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Managing CO2 and fresh air to optimise hatchability

Managing CO2 and fresh air to optimise hatchability

By Martin ‘Tiny’ Barten, senior hatchery specialist, Pas Reform Hatchery Technologies

Last year I was invited to a layer hatchery that was reporting slightly lower hatchability than its sister hatcheries, despite using eggs from the same flocks with the same pre-setting treatment. 

The hatchery was using several generations of incubators, from very old to relatively new machines. Hatchabilities had not been assigned to machine type, which complicated my investigation, and one common issue was that none of the setters could achieve unrealistically high humidity set points. This was partially due to very dry inlet air, which forced the setters’ humidifiers to work constantly and created cold spots that extended the hatch window.

On day two of my visit there was a hatch. While I was very pleased with chick quality, a breakout of unhatched eggs from various machines revealed too many embryos dying just before internal pipping.  Air cells were large enough and the embryos had a normal, dry appearance, so this was not due to insufficient weight loss. What then was the cause? 

Studying climate graphs from recent hatcher cycles revealed that although the newest hatchers were equipped with CO2 sensors, these were not being used to automatically control fresh air supply. Instead, these modern hatchers were being...

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