during these days will have negative impact on the birds throughout their rearing period. This is the period when you give best attention and care to your chicks.  It’s the most sensitive period due to the tender nature of the chicks. Let learn the critical factors that make the first seven days special in broiler production.

Critical factors on the first seven days of broilers day old chicks are the basic foundational conditions necessary and needed for the optimal growth and development of broilers. They are foundational factors of production that are very central to the overall development of broilers. It should be noted that once you mess up on the first seventh days, the problem will continue with that batch throughout their rearing period. This is a based on personal past experiences! Critical factors in the first seven days are:

Temperature provides suitable or adverse environmental condition (depending on how it’s being managed) for day old chicks. Chicks are provided with suitable temperature because they are yet to develop needed feathers to cope with the adverse weather condition. This implies that without suitable temperature, day old chicks cannot really live. Poor temperature will have negative effects on the general welfare of day old chicks.

Temperature is a very critical factor to the success of your chicks. Quality balanced feed will not have optimum effects on chicks, without suitable temperature.


Poor feeds and water intake
Farmers can be ignorantly buying unnecessary drug(s) and multivitamins over poor appetite of chicks not knowing that the hidden problem is poor temperature.

Poor temperature will affect feeding negatively. When your chicks refused to eat despite good lightning, it’s a sign of high or low temperature .They run from feeds and water. I once visited a farm in Nigeria where I still found coal pot (source of heat) at the 3rd week of rearing! That is not good for birds of this age.
Maintain a good/suitable temperature as follow for your day old chicks:

1st day: 38 oC

2nd day: 36-37 oC

3rd day: 36 oC

4th day: 34- 36 o C

5th day: 32 oC

6th day 31 oC

7th day: 28-30 oC

Likewise low temperature makes birds to avoid feed and water.

Recommended 7th days temperature

Age (1-3 days) =36-38oC

Age (4-7) = 30-35oC

Poor weight gain

Due to poor feed and water intake arising from high or low temperature, the feed intake is negatively affected which hinders the birds from gaining weight. It’s very essential your chicks gain 150g-180g average weight at the seventh days old. Poor temperature can hinder this irrespective of the quality feed. Once you did not attain good average weight on the seventh day, the batch will be affected in term of weight gain. Your dream of attaining 2kg average weight at week 6 may be affected. Farmers commit most error of poor weight gain on the first seven days. They seem to do everything possible to correct this in the subsequent week, but found it difficult. As a commercial broiler farmer pay good attention to temperature.

Dehydration & mortality  

Dry feet can be traced to high temperature. Paralysis can also be traced to high temperature. When your birds open their mouths panting, raising the feathers as if to fly, it’s sign of high temperature. Sudden death of chicks can also be traced to high temperature.


When you hear unusual noises and sound it a sign of high/low temperature. When you see your birds stretch their neck on the ground panting, it’s a sign of high temperature. 

Leaning on end corners wall of brooding room

When your chicks run to the end corners of the brooding room, as if to be hiding it’s a sign of high temperature. They move far away from the source of heat.

Clustering in group

When your chicks cluster together resting on each other is a sign of low temperature.
When your chicks gathered round your source of heat (coal pot, stove…) as if to jump into it is a sign of poor temperature.


Pneumonia is traceable to poor temperature.


Watch out for these 3 behaviors of chicks in the brooding house:

Chicks by themselves can tell you the temperature condition of the brooding room

  1. If the chicks move far away from the source of heat, run away from feeds, gasping, restless, leaning on the brooding walls, making high sound, the temperature is too high.
  2. If the chicks cluster together in groups especially around the source of heat, sleeping on each other with dull eyes/low appetite and poor activities the temperature is low.
  3. If the chicks are evenly distributed on the floor space, flapping the feathers, very active (eating, drinking and chasing each other) the temperature is okay.

Sources of heat
What you need is heat not fume or smoke
Good Sources of heat include:

Brooder- electrical
Coal pot
Due to challenges in many part of the world, the main source of heat is coal pot and stove
For coal pot use good charcoal that is well prepared, set up the pot outside the brooding house, allow the coal to set and observe it to eliminate smoke, identify the charcoal emitting smoke and remove it.
Using coal pot required regular check-up, don’t just set it up and go to bed,
because it has no automatic control.

Stove is also okay if you can set up the blue flame – that’s what you need. Yellow fume will affect your chicks.


Lightening acts as stimulant to chicks. Lightening makes and keeps the birds active to eat and drink water regularly. Lightning during the first seven days of arrival of chicks must be regular (24/7) especially at night. Brooding room should be well lighted. Never keep your chicks in the dark especially in the first seven days of arrival.

 One of the litmus test of quality lively breeds is their response to lightening. To do this, intentionally off the light at night for about 1 hour; then on it back, watch their response to the return of light. Healthy good breed will be active at the return of light.

Don’t suspend your bulb(s) directly on the feed tray, else they find it as a resting place and not eating point especially under low temperature. This will also make them to soil the feeder thereby bringing early infection. When your bulbs are directly suspended on the feeders, chicks will make feeding tray a resting point.

 Quality feed, feeding and water

These are very centre to the growth of chicks. Serve balanced feed and clean water ad-libitum (continuous feeding) (24/7)

Never ration feed and water at during this period. Broiler chicks will start with broiler starter or pre starter mash of 22-24% crude protein and the energy level above 3000 ME. We shall deal with the issue of feeds formulation in detail later.  Do you know the estimated weekly number of bags of feed needed by your chicks? Feeding should be adlibtum (continuous)


Broiler feed is fed from day old to 4 weeks of age. (0-4 week) This feed should contain:
22 – 24% Crude Protein.
Energy Level:3000 ME (Kcal/kg) and above
Low Fiber Level.
Calcium 0.6 – 0.8%.
Phosphorus: 0.4 – 0.6%.
Vitamin Premix: 0.25 – 0.35%.

Fortify your feed with vitamin and other essential amino acids.
The Energy content of broiler feeds can be boosted with oil if necessary.
However, any feed to be boosted with oil should be such that will be used within short period to prevent rancidity and in no wise should you exceed 5%.

Use quality and adequate feeders and drinkers. Chicks should not struggle for feeders and drinkers. Use of tray feeders should not exceed seven days of chick’s arrival. Avoid using the feeding tray beyond 7 days. This will reduce the possibility of infection among chicks because they poop directly into the feeding tray. Therefore as from the seventh days old, change to the use of cyclone galvanized/plastic feeders to prevent infections among your chicks.

Do you know the estimated number of drinkers and feeders for your birds at starter and finisher?

25 day old chicks = 2 feeders, 1 drinker

50 day old chicks = 4 feeders, 2 drinkers

100 day old chicks = 6 feeders, 4 drinkers

Use the above as guide to calculate for higher number of feeders/drinkers during the entire brooding days (1-14 days)


Inflow of fresh air into the brooding house is very important.  Lack of this could cause suffocation of chicks. This is done through proper ventilation. Create heat emission point in the brooding house which will emit hot and fresh air. Many farmers totally enclose their brooding pen; this could be one of the reasons for mortality during brooding days.


Housing should be well designed to promote growth, address local prevailing weather and ward off predators. It should be built against prevailing wind and rain direction. It foundation should be higher above the ground level to prevent entry of run-off water. Brooding house is not a completely enclosed building. Give room for proper ventilation and create opening for heat emission and intake of fresh air. Failure to do this can cause suffocation of birds. Avoid over stocking of chicks. Avoid overcrowding. These are capable of causing stampede which can result to mortality.

Floor spacing has great influence on weight gain by the chicks. Allowing excess floor space has negative impact on early weight gain by the chicks because body fat is burnt off through uncontrollable movement. Demarcate the floor excess space of your chicks and increase it as need arises. Do you know the weekly estimated floor space of your chicks?

1000 broiler chicks will need about 250 (ft2) at week one (10 x 25ft)

1000 broilers chicks will need about 500 (ft2) at week two (20 x 25ft)

A broiler will require about 0.25 (ft2) at week one

A broiler will require about 0.50 (ft2) at week two

A broiler will require about 0.75 (ft2) at week three

A broiler will require about 1.00 (ft2) at week four

Appropriate floor space will promote weight gain in broilers and prevent disease outbreak. You must remove all objects of distraction from the brooding house. Object like thread can suffocate your chicks. Objects of distraction are objects that will make chicks not to concentrate on feeding and drinking. Foreign objects like woods, sweet wrappers … must be removed because chicks pick such up and they begin to chase it other thereby loosing body fats and energy needed for weight gain. Chicks must be made to concentrate on feeding and drinking during the first seven days.


Antibiotics and anti stress are the common drugs. However, it should be noted that your farm biosecurity is more essential than any drug. Be warned that high dosage of antibiotic drugs especially at early stage will cause stunted growth for your birds. Multivitamins are very essential for chicks.

You will be ready for your first oral vaccination on the seventh day. We shall deal with vaccination thoroughly later in this book.


Litter materials are what we used as beddings for the chicks. They serve as absolvent of any liquid like water, feaces… they also guild against the issue of pneumonia by preventing chicks’ feet from having direct access to the cold floor. Avoid water spillage on litters as much as possible. Avoid use of leather or nylon materials – they are bad absolvent, slippery and can suffocate your chicks. 

An old newspaper is a very good litter material for day old chicks. Any material with same qualities is okay. This will required regular cleaning and changing. However, use of newspaper as bedding material should not exceed seven days. Use of saw dust, wood shaven should be avoided in the first seven days because they raise dust and hinder free movement of chicks.

The seven days are the foundational days in broiler production. Therefore maintain

  •  Suitable temperature
  • Balanced feeds
  • Good natural water
  • Proper lightening
  • Appropriate floor spacing
  • Use of essential drugs and multivitamins
  • Proper vaccination
  • Suitable litter materials
  • High biosecurity

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