Baby Poultry Care - Brooding

Pre-Brooding Shopping List

  • Tote, Box, or Brooder

  • Litter (White Pine shavings)

  • Heat Lamp or Brooder Plate 

  • Waterer

  • Marbles/Glass Stones

  • Feeder

  • Chick Starter Feed - (AK Mill & Feed)

  • Paper Towels - Plain White Only

      Polaris Hatchery will replace any chicks/poults that die within 48 hours of delivery only if you follow these instructions. Here are some recommendations for getting your baby poultry off to a successful start:

      1. Sanitize and rinse the brooding area and all items that you put into it. Be especially careful not to contaminate your brooding area with items used by other birds including your shoes or clothing.
      2. Setup the brooding area 24 hours prior to receiving the chicks and allow it to come up to temperature. Make sure that you have adequate space, feeders, waterers for the number of chicks you are brooding.
      3. Provide a warm, draft-free environment. Start at 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
      4. Please be aware that chicks sense temperature through their feet. You can have a 95 degree air temperature, but if the brooder is on a cement floor the bottom will be cold regardless of your litter. It is a good idea to add insulation under your brooder like cardboard or styrofoam.
      5. Provide room temperature water with one tablespoon of sugar per gallon. Electrolytes and probiotics may be a good idea as well. DO NOT use Vinegar. Use sanitized, rinsed, unpainted, marbles in the water troughs to prevent drowning. Remove the marbles after 48 hours.
      6. Use a circular brooder or create rounded corners inside your brooder to prevent "corner piling".
      7. Cover the litter (wood shavings) with paper towels. Scatter loose feed on the paper towels to train the chicks to recognize feed vs litter. Remove the paper towels after 24 hours.
      8. As you introduce the chicks to the brooder, dip the beaks of about 25% of the chicks into the water to stimulate drinking. The other 75% will copy their behavior.
      9. Adjust the level of your heat source as needed by what you observe from the behavior of the chicks.
              • If they huddle together under the light, they are too cold.
              • If they crowd away from the lights or heat source, they are too hot.
              • If they stretch out on their side and look like they are dying, they are just fine. They are absorbing heat and resting.

              Proven ways to kill your chicks:

              • Wood shavings from your yard, sawmill etc. Many chicks die from toxic plant poisoning due to tainted shavings. Use only packaged pure white pine shavings.
              • Toxic fumes - These can come from many sources. Pressure treated wood, paint, gasoline, carbon monoxide, etc.
              • News papers, magazines, colored/printed paper towels- all have chemicals that can be toxic. Keep them out of the environment. Use only pure white paper towels.
              • Drowning - Use marbles in the waterer.
              • Brooder on cold floor - This will cause chick piling even if your thermometer reads 95. Insulate your brooder from the floor.
              • Drafts
              • Tainted/spoiled/stale/unsuitable feed. Use only Alaska Mill & Feed regular Chick Starter or Broiler Grower Crumbles (NOT organic or non-GMO) for the first 4 weeks and then transition to other feeds SLOWLY.
              • Mixing Age Classes- Chicks should only be with others that are within 14 days of each other. (Cornish Cross no more than four days). 
              Call us if you have any questions. We are here to help you enjoy your chicks and succeed on your poultry adventure.