Maintaining hatchery standards: the importance of sharing knowledge and experience

Tags: Hatchery management | Blog

Written by Martin Barten, October 19 2015

Maintaining hatchery standards: the importance of sharing knowledge and experience

On returning to a South American hatchery recently, I discovered that the hatchery manager I had worked with and seen grow into his role for the past three years had left. Together, we had made changes to conditions inside the hatchery as well as to incubation programs, such that the hatchery was performing very well, with consistently high chick quality, narrow hatch windows and hatchabilities well above standard.

The ‘new face’ that greeted me seemed very pleased to see me, admitting that since starting his new job, the hatchery’s management had noted a downward trend in results.

As we toured the hatchery together, I noticed little things being done differently. The new hatchery manager could not really explain why these changes had been made and in fact, did not even realize they had occurred.

He had many questions - and when I asked him about his training and handover from the previous hatchery manager, his answer, that he had not received any, was a surprise to me. He had simply been given the keys. It appeared that none of the existing staff had ever had the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ explained to them either: they simply did as they were told. For example, despite the existence of many incubation programs, nobody knew which program was used for what type of eggs.

For the rest of my visit, I went through all the hatchery’s procedures with the new manager. Having Graduated five years previously, he had since managed broiler farms. He was bright and while he picked up a lot of information very quickly, he was clearly relieved when I promised to stay in touch.

This experience reinforced for me that hatchery managers are not ‘made’ in schools or universities. They may learn the basis of becoming a hatchery manager there, but good hatchery managers grow into their job, as they build their experience, attend seminars, acquire information through training and reading and share knowledge with more experienced consultants and colleagues.

A good hatchery manager will not keep his knowledge and experience for him or herself, but transfers it to colleagues for the benefit of the entire company. And when it’s time to move on to a new role, the mark of a good manager is one who takes the time to work side-by-side with a newly appointed person, to ensure the continuing success of the operation - and its team!

Written by Martin Barten

Senior Hatchery Specialist