SmartStart™ is a flexible post-hatch feeding solution that gives newly hatched chicks the earliest possible access to feed, water and light. SmartStart™ promotes the development of robust, day-old chicks and helps to reduce the need for antibiotics. SmartStart™ comprises two key elements that can be applied individually, or together: precision feeding and intelligent lighting.
In 2019, Royal Pas Reform, in collaboration with a European integration, designed and carried out a large field study to test the effect of SmartStart™ on first-week mortality in the farm in a commercial setting. Day-old chicks from SmartStart™ and regular hatchers were housed separately in the farm to monitor results. A total of almost two-million birds were placed during this trial – which was largely carried out during 2019, but which continues to provide new information on a daily basis.
For each trial, the eggs were divided equally over the test and control hatchers, taking into consideration the breeder flock, flock age and egg storage time. The chicks were unloaded from both hatching systems at the same time. The time of chick pulling, processing and transporting them to the farm were also kept equal for both systems. The field trial results showed that the first-week mortality was significantly lower for the SmartStart™ chicks, which was validated by a reputable Dutch university.
“The SmartStart™ system offers a perfect start for newborn chicks,” says Erik Wolterinck of Schotman hatchery and poultry farms. “It is good for the wellbeing of the new-born chicks – as stress can be harmful to their health. Our customers see real differences when the chicks arrive on the farm. They are much more relaxed.”