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Optimising hatcher conditions

Optimising hatcher conditions

By: Maciej Kolanczyk – Senior Hatchery Specialist, Pas Reform Hatchery Technologies

Hatching is the last part of the incubation cycle and optimal conditions in the hatcher are essential for best hatch results.

Whether a single or multistage incubation system is used, the hatcher is always a single stage machine. Eggs can be transferred from setter to the hatcher between the 15th and 19th day of the cycle, the optimum being days 18-19. Regardless of when the transfer is done, the total incubation time will not change.

A hatcher is a small cabinet, usually loaded to full capacity with eggs, all in their last incubation phase. The embryos as well as the hatched chicks require a lot of cooling and fresh air. As the baskets hamper the air circulation more than the setter trays, a high airflow helps to create a uniform environment. An efficient cooling system and a good supply of fresh air that reaches all parts of the hatcher are therefore necessary for the chicks to survive. The hatching process consists of three periods:

  • Period 1 - before pipping
  • Period 2 - from beginning of pipping until peak humidity
  • Period 3 - after peak humidity

Period 1 is simply an extension of the incubation process in the setter. The set points can be fixed, and typical values are: 40-55% relative humidity (RH), 97.5-98.50F temperature, 0.4-0.5% CO2. The actual values depend on the breed, design of the hatcher and local conditions. During Period 2 the leading parameter to be watched in the hatcher is the RH. This is the best indication of when pipping has begun and when hatching is complete. It can be followed by simply watching the graphs, if these are available. Pipping and hatching take several hours. During the process, a hatcher – even if all eggs are very uniform– will contain ready chicks and still closed eggs. As the hatchlings are wet, the RH raises spontaneously (period 2), reaches its maximum and...

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