As a poultry farmer, regulating temperature in your coop is one our most important tasks you’ll handle. Often, you will be dealing with young chicks that can easily die under cold weather. To prevent such deaths and the losses they bring, a brooder or heater will be your key tool. A brooder is an equipment for regulating the temperature in a poultry farm. Think of a brooder as an artificial hen or mother from which the chicks receive warmth during cold.
Depending on the weather condition around the location of your chicken coop, you may need to use a brooder during the first three to four weeks of your chicks’ age. Different types of brooders are available in the market. The decision on which type to use is entirely yours. Below, I describe 4 types of brooders you can choose from.
Charcoal Stove / Kerosene Stove
The use of charcoal or kerosene stove brooder is the simplest form of brooder. Charcoal stoves are highly affordable. In Kenya, a single jiko (charcoal stove) retails somewhere between KSH. 300 and 600. Of cause, some types of charcoal stoves will cost you above KSH. 1,000. However, you really don’t need such expensive stoves; most of them are unnecessarily big and will only waste your charcoal.
Also, if your chicken coop is located in an area with no or unreliable electricity supply, charcoal or kerosene stove is your best option. When using this brooder, you may need to cover the top with a pan or plate to sustain more heat around the brooding area. Using charcoal stove as a brooder for my chicks, I noticed that the covering can reduce the fuel consumption and subsequently lower your fuel expenses.
A gas brooder consists of methane or some other natural gas connected to a heater element and hinged above the birds at a height of 3-5 feet to provide them with heat. Also called a “canopy brooder,” a gas brooder is attached to a canopy type reflector –an umbrella-like equipment made from galvanized iron–to direct the heat from 3 bulbs towards the birds.
Infra-red bulbs brooder uses 150-250 Watts infra-red or filament bulbs to provide heat to the birds. They are highly efficient for brooding because of their ability to produce sufficient heat to the birds. These bulbs can transform up to 90% of the electricity into heat, making them ideal for use as temperature regulators in a chicken coop. However, this conversation rate has the effect of raising electricity bill. Depending on how many bulbs you have, your electricity consumption rate may be high.
Reflectors or Hovers
As the name suggests, hovers or reflectors are for reflecting both light and heat. They are usually flat and equipped with a pilot lamp and heating mechanism with a heating element. The advanced types have a thermometer so you can easily track temperature variations in your coop. Unlike infrared bulbs that you can hung on the roof, reflectors or hovers have stands mounted on the corners.
As part of your brooding system, you may need an equipment to keep your birds closer to the heat source. That’s where the brooder guard comes in. The guard is particularly important when dealing with day- to one-week-old chicks that are unaware of the water, feeds, or heat. Care must be taken in all aspects when dealing with chicks at this age. For instance, day-old chicks have the tendency to look for and huddle in dark corners. This means they can easily die of cold, starvation, or even thirst. That’s why you should always monitor their movements to ensure that all the necessary requirements are accessible to them.
Now, if you were wondering about what options you have for your brooder, it is my hope that this blog post is helpful. Please, remember to drop your comments or questions as I will be checking this post regularly to respond to your replies. Good luck!