Many at times, we as chicken farmers usually have little knowledge about how our chicks are hatched.
The dearth of information about the series of activities on how chicks go through the different stages of handling before being Sold after hatching is the reason for coming up with this enlightening article.
As poultry farmers, we all buy day old chicks but some who have never had the luxury of working in a hatchery environment will never have an idea of on goings in the hatchery.
Right from the moment that fertilization of the egg takes place in the reproductive organ of the hen, there and then the development of the future day old chick begins its journey.
Having had the opportunity of interacting with various poultry farmers across different social media platforms, it has always been a common attitude amongst farmers to blame the hatcheries for their early chick mortality or poor chick performance without considering their pre-brooding and brooding management practices as well as their adherence to strict biosecurity protocols.
From a characteristic poultry hatchery experience; this write up is a virtual walkthrough of the typical daily hatchery activities as well as some technical management practices that the hatchery manager as well as other hatchery workers put in to ensure that their customers get a quality, performing and diseased free day old chick whose genetic characteristics would be fully expressed by the meticulous poultry farmer.
The truth is this. From a competitive as well as a financial perspective, no brand wants to lose its customers to any other rival company, every brand wants to retain its customers and also acquire new ones, and so they go all out to protect their image. And as such , the hatcheries aren’t left out in this common business principle…… reason why they go any length to replace chicks if there is evidence that your early mortality losses or poor growth was from the side of the hatchery.
Without much ado, lets get going into exploring the hatchery environment and how chicks are finally hatched before they are sold/distributed to customers.
Under normal conditions, the hatchery Is one of those places that maintains one of the strictest biosecurity protocols. This is due to the vulnerability of the end product (your day old chicks) .
Do you know that 68% of an egg mass equals to the chick size at day old?
Now when the eggs are collected in the Parent Stock farm, the reject eggs comprising of crack eggs, dirty eggs, bad/wrinkled shaped eggs , poor shell quality are all sorted out. Whatever is left of all the sorting activities above is referred to as hatchable eggs. Meaning that they meet the requirement of cleanliness, good shell quality , good egg size and shape.
These hatchable eggs then undergo a series of stages that will be explained in the subsequent paragraphs.
Do you know?
Only fertile eggs can be hatched to produce day old chicks. Meaning that an infertile egg can never ever hatch as day old chicks.
So how are your chicks hatched?
Once the hatchable eggs have undergone the sorting stage, they are taken to the FUMIGATION ROOM where they are fumigated before being moved to the COLD ROOM.
Once the fumigation has been completed, the fumigated hatchable eggs are arranged in trays before being moved into the setters where it remains for the next 18 days.
On the 18th day, candling is carried out and the fertile eggs are moved to the hatchery where they remain for 3 days before the chicks are hatched.
The hatched chicks are sorted where the reject chicks are removed from the good ones and destroyed. Vaccination at day old takes place in the hatchery before they are boxed and moved for onward sales/delivery to the customer .
Please note that this article was written in the simplest form for a common poultry farmer or enthusiast to understand. The process of getting a chick hatched is more complex and involves a lot of technical knowledge that would ensure a high fertility and hatching percentage in the hatchery