• Collecting the eggs

• Provide a safe, dry, dark place for the hens to lay.
• Collect eggs daily, write the date on the egg in pencil and store with the broad end facing upwards: this helps to ensure the embryo develops properly.

  • Hatching

• Use only eggs that were laid in the last 14 days.
• Hatch eggs using the mother hen, another broody hen, a (surrogate) duck or an incubator.
• For hens and ducks, make sure the number of eggs chosen for hatching corresponds to the bird’s body size – all eggs must fit under the bird (ducks can hold up to 35 eggs and turkeys up to 50).
• For synchronized hatching (all chicks hatch at the same time), delay the first hen that becomes broody by giving it just one egg to sit on while you wait for other hens to lay their clutches and become broody.
• For successive hatching (the hen or the surrogate duck sits on eggs for two consecutive clutches), chicks are removed when they hatch and replaced with new eggs.
• After hatching, dispose of egg shells, clean the nest and transfer chicks to a brooder.
• Turn the eggs regularly, especially when using an incubator.

  • Brooding

• Brood chicks using a mother hen, foster hen, a lantern, kerosene brooder, charcoal stove or charcoal placed in a metal container.
• If a foster hen is used, condition it for a day by giving it new chicks.
• Take care that chicks cannot get burned – cover charcoal stove or container, ensuring that there is no risk of fire.

  • Heat Sources

• Charcoal Mbaura – one half drum is enough for 500 chicks
• Kerosene lamps - one lamp for 50 chicks
• Electricity - one infra red lamp for 250 chicks

  • Brooder Preparation

Use hard boards to make a brooding ring of 60 cm height
Put at least 5 cm of clean dried grass/leaves (litter) on the floor inside the brooding ring
Start with a density of 50 chicks per metre square
A hover/cover should be provided about the brooder, to reduce heat wastage
Make space for feed and water feeding equipment inside the brooder ring

  • Rearing chicks

• Provide clean water at all times in shallow, clean troughs.
• Provide soft feeds like flour from cereals or tubers.
• Allow chicks to roam freely when they reach 3 or 4 weeks of age.
• Vaccinate chicks against Newcastle disease at 4 days of age.

  • Scavenging

In a free-range or semi-intensive poultry rearing system, adult hens and cocks ought to be given enough time and space for scavenging in the surroundings daily. The best time for scavenging is early morning and late afternoon when there are plenty of insects and less heat. Chicks below six weeks of age should be confined. Supplementary feeds should be offered in the morning and evening when the birds come back for the night. Ad libitum clean water should be provided in shady areas during the day to avoid heat stress.

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