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Hatchery management

In principle, setters and hatchers can function well in a hatchery with open construction, when air pressure in all the rooms is equal to the air pressure outside. In practice, however, the majority of modern hatcheries are “closed” and equipped with air handling systems to control temperature and relative humidity within optimal ranges, as recommended by the incubator manufacturer. The aim, of course, is to create uniform incubation conditions with minimal energy costs.

The hatchery’s main goal is to produce the maximum percentage of good quality day-old-chicks from all the hatching eggs received.

In multi stage incubation, heat is transferred from old eggs to the younger eggs, which demands less additional heating and cooling capacity by the incubator. This may seem like a good way to save energy, but in fact, the incubator is having to run full fan speeds 24/7 365 days a year, to deliver a constant airflow even when machines are not fully loaded.

Having made the decision to build a hatchery, finding the right location is a critical first step. Not every piece of land is suitable as a hatchery site - and finding a good location that is fit for the purpose deserves some time and proper investigation, in order to give the hatchery a good start.

Having chosen a green field site for the new hatchery, it is important first to consider the lay-out of the facility carefully, followed by producing an engineering plan of drains, piping, ducting and cabling.

When building a new hatchery, we have the freedom to plan exactly what we need, where we need it, right down to laying the groundwork for future expansion. Modernizing or expanding an existing hatchery poses more of a challenge.

The hygiene status of the environment into which chicks are hatched has a direct impact on day-old-chick quality and first week mortality.

The quality and construction of hatchery flooring can contribute significantly to operational productivity and cost-efficiency.

In most hatcheries, the routine monitoring of incubation is based on data collected at each stage in the process. This is an important element of specific protocols for quality control and the optimization of hatchery results. For each step in the incubation process, quantifiable criteria have been defined. The hatchability of eggs set is one such quantifiable criterion, defined as the number of saleable chicks hatched from the total number of eggs from a certain batch/flock loaded in one or more incubators.

Disinfecting hatching eggs is a critical control point (CCP) in the poultry production chain, aimed at reducing the introduction of pathogens into the hatchery for the production of healthy day-old-chicks.

Modern hatcheries are capital intensive, production orientated businesses that depend on minimal downtime to realise optimised profitability. A well-organized preventive maintenance program is therefore a critical focus for these businesses which, by anticipating and preparing for potential machinery or equipment failures, are far more efficient, smooth-running and ultimately better placed to realise maximum returns on investment.

The hatchery is generally regarded as a safe place to work, reporting very few incidents  when compared with other industries. In practice, that does not mean that working in the hatchery is entirely without risk. A proper regard for Health and Safety in the hatchery requires great care in managing factors such as dust, noise, climate and the use of chemicals, for example.

Sustainability is an important feature of contemporary building design, often reflected in building regulations – and very achievable, given the many, varied material, design, energy and equipment solutions that are currently available.

A common rationale for investing in hatchery automation has traditionally been to reduce labour costs or to overcome the challenge of recruiting for monotonous, relatively strenuous work and long working days.

While optimising climate inside the ­incubator best supports the needs of growing embryos, accurate climate control elsewhere in the hatchery also makes an important contribution to overall efficiency.

Hatching egg quality and incubation conditions influence broiler performance. It is therefore important to continually optimize every stage of incubation management, based on specific protocols for quality control and best performance.

Management in a multi-stage hatchery is based on a daily routine of setting eggs according to a strict setting schedule per setter type. The common principle for establishing a setting schedule in a multi-stage incubator is based on the need to transfer metabolic heat from more ­developed embryos to the less developed, heat-demanding embryos in the early stage of embryonic development.

Because of its central position in the poultry production chain, the commercial hatchery has the power both to stop the spread of pathogens, for example from a Salmonella infected breeder flock, or to intensify a disease challenge, by spreading pathogens to customers or other supplying breeder farms.

Cleaning and disinfection are fundamental to effective hygiene in the hatchery. Cleaning can remove up to 85 per cent of micro-organisms, preventing their development by removing their food sources, or ‘dirt’. Any remaining micro-organisms can then be eradicated by disinfection.

Aspergillosis is a fungal infection of the respiratory tract in young birds, also commonly known as ‘brooder pneumonia’. In infected birds, the air sacs and lungs show white to yellow spots or lesions. Infected birds gasp for air and have ­accelerated breathing. Aspergillosis can also result in severe eye (and even brain) infection, which can appear as a yellow cheesy pellet beneath the eyelid. Increased mortality rates of 5 to 50 % may occur within 21 days after the placement of diseased birds.

Rodents (rats and mice) are documented carriers of Salmonella spp. and therefore present a serious concern for public health. A review of Meerburg et al. (2007) showed infection rates in rodent populations ranging from 0 - 77 per cent.

Pas Reform
Pas Reform
P.O. Box 2
7038 ZG Zeddam
The Netherlands
Phone +31 314 659 111
Fax +31 314 652 575
E-mail info@pasreform.com
Internet www.pasreform.com
© Pas Reform Hatchery Technologies

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