Preparing pullet houses to receive chicks
Many steps and tasks are involved in making a
house acceptable for new pullets.
John Brown DVM, MAM
In the days leading up to chick deliv- ery, managers must prepare to receive the consignment. This requires planning and attention to detail.
Preparation for receiving the next
;ock should begin the moment the previous ;ock of pullets is moved to the layer
house. Loose pullets that may have escaped the moving crew must be caught
and humanely disposed of. Sanitation is
the primary consideration in the preparation of a house to receive the next ;ock of
chicks. Dust and cobwebs must be blown
down from rafters, ceiling, equipment
and the walls.
All organic material, including dead
birds, manure and remaining feed in the
feed lines, hoppers and feed bins must be
removed and disposed of in a remote location and not dumped near the entrance
to the house. Any equipment that can be
removed from the house should be removed, sanitized, and stored in a clean
storage area during the cleanout period.
The house must be washed down with
hot water and detergent using a high pres-
gain access, since they serve as reservoirs
of numerous infections which can impact
;ocks. After a thorough wash- down,
the clean house should be disinfected
using a low-pressure sprayer or a fog-ger to dispense a quaternary ammonium
compound in accordance with the manufacturer’s statutory label instructions. If
required, an approved insecticide can be
dispersed before placement of clean litter
in ;oor systems. Special provisions are
required for organic ;oor ;ocks to conform to the requirements of the National
The area surrounding the pullet house
must be cleaned. Trash and remaining
litter must be removed to prevent retracking of pathogens into the house. All
vegetation growing close to the house
must be clipped to ground level and grass
must be mowed. The concrete aprons and
perimeter areas surrounding the building
should be disinfected.
Rodent bait in approved receptacles
should be placed outside the house and in
work areas and storage stations inside the
pullet house. Ideally preparations should
be completed a few days prior to the arrival of the chicks. Down time is very
bene;cial in allowing bacteria and viruses
that were not killed by the cleaning and
disinfection procedure to loose virulence.
All cleaned equipment should be repaired as necessary, reassembled, reinstalled and tested. Electrical and watering installations must be tested.
Approximately 24 hours before the
scheduled arrival of the chicks, house
temperature should be raised to the recommended level. The air in the house will
be at the desired temperature long before
the cages or ;oor will attain an acceptable
To read advice on how to
properly manage pullets & hens visit
level, thus requiring a prolonged period
of heating prior to placement of the ;ock.
Rolls of chick paper must be placed on
the ;oor of cages especially in the vicinity of nipples and a small amount of feed
should be sprinkled on the paper before
the chicks arrive. The feed troughs must
be completely full to attract the chicks to
the feeder system. The complete watering system including all nipples must be
checked to con;rm normal function with
an acceptable rate of delivery.
High intensity ( 3-5 foot candles) of
lighting is very important to help the
young chick to locate feed and water.
During the ;rst two days 22 hours of
light is recommended. If starting chicks
in cages on two levels, ensure that house
lighting illuminates the nipples on both
levels. Lighting control clocks should be
set to the recommended program.
Starting chicks in a clean, warm, bright
environment will allow the ;ock to attain
a strong start. EI
Pullet houses must be detail cleaned after
old chicks go and before new consignments arrive.
16 • Industry Egg • October 2009 • www.WATTAgNet.com
sure sprayer to thoroughly remove any
remnants of organic matter. Water lines
should be ;ushed and then charged with
a strong sanitizing agent and allowed to
remain in piping for at least 24 hours before re-;ushing with potable water. All
necessary repairs to the building must be
completed, paying close attention to areas where rodents or free-;ying birds may
Dr. John Brown earned his DVM from
Auburn University in 1982 and an MAM
from the University of Georgia in 1984.
He has been involved in the egg production industry since this time as a ;eld
technical service veterinarian af;liated
with DeKalb and Centurion advising on
aspects of disease prevention and management of pullet and laying ;ocks.