The best gamefowl breeders see through the whole process with great attention to detail. Once you have made sure that you’ve chosen the best brood fowls, given them their needed nutrition, and ensured that they’re safe from any sickness, you can be more confident that your fowls are likely to produce quality eggs. And once these eggs have hatched, you can now groom these cockerels with proper care. Here’s what you need to know about caring for young roosters.
Brooding is the period from the hatching of the eggs until chicks no longer need the supplemental heat. For most gamefowl breeders, the time that chicks need to be kept inside “brooders” that have heat lamps is between three to eight weeks. This is a critical stage for your chicks as it is at this time that they are still developing their bodies and cannot handle most outdoor environments because chicks do not acclimatize the same way adult chickens do. This is also the time that they are most vulnerable to diseases. Hence, this is when you give sickly and difficult-to-raise cockerels their needed extensive care. Most breeders today opt to use artificial brooding to increase productivity. Under brooding, there are six factors to consider:
- Light and Temperature
Experienced breeders mostly use heat lamps or light bulbs hung over the brooder, wherein temperature can be adjusted depending on the need of your cockerels. General rule: 1 watt per one chick and should start from 32 to 25 degrees Celsius on the first day, reducing by 5 degrees each week. If all your chicks cluster under the lamp, it means the temperature is too cool. If your chicks are clustered around the edge of the brooder, it means the brooder is too warm. Remember, your chicks at this stage are not yet good at self-preservation so providing the needed light and temperature is a good way to search for their temperature comfort zone.
- Humidity and Ventilation
Humidity and ventilation should go hand in hand in cockerel management. While high ventilation lowers the humidity by blowing away the water vapor in the air, low ventilation causes high humidity which creates a sloppy environment. It is important to balance each other out to prevent the spread of diseases in your brooders.
When it comes to bedding, breeders commonly use wood or pine shavings, as they absorb some particles in the environment, and help reduce smell and dust quotients. Clean bedding also reduces the spread of diseases, just as long as you change your beddings often. Never use sawdust as they are too small and your chicks may mistake them as their food.
- Food and Nutrition
Chicks should be given nutritionally-balanced medicated or non-medicated starter feeds dispensed on accessible feeders. On the first few days, chicks are commonly fed on paper sprinkled with food and are placed down under the heat lamps. After this period, you can now provide suspended pan/trough or bell feeders, which will prevent your chicks from leaving droppings on their food.
On the first day, experienced breeders would already assign a particular water system that will be utilized throughout the life of the rooster. Hence, if your chick started drinking from a bell drinker, it should have a bell drinker as its waterer during its rooster days.
However, it is not advisable to use an open dish filled with water in a brooder as chicks can fall on it and drown. Keep your chicks hydrated. Never remove the waterer at night or for more than 15 minutes. Keep the water clean by changing it twice a day and clearing the waterer with a diluted bleach solution to prevent contamination.
- The Brooder Itself
Of course, a space where you will raise your chicks should be ready. You can have an indoor or box-type brooder or an outdoor or bard-type brooder depending on the scale of your operations. Whatever brooder you may use, just make sure that the pen or setup adheres to the previously listed pointers.
After the brooding period comes ranging. At 6 to 7 weeks old, your cockerels are now ready to be ranged. This is the period wherein the young roosters are released in a natural environment and are exposed to various climates to give them space to move around and develop their bodies and instincts.
Once your cockerels have matured at 5 months, it is time for them to be harvested and be trained as cockfighters.
Cockerel management is one of the most crucial parts of gamefowl breeding. If you have poor cockerel management, your gamefowl may have difficulty growing to be top cockfighters. So start well and be prepared. It’s your key to making your breeding business prosper.
For more information about caring for your chicks, visit www.unahco.com.
- Your Complete Guide to Brooding Chicks, Hobby Farms: https://www.hobbyfarms.com/your-complete-guide-to-brooding-chicks/#:~:text=What%20Is%20Brooding%3F,between%20three%20to%20eight%20weeks.
- Red Farm’s Gamefowl Chick and Egg Management, Agribusiness How It Works (2014): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yrFsll8_4w&list=PLTVfx9cgoo6qY6VxvW9IbqgaFCpTAOken&index=197
- Gamefowl Farm Brooding and Ranging, Agribusiness How It Works (2014): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sDArAtglPo&list=RDCMUCrLmtJ2KE6lNDXCfQSIqzHw&index=4
- Caring For Your Chicks Needs Tips and Information, David’s Game Fowl and more: https://davidsgamefowl.weebly.com/caring-for-your-chicks.html