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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.

By Roger  Banwell, Hatchery Development Manager, Petersime nv

Avian Rules

In the world of incubation there are certain factors that remain consistent and could be considered as Avian Rules. For example weight loss requirements remain the same for a humming bird egg as it does for an ostrich egg. If this logic is followed through, all poultry broiler and layer flock types would require the same incubation conditions and there would only be a need for variations according to flock age, storage time, storage conditions etc.

However, as many hatchery managers will tell you, the reality is that the Avian Rules do of course apply but each poultry breed type has differing sensitivities within the Avian Rules. A good example of this differing sensitivity is the vulnerability of layers to excessive or insufficient cooling prior to and during the yolk sac and vascular system retraction phase of the incubation cycle (between internal and external pipping).

Brown layer hen

Unhealed navel problems with layers

As a consequence of this vulnerability, a common issue is the chick quality of layers, more specifically unhealed navel problems. 

Unhealed navel of a day-old chick

Petersime’s Embryo-Response Incubation technology allows very precise data acquisition and ultimately a very high level of performance optimisation. With the technology of OvoScan™, the egg shell temperature of the eggs can be precisely controlled. Research by the Petersime Hatchery Development Department has resulted in an optimized incubation profile for layers, resulting in a better chick quality.

Optimizing incubation profiles

There is often a degree of optimisation done for the target egg shell temperature of very young and old flocks. This is because the shell surface to volume ratio of very young and old flocks can significantly differ. Nevertheless, an egg shell temperature of 100.0 ⁰F throughout a broiler incubation cycle produces good results.

However, the same approach cannot be applied to layers. A gradual increase in target egg shell temperature ensures optimum conditions for the timing and initiation of yolk sac and vascular retraction. This temperature profile results in an increased chick quality as the number of chicks with an unhealed navel will be reduced. Good transfer and hatcher temperatures are also critical¹.

Target egg shell temperature incubation profile for layers

The graph above can only be considered as a generalisation as even within the same breeds, the differing flock types, browns, whites etc. have significantly different sensitivities.


Applying a correct and optimized target egg shell temperature for layers results in a better chick quality. This article shows how with Petersime’s Embryo-Response Incubation Technology and knowledge, the highest levels of optimal performance can be consistently achieved. 


¹Choosing the correct air temperature in the hatcher after transfer