The true value of preventive hatchery maintenance

Tags: Hatchery management | Whitepaper

Written by Erik Meijer, August 27 2010

The true value of preventive hatchery maintenance

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.

Operational or equipment break-downs and malfunctions can cause severe disruption to the business, potentially with serious and costly implications for hatchability and chick quality.

Waiting until equipment breaks down is the opposite of a proactive, well-organized preventive maintenance program. It is important to avoid equipment break-downs and malfunctions because:

  • They almost always come unexpectedly and at inappropriate moments, such as half way through an incubation cycle, in the middle of the night or during a festive holiday.
  • The hatchery’s technical engineer may not be available when the breakdown or malfunction occurs, or not know exactly how to repair or solve an urgent problem.
  • Relevant spare-parts may not be in stock and it may take several days for urgently ordered spare parts to be received.
  • During the period of equipment break-down, followed by time to make the required repair, costs are being incurred, for example because hatchery staff are idle for some hours until they can re-commence their normal work activities.
  • Depending on the duration of the break-down or equipment malfunction, such an event will almost certainly have a negative effect on hatchery results.

A skilled and dedicated technical staff and the ready onsite availability of a full range of spare parts are key ingredients for a successful preventive maintenance program.

With these factors in place, the hatchery can expect to achieve relatively uninterrupted operation, not only of incubation equipment, but also of supporting and auxiliary functions, such as climate control systems, hatchery automation, stand-by generator, alarm and waste systems, trucks and the many other services and systems that together support the comprehensive modern hatchery in its day-to-day operations.

A well-organized preventive maintenance program typically includes:

  • regular checks to ensure that all hatchery equipment is functioning correctly
  • carrying out relevant services and maintenance to extend the lifetime of essential parts, and
  • replacing parts before they reach the end of their technically recommended lifetime.

When problems are detected during regular checks, there is still ample time to plan for the replacement of relevant parts before they actually break down, which is fundamental to preventing disruption to the smooth-running of the hatchery.

Accurately recording maintenance activities generates an essential maintenance history for the hatchery, which will be invaluable in the event of changes to personnel. By analyzing maintenance data over a longer time period, the frequency of preventive maintenance as well as specific instructions for maintenance activities can be adjusted.

With such a systematic approach to preventive maintenance, hatchery equipment can be expected to deliver top performance, achieve a maximum lifetime of use and contribute to hatchery reliability and profitability.


  • List all hatchery equipment that requires preventive maintenance.
  • Define who is responsible for the preventive maintenance of each item of hatchery equipment.
  • Schedule the frequency of regular service/maintenance checks for each item of hatchery equipment.
  • Describe what should be done at which interval. Make a distinction between activities that should be carried out daily, weekly, before each incubation cycle and less frequently, for example every six months.
  • Record all preventive maintenance activities, including any and all corrective actions performed and/or which parts are repaired or replaced.
  • Review maintenance records on a regular basis, to fine-tune the optimal frequency of the hatchery’s preventive maintenance program.

Written by Erik Meijer

Manager Parts and Maintenance Programmes