Tags: Egg handling | Whitepaper
11 December 2010,
Uniformity in day-old chicks is increasingly important as a contributor to economic efficiency. Producing chicks of a uniform size requires two basic conditions: an optimized incubation process, which depends on the quality of the incubators and the incubation programs - and uniformly sized hatching eggs, which relies upon many factors linked to the breeder farm. Breed, the age of the hen, the hen’s body size, feeding, diseases and the farm environment are all key factors.
In the hen’s life cycle, egg size changes according to a natural pattern, being smaller at the beginning of lay and becoming larger towards the end. From the breeder flock, we expect the production of as many hatching eggs as possible in an optimum size range of 50-70g. If the hens are uniform in size and maturing at the same age, we can expect eggs laid by them to be uniform. Physical and physiological development depends mainly on rearing. In all management guides, body size is described by body weight. However the reproductive physiology of a small, fat hen is different from her tall, skinny sister - even if their body weight is identical. Actual body size is related to the dimensions of skeleton. Breeders within one flock that are uniform by skeleton size and body weight at 20 weeks will respond similarly to programs that stimulate maturity.
Because the skeleton is fully formed by 11-12 weeks of age, the first half of the rearing period becomes an important phase: a limited period during which uniformity can be successfully influenced.
The first rearing week is the period when the most intensive growth in a hen’s life occurs – potentially leading to great differences between birds. These differences are mainly a reflection of variation in the development of internal organs, which dictate whether the bird will be a more - or less – efficient organism in the future. A good start from the first hour on the rearing farm is the best investment for achieving the smooth development of the pullet later. Early, effective control of growth, smooth development, passing important “check points” at six and 12 weeks and starting the lighting program at optimum age all contribute to the development of a uniform flock that will produce uniform eggs.