Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the questions and problems that many Farmers experience. Please submit any additional questions to if they are not answered here.

I have a pen that is 10 feet square - how many broilers should I be growing in it before they become too crowded?

The accepted guideline for space requirements of broilers is 1 square foot per bird. Your pen is 10' x 10' or 100 square feet, so you can safely raise 100 broilers.

Why do I need a 'heat bulb'?

One very important condition for baby chicks is warmth… they have little ability to control their own body temperature (like humans do when they shiver or sweat) during their early growth stages. During this time, special high intensity 'heat' bulbs are used to offer the chicks additional warmth. They will move towards, or away from, the heat bulb depending on their need for more or less heat. Regular household bulbs, including fluorescent bulbs, provide little to no useful heat energy for the chicks.

Can I use old feed bags on the floor to put feed for my baby chicks?

This is not ideal at all. Old feed bags may, to begin with, have fungal growth on the old leftover feed particles. Chicks will ingest this fungus and may become infected. Feed bags are also not very good at retaining feed - baby chicks habitually scratch at the feed and tend to scatter it outside the boundaries of the container it is placed in. Paper offers no resistance to scattering, while shallow pans or feeder trays have a lip that deflects scattered feed and retains it. Scattered feed is then picked up out of the litter by the chicks, often after it has been there for a while collecting more fungal growth… mold and fungal infections are common where feed scattering into the litter is a problem. Ideally feed should be presented to baby chicks in our plastic feeder trays, 1 tray for every 100 baby chicks being placed.

How often should I change the litter in the pen, and what litter is best?

There are two historically available litter (bedding) products available in Barbados - shredded or diced newspaper and wood shavings. Diced paper is no longer commercially produced, but anyone can shred old newspapers in limited quantities. Wood shavings can be sourced from furniture manufacturers, or purchased from Gale’s Agro Products in commercial quantities. A third type, 'bagasse' is a by-product of sugar cane after the juice has been ground out of it. Each type has its advantages and drawbacks; shredded paper can be reliably sourced, but has poor absorption properties compared to the other two. Wood shavings are much better, but are more costly as a commercial product unless you can source them as a furniture by-product for free. Shavings made from treated wood are not to be used, as the additional chemicals may kill the baby chicks. Bagasse used to be readily available at sugar factories around the island, however the decline in the sugar industry has shrunk the supply and forced farmers to find alternative litter. It should never be used 'fresh', i.e straight out of the factory as the left over sugar promotes the growth of Aspergillosis fungi which will further infect chicks. Bagasse should be cured by leaving it exposed to rain and weather for a few monthsto ensure it is washed clean of any residual sugar.

In terms of changing the litter, frequency depends totally on its condition. If placed too thinly initially, then there will be little chance that much more droppings can be absorbed after one batch. If laid at 2 or more inches thick, the litter can last for several batches once it remains dry. When using the litter for multiple batches, it is good practise to turn it over and disinfect against residual bacteria before introducing a new batch of day old chicks. VIRUKIL™ or BLACK EXTREME™ are two excellent disinfectants for this purpose.