Question: What are brooders and incubators, and how does one use them?
Brooders are used on a farm and incubators are used in a hatchery.
- There are many types, but their basic function is to provide heat for newly-hatched chicks.
- The simplest ones use wood or charcoal burners to heat up the area where the chicks are to be placed.
- In more modern systems, gas, coal or electricity are used.
- Gas burners can be used as spot heaters, or to heat the whole area if chicks are housed in a large room.
- Electricity is often used in infra-red lights suspended over the chicks or to heat up the entire room.
- Coal burners are also used to heat water, which in turn heats up the air that circulates over the chicks.
- Electric brooders function much like a hen, as chicks can move in and out of the heat, as they wish.
Also read: Raising broiler chickens without electricity
- In a hatchery, the eggs are placed on trays in an incubator where they’ll stay for about 18 days.
- The eggs are turned every 45 minutes and the temperature and humidity are carefully controlled.
- The eggs are then transferred to special baskets and placed in a hatcher where the temperature and humidity are also controlled.
- The chicks hatch 21 days after the eggs were placed in the incubator.
Also read: Ensure that your chicks get the best start
- This article was written by Dr. Mick Versfeld and first appeared in Farming SA.