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Hatchery Development Department

Fumigation (1): how formaldehyde can affect hatchability

Fumigation with formaldehyde is a widespread and highly effective tool in the battle against contamination by viruses, bacteria and mould in hatcheries. However, it is not entirely without risk for the developing embryo, and a number of conditions (timing, ventilation, humidity, and temperature) need to be met in order to avoid that the gas adversely affects your hatchability. In a series of articles, we will explain why formaldehyde may reduce hatchability, look at methods of improving all aspects of the practice of fumigation and investigate alternative solutions.

Ventilation in the setter

Which is the dominant element for ventilation control: CO2 or humidity?

Egg storage: good practices

Upon arrival at the hatchery, eggs are stored for a number of days before incubation starts. This period of time can vary considerably between 0 to 20 or more days. To minimise embryonic mortality and maximise hatchability/chick quality, it is essential that optimal conditions are achieved in the egg holding room. The purpose of egg storage is to suspend development of the embryo until incubation is initiated. Incorrect storage will result in an increase in early deaths which are often misinterpreted as infertile eggs. In this article, we focus on the two most important parameters for egg storage: temperature and humidity.

Optimise your hatchery results through comparative trials

The only true way of achieving optimal hatchery results and ensuring they are integrated in the process chain is through comparative trials. It is therefore crucial that they are carried out accurately and efficiently. In this article, we listed some key elements for successful comparative trials.

Balanced loading of the setter

Sometimes, it is inevitable to load eggs from different flocks into one incubator. To avoid that this leads to uneven temperatures inside the setter and, consequently, decreased hatchability and chick uniformity, balanced loading is key.

Understanding the hatching egg

For many years, the hatcher was considered to be merely a ‘finishing’ machine. However, research undertaken by Petersime has shown that the hatcher can enhance and optimise what has already been achieved in the setter, resulting in gains in uniformity, quality, hatchability and post-hatch performance. This requires good program management.

Incubating by manual egg shell temperature measurements

Temperature is the most important incubation parameter, and allowing the egg shell temperature to dictate the air temperature during incubation is without a doubt an excellent method of operation. In hatcheries operating with S-line machines, Petersime’s OvoScan™ automatically and precisely makes the necessary egg shell temperature measurements, calculations, and adaptations, without opening the incubator’s doors. If OvoScan™ is not an option in your hatchery, you can manually measure the egg shell temperatures as an alternative. Read how to do this with optimal results and minimal damage to the embryos. 

The benefits of non-linear weight loss

One of the main benefits of single-stage incubation is the possibility to apply the non-linear weight loss system (NLWS), in which ventilation is reduced during the first 9 days in the setter and increased during the next 9 days. This article points out how NLWS works and why it is so beneficial. 

Configuring your setter temperature program

The standard Petersime OvoScan™ temperature program offers a “safe” starting point for general incubation. It achieves good hatch results with a high standard in chick quality. However, it is not the optimum profile for all flock types, ages, storage time, and many other factors that can affect embryonic development, growth and overall chick quality. Configuring the optimum temperature profile for your hatchery can only be done with site specific data analysis combined with the expertise of the Hatchery Manager/Company Incubation Specialist. However, there are some basic principles that should always be considered.

Choosing the correct air temperature in the hatcher after transfer

In previous articles such as “Understanding the Hatching Egg” and “Handle with care: egg transfer”, we discussed the hatching process and the effects of physical shock during transfer between setter and hatcher. However, there is another factor that plays an important role in terms of hatchability and chick quality: the thermal transition between setter and hatcher.

Updated S-line CO2NTROL™ profiles

For many years now, Petersime’s Embryo-Response Incubation™ systems have been providing significant gains in hatchability, chick quality and post-hatch performance. One of the key factors is the CO2NTROL™ system, which is standard installed on all S-line setters and hatcher configurations. Recent field trials and research have led to refinements of Petersime’s incubation profiles regarding CO2. These are based on two objectives: reducing early incubation mortality and improving chick yield. Chick yield is the weight of the chick at hatch as a percentage of the egg setting weight.  

Heat treatment during storage

In the process of incubating eggs on an industrial scale, egg storage is a key element that cannot be ignored or avoided. Long storage times (7 days or longer), however, inevitably lead to a significant decline in hatchability. In order to understand why heat treatment can partially restore hatchability losses caused by egg storage, as well as the limitations to this method, the biology of the early embryonic processes needs to be examined in detail.

Commercial application of heat treatment during storage

Last month, we explained why short periods of heat treatment in case of long storage times are beneficial for early embryonic development, zooming in on the biological background. In this article, we put this knowledge into practice: how can this treatment successfully be introduced in a modern-day hatchery?

Responsible disposal of hatchery waste

The chicken meat industry continues to grow globally; and so does the volume of hatchery waste: eggshell debris and fluff, infertile eggs, dead embryos, culled chicks, egg fluids, as well as wastewater from cleaning and disinfecting equipment and processing areas. In recent years, rising disposal costs, environmental regulations and awareness have created a need for hatcheries to find sustainable alternatives for waste management. There are various options for hatchery managers to convert their waste into value-added products such as compost, fertilizer, liming agents for soil amendment, biogas, medical products, and animal feed. This article explores some of these options.

Incubation of duck eggs without removal of cuticle

The removal of the cuticle has always been a common practice when incubating duck eggs. However, this removal involves a higher risk of contamination, possibly resulting in a huge negative impact on hatchery results. Petersime’s Dynamic Weight Loss System™ offers an alternative for the incubation of duck eggs, making the removal of the cuticle redundant, thereby reducing the risk of contamination.

BioStreamer™ Re-Store:  Impressive field results of hatch and post-hatch performance

The BioStreamer™ Re-Store warms up eggs for short periods during storage to minimize the losses in hatchability and chick quality caused by long storage times. Recently, several trials with the BioStreamer™ Re-Store were performed in a commercial broiler hatchery. The hatch and post-hatch performance was investigated and the results are extremely positive, what confirms the potential of this heat treatment technology.

BioStreamer™ Re-Store reduces early, mid and late embryonic death

The BioStreamer Re-Store™ improves the hatchability and chick quality of stored eggs. Previous field results proved that a Re-Store treatment enhances hatch and post-hatch performance (see E-news December 2014). New data from a broiler hatchery confirm that the Re-Store improves hatchability by reducing early, mid and late embryonic death. 

Egg pre-heating in modern single-stage hatcheries

Pre-heating the eggs before setting is an important step in the incubation cycle. In the field there have been many examples whereby early embryonic death, poor hatching timing, excessive hatch spread and embryonic malformation have been caused by poor pre-heating. With the industry now seeing significant gains through the optimisation of single-stage incubation, there has been a need to review the practice of pre-heating.

Principles of single-stage incubation (1)

Part 1: Is the multi- vs single-stage debate finally over? Single-stage incubation is the standard method in the modern hatchery industry. However, a lot of hatcheries are still using the multi-stage method. Running a single- stage hatchery requires some different skills and technologies than running a multi- stage hatchery. Therefore the Hatchery Development Department of Petersime will write some practical articles about the principles of single-stage incubation. This article is the first in this series and describes some general aspects between multi-stage and single-stage incubation.  

Unique approach for the incubation of layers

Petersime constantly investigates and develops new incubation programs. Different programs are available for each machine type for broilers, layers, turkeys, ducks and geese. These standard incubation programs are performing very well. However, small modifications are necessary to optimize hatchability, chick quality and chick uniformity for different sets of eggs. This article explains how the chick quality of layers can be improved by adjusting the egg shell temperature profile.

Principles of single-stage incubation (2)

Part 2: Optimise your incubation performance by means of temperature With single-stage incubation, it is now possible to truly optimise the performance of the incubation equipment, both in terms of hatch and post-hatch performance. As the most important parameter in incubation, temperature has a great impact on the hatchery results. This article deals with different aspects of temperature control during single-stage incubation.      

Principles of single-stage incubation (3)

Part 3: Optimise your incubation performance by means of weight loss Single-stage incubation allows for precise control of weight loss, which leads to improvements in chick quality. By looking at the natural incubation process of a parent bird, Petersime incubation experts determine the ideal conditions for developing embryos in different stages. With Embryo-Response Incubation™ technology, these conditions can be precisely controlled, resulting in a better hatchery performance.

Principles of single-stage incubation (4)

Part 4: Optimise your incubation performance by means of CO₂ control During incubation, embryos are consuming oxygen (O2) and producing carbon dioxide (CO2). With single-stage incubation, one can apply a ventilation controlled CO2 profile instead of venting at a constant rate. This leads to an improved chick quality and subsequent post-hatch performance. 

Natural hatching process

Looking towards nature and to the activities of the parent bird before, during and after the complete incubation process has always been a driving force behind the Petersime philosophy. Embryo-Response incubation™ technology is based on this principle. Synchro-Hatch™ gives the embryo the same signals and stimuli as it would experience from the attentive mother bird in nature and thus offers optimal hatching conditions.

Principles of single-stage incubation (5)

Part 5: The Future The series ‘Principles of single-stage incubation’ has come to an end. The most important incubation parameters have been discussed to strive for optimal performance of a single-stage hatchery. At this stage, we will take a look at the future potential of single-stage incubation.

Chick quality assessment and incubation optimisation (1)

Part 1: Baseline Chick quality becomes more and more important. A hatchery must produce qualitative chicks in order to meet the expectations of the farmer. The following series of articles will look at individual chick quality issues and the respective adaptions to the incubation program or incubation process in order to make improvements. The described issues and potential solutions are based on many years of experience of the Petersime Hatchery Development Department.

Chick quality assessment and incubation optimisation (2)

Part 2: analysis of navels Analysing chick quality is a key factor for the fine tuning of incubation conditions in order to maximize the genetic potential of the hatching eggs. This article focusses on the typical defects observed on the navels of day-old-chicks and how to investigate the cause of the problem in order to optimize chick quality.

Chick quality assessment and incubation optimisation (3)

Part 3: Chick appearance by feathering Chick quality becomes more and more important. A hatchery must produce qualitative chicks in order to meet the expectations of the farmer. 

Chick quality assessment and incubation optimization (4)

Part 4: Chick appearance by activity and behaviour A well-experienced hatchery manager will instinctively know when he is looking at healthy, active chicks with good levels of reactions and response to stimuli. Making observations is something that can be learnt with practice over time. We describe the key guidelines to make observational assessments considering chick activity and behaviour.

Chick quality assessment and incubation optimization (5)

Part 5: Analysis of the beak and legs Learn how to improve chick quality by analyzing the beak and legs. 

What happens during hatch? Understanding Synchro-Hatch™

Thanks to technologies currently available, the hatching process is steered by the biological developments of the embryo, with a narrow hatch window and better outcomes as a result. This article explains what happens during the hatching process and how Synchro-Hatch™ guides chicks through the hatch. 

Re-Stored turkey eggs outperform untreated eggs stored for 8 to 15 days by 7%

As storage time of eggs increases, performance losses increase. By using heat treatment during storage up to 14 days, as part of your standard hatchery practice, it is possible to gain up to 6 to 7% in turkey egg performance. Standard programs have been developed to advance the development of embryos to a more robust stage.

Bio-security: practical tips to minimize the human risk of contamination

All poultry operations are under a constant threat from the ever-present enemy of disease and infection. It is imperative in all operations that we teach our staff how to reduce potential risks as far as possible. In this article, I explain how diseases are transmitted and how you can reduce the risk of human transmission.

Optimize your value chain (1) - The growing concern to deliver quality

Optimizing your value chain is becoming more important in this time where there is a growing demand for traceability and relevant training. There are different ways, which we will describe in the upcoming series, to maximize the genetic potential that is inside the egg in order to get the most profitable day-old chicks for everybody involved in the poultry chain.

Optimize your value chain (2) - Nature’s guidance to maximizing the genetic potential of the egg

Last e-news, you could read how the concern to bring quality to the value chain in the poultry industry keeps growing. This time, we will dig deeper into how incubation results can be maximized with the help of the most ingenious inventor on earth: nature.

Optimize your value chain (3) – Are your temperature conditions still in great shape?

Last month, we discussed how nature set out the guidelines to optimize incubation results. Today we describe how temperature influences the growth rate and health of embryos during incubation. We check if your hatchery practices are still in great shape.

Optimize your value chain (4) – Why and when CO2 levels should be raised or lowered

Last month, we checked if your temperature regulation in the hatchery was still in great shape. Today we explain why the levels of CO2 should vary in line with the developmental stages the embryos are in. 

Optimize your value chain (5) – How to recognize good and bad humidity regulation in the incubator

We explained why and when CO2 levels should be raised or lowered last month. Today we describe how you can recognize signals of good and bad humidity regulation in the incubator. We will also check if your humidity management is still in great shape.

What happens during transfer?

Egg transfer from setters to hatchers is an important step in the hatching process. However, during the process, there are numerous risks that threaten to cause reductions in hatchability, such as mortality and malpositions.

Enhancing hatch and post-hatch performance with the non-linear weight loss approach

Want to obtain maximum hatchability and chick quality with more accuracy and less labour? Petersime took this question to heart and conducted extensive research on how to obtain optimal hatch and post-hatch performance. 

Learn from trials for optimum performance

Let’s say you are happy with your current hatchery results. But what if there is still room for improvement and you are not aware of it? How will you know if your hatchery can do better?

Is early feeding favourable? Timing is everything.

As the discussion around the welfare of newborn chicks and the optimum time to give them access to food and water grows, we think it is time to dig deeper in the issue. 

How to correctly load eggs into your incubators for an optimal heat balance? (1)

It’s no secret that temperature differences in the incubator cause a wider hatch window and negatively affect chick uniformity. Although it’s not evident, we can use incubated eggs to make the incubator’s environment even more homogeneous. Or, as it happens in most cases, we create an even wider temperature range by setting a mix of eggs in wrong positions. Does this sound familiar? In this series of 3 articles, we will teach you the best possible ways to combine eggs from different flocks with the micro-environment in the incubator.

How to correctly load eggs into your incubators for an optimal heat balance? (2)

This series of 3 articles shows you the best possible ways to mix eggs from different flocks in the incubator. Now you understand the basic principles of heat production and exchange, we will explain how to correctly load the setter.

How to correctly load eggs into your incubators for an optimal heat balance? (3)

This series of 3 articles shows you the best possible ways to mix eggs from different flocks in the incubator. So far, you learned about embryonic heat production and heat exchange in incubated eggs and how you should load them in the setter according to their “living mass”. Now the last thing left for you to discover is how you correctly transfer mixed eggs to the hatchers. Let me explain.

Rethink the golden rules of incubation

Your incubation results might be affected by a lack of accuracy in the rules you’re applying. The rules of incubation have been derived from multi-stage methodology and stay ingrained in our habits even though they are ready for an update in the single-stage era. 

Is chick yield still a valid reference?

Many hatcheries still use chick yield (Chick yield is the average chick weight divided by the average fresh egg weight multiplied by 100) as a reference of good incubation conditions and chick quality and as an indicator of high post hatch performance. At Petersime we continuously rethink the golden rules of incubation and ask ourselves: ‘How relevant is this practice in the industry today and can it still be considered as a valid and accurate reference? 

4 Things to remember about fumigation

Fumigation with formaldehyde has been common practice in hatcheries to disinfect eggs since around 1908. These days almost all hatchery managers use it to prevent losses due to microbial contamination of hatching eggs.

Less early deaths and better hatch results with the new Petersime incubation program

At Petersime we are constantly rethinking the rules of commercial incubation by studying nature. That also means we continuously improve the incubation programs for our machines according to the results of that research. Our recent key findings show it is beneficial to ventilate the setter in the beginning of the hatching process. As part of our customer service, the programs are updated to optimize your hatching results. 

5 easy steps to check Fumigation Efficacy

It is common practice to fumigate the hatching eggs to prevent losses due to microbial contamination. You should check your fumigation annually to make sure it is still effective. Follow these 5 easy steps to get the best results from that yearly check-up.

Understanding the role of CO₂ in commercial incubation

There is no question that the most critical element involved in the successful incubation of the avian egg is temperature. However, CO₂ is another key factor not to be overlooked. CO₂ is important in achieving the optimum chick quality, subsequent overall performance, and contributing towards good welfare.

Reduce your hatch window with these 3 recommendations

Improving the hatch window is crucial to achieve better day-old chick uniformity, higher quality and better post-hatch performance. In this article, we have gathered three key advices based on studying the behaviour of the brooding hen that can shorten the hatch window and improve the performance of your chicks.

Spectacular results after heat treatment for short-stored layer eggs

The Petersime R&D department and layer breeding company Hy-Line do Brasil have joined forces to investigate the benefits of using heat treatment for layer eggs stored for 6 to 8 days. In a series of comparative trials using the BioStreamer™ Re-Store to apply the SPIDES process for layers, they have tested 121,500 eggs. The first results are spectacular.

Chick holding: 4 important principles

After take-off on hatch day, day-old chicks are stored for a period of time before being moved to the farm. Chick storage time can vary considerably, from just a couple of hours to an overnight stay. A sound understanding of the principles involved in storing chicks is vital to preserve chick quality and performance and ensure the well-being of the chicks. This article explains these principles and highlights good chick holding conditions.

Why to perform breakout analyses in your hatchery

To achieve good hatchability and chick quality, bird eggs need careful management from the time they are laid to the time they hatch. Breakout analyses are a valuable tool in the hatchery manager’s hatching egg management arsenal. By making breakouts part of the quality control procedure in your hatchery, you will be able to improve your hatch results in the long term.

Raised CO2 levels during hatching: a myth debunked

For many years, raised CO2 levels at the end of the incubation period were thought to be harmful for the developing bird embryo – this is a myth that couldn’t be further from the truth. Under natural circumstances, the level of CO2 measured in the micro-environment under the hen reaches 0.4% or 4,000 ppm at least, and often more. This represents ten times the normal level of CO2 in the outside air. In fact, when sitting on the eggs, the mother hen cuts off the airstream around the eggs to create a protected environment so that embryos can develop in the best possible conditions. Eager to better understand this process, Petersime set out to determine the optimal CO2 levels during hatching and the correct moment to raise them.

Hatchery waste: how can we reduce, reuse and recycle (more)?

As more and more people around the world do their best to decrease their level of waste, shouldn’t hatcheries also be reducing, reusing and recycling more, if not all, of their waste, too? The answer to that question may seem obvious to an outsider, yet insiders know that sustainable disposal of hatchery waste is not an easy challenge to tackle. In this article, we explain why that is the case, and review possible solutions.

The role of HVAC systems in single-stage hatcheries

Since the evolution of the hatchery industry from multi-stage to single-stage incubation, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems have become an indispensable part of hatchery operations. In essence, the HVAC system does the heavy lifting when it comes to climate control in single-stage hatcheries, and thereby helps the incubators achieve an optimal yield. The importance of climate control stretches far beyond the conditioning of the air for setters and hatchers, as controlling the air conditions in every room, from the reception of eggs to the dispatch of chicks, in a single-stage hatchery is essential to achieving optimal hatchery results.

The specific requirements and sensitivities of turkey egg incubation

Turkey eggs have a high incubation success rate when all the species-specific areas of incubation are managed correctly. Hence, a suite of incubation equipment that allows for fine-tuning of the processes and parameters is more than worth the investment.

The importance of analysing embryonic mortality

To be effective in identifying the cause of hatch loss, conducting egg breakouts is a necessity. By examining clear and unhatched eggs and analysing embryo mortality patterns, you can relate existing problems to the breeder farm, egg holding, handling, transportation, transfer or setter or hatcher conditions in order to improve overall hatchability and chick quality.

How to guard your hatchery against biosecurity threats

Biosecurity, by simple definition, is a set of procedures undertaken to limit the spread of infectious pathogens to a susceptible population. It is, however, more than that. Biosecurity is a mindset, a way of assessing and reacting to potential risks. And it is the right mindset combined with the right procedures that will guard your hatchery against biosecurity threats.

Multi-stage versus single-stage incubation put to the test in a commercial broiler hatchery

Single-stage incubation is a well-established concept in the more modern poultry businesses. Due to the increasing demand for poultry meat and the higher food safety and quality standards, the more traditional multi-stage markets are also starting to show a growing interest in single-stage systems with advanced technologies such as Embryo-Response Incubation™. To remove any doubts and concretise the real gains of using single-stage instead of multi-stage incubators, the LAR Cooperative in Brazil and Petersime have joined forces in an extensive comparative trial.

Reducing the impact of prolonged egg storage on hatchery performance

The current COVID-19 pandemic is causing chick order disruptions, confronting hatcheries with having to store more eggs for longer periods. It is well-known that storing eggs for multiple days causes a decline in hatchability and egg quality. In this article, we reach out with a solution to reduce the negative effects of prolonged egg storage: a dedicated incubator to precisely apply heat treatment cycles during egg storage.

Energy efficiency in the sustainable hatchery

Energy is an important cost factor in the hatchery. Using energy-efficient incubators and HVAC systems can greatly reduce your operational costs. Then again, the benefits are more than just financial: A smaller ecological footprint also creates a more sustainable image for your hatchery. In this article, we consider different ways for hatcheries to achieve the goal of energy conservation and become a more sustainable business.

How to increase egg density with an incubator engineered for higher capacity

The growing demand for poultry meat continues to push up the average capacity of hatcheries, creating the need for bigger buildings and more incubators to allow for the necessary output. For most companies, this implies a rise in costs. But what if there was another way? Petersime’s X-Streamer™ High Density (HD) incubator, which has been specially designed and engineered for more capacity, helps companies build new hatcheries which can achieve their total desired hatchery capacity with fewer machines and a smaller footprint.

Temperature: a critical factor when incubating waterfowl eggs with cuticle

Of all the parameters monitored throughout incubation, temperature is the primary one. When using the non-linear weight loss approach to incubate waterfowl eggs with cuticle, the right incubation temperature is even more critical. Once configured, the non-linear weight loss approach will lead hatcheries to the optimum Hatch of Fertile percentage while retaining the natural protection offered by the cuticle.

Monitoring the turkey incubation process to ensure the best results

Incubating turkey eggs is often considered to be more challenging than incubating broiler eggs, yet, in essence, the basic principle of success is the same in both turkey and broiler hatcheries. Continuously monitoring the incubation process is crucial to understand what the embryo inside the egg is experiencing and to ensure incubation success. This article highlights four key points a turkey hatchery should closely monitor to reach excellent hatchability and poult quality.

Big data: a major added value to the entire poultry value chain

Optimising the poultry value chain is crucial in this time when hatcheries are becoming larger and more integrated and end customers are putting more pressure on the total chain. This article sheds a light on how the use of big data can improve the overall performance of hatcheries as well as of the entire value chain.

Evaluating the exterior quality of hatching eggs

Egg quality has a significant impact on hatchability and chick quality. Since a hatchery manager’s main aim is to produce the highest possible number of first-quality chicks, the evaluation of hatching egg quality should be an essential part of the standardised procedures in modern hatcheries. Quality factors for eggs can be divided into two general groups: exterior and interior. This article presents an overview of the main exterior quality factors.

The effect of hot and cold hatcher temperature profiles on hatchability and chick quality

An eggshell temperature of 100°F (37.8°C) is widely accepted as optimal for embryonic development from the start of incubation up until transfer time. Eggshell temperature control in the setter has therefore become common practice to achieve optimal results. But what about the hatcher phase: Is an eggshell temperature of 100°F also the optimal setpoint after egg transfer? This article discusses the results of a Petersime trial that investigated three hatcher temperature profiles and their effect on hatchability and chick quality.

Slower-growing broilers and sustainable animal welfare: an introduction

The genetic selection of broilers for fast growth has led to a large, lean and efficient chicken production, but has also introduced animal welfare concerns. Although slower-growing breeds have been found to show better welfare traits compared to fast-growing breeds, broiler welfare should not be considered in isolation, but in the context of feeding the world with the limited resources we have. Long-term sustainable broiler welfare can only be reached if the challenges across all of the following areas are properly managed: animal welfare, economic development and environmental protection. Petersime has joined a partnership between the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and Wageningen Livestock Research that investigates the production of sustainable, healthy slower-growing broilers.

Hatching eggs: the importance of assessing internal egg quality

Hatching egg quality has a significant impact on hatchability and chick quality. By making egg quality control a part of the routine procedures in your hatchery, you will be able to improve your hatch results. Although it is fairly easy to evaluate external egg quality by checking the egg’s exterior, it can be more challenging to perform deeper checks on a regular basis. This article describes the most important interior quality factors to help you assess internal egg quality.