Chicks hatching on the floor of the broiler house
True to tradition, hatching is a process to usually take place in a regular hatchery. An alternative however, is hatching in a prewarmed house, thus allowing newly born chicks immediate access to feed and water. With the NestBorn® system, the eggs are put on a bed of woodchips on the floor. Once they are hatched, the chicks immediately find their way in the house.
By Ad Bal
A truck, carrying 50.00O pre-incubated eggs arrives at the farm. First, a futuristic high-tech machine is unloaded. Powered by a high capacity battery, this self-propelled machine is moved into the prewarmed grower house by the operator. Then the lorries with racks with 18 day pre-incubated eggs are unloaded and taken into the house.
The operator positions the machine over the 2 meter wide bedding strip, which is covered with woodchips. Onwards the racks with the pre-incubated eggs are put on the “feeding sled” of the machine one by one, after which the eggs are automatically transferred onto the bedding strip.
The machine moves forward a little and the next 300 eggs put in. Meanwhile, the emptied racks are sliding out of the machine and taken away by another person. It all happens very quietly and smoothly. Step by step all the lorries and racks are emptied until all the eggs have been laid down smoothly on the floor. The machine, with 2 operators, has a 60,000 eggs per hour capacity.
A special egg monitoring tool has been developed for the NestBorn system. Battery powered “Ovoscans” are placed between the eggs to measure the egg shell and air temperature, relative humidity and CO2 concentration. These data can be displayed on a PC or smartphone, allowing the farmer and hatchery personnel to monitor the correct hatching conditions in the broiler house.
By around day 20 of incubation, the first chicks will start hatching, after which by the end of day 21, around 98% of eggs are hatched. Immediately thereafter the non-hatched eggs must be removed and destroyed.
“We have developed this system from our own point of view”, says Leo Suls of HFHC nv from Belgium, the holding company of NestBorn . “Next to other systems on the market nowadays, this is our vision on how to effectively apply early feeding of newly hatched chicks. It is an uncomplicated system, which is a great advantage for the farmer. He must prepare and prewarm the house like he did before and does not have to make additional investments. The high-tech egg placement machine is our own investment. “
From experience and extensive scientific research, the advantages of early feeding have been proved in recent years. Also chicks in the NestBorn system can make a flying start. There’s no stress, caused by all the normal handling activities in a hatchery or from transportation. From the moment of first feed intake, their gut development is activated. With that, also their immune system is triggered. As a result, the birds are much stronger and healthier and with that, they are living under better welfare conditions.
“We measure 50 percent less food pad lesions”, says Leo Suls. “Moreover, the flock is much more homogenous and less antibiotics are needed. The birds reach their target weight one...
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