Encouraging natural synchronicity
The dark brooder provides a dark, sheltered place for chicks to rest, away from more active birds and the bright lights of the poultry house.
The dark brooder is designed to replicate the natural environment found under the mother hen's wing, where newly hatched chicks spend up to 65% of their time in the dark. All the chicks then rest, or forage together. This is known as synchronicity, and is a low-stress behaviour.
In the commercial setting, chicks in the hatchery miss the crucial 13-16 hour imprinting period where they learn how to behave and what to peck, and some chicks try to rest while others investigate their surroundings. This means that active chicks peck and disturb the resting chicks, resulting in a high-stress environment. The behaviour learnt in the hatchery is crucial, because 90% of chicks that peck each other at 4 weeks old will continue to peck into adulthood, resulting in a laying flock with plumage damage and potentially, poor performance results.
Dark brooding relaxes chicks, reduces stressful steroid levels, promotes growth and supports the development of a healthy immune system.