Good routines for in-house hatching of broilers
A how-to guide
In-house hatching of eggs gains ground with several broiler producers in Northern Europe.
If adopting this production form, the broiler producer receives the eggs from the hatchery after 18 days in the hatchery's setter line. The last three days of hatching take place in-house instead of in a traditional incubator in the hatchery facility.
There are several advantages and challenges of this production form:
- The day-old chicks are exposed to minimal noise and dust during incubation.
- In a hatchery facility, the broilers are typically removed from the incubator before the last egg is ready for hatching. Therefore, in-house hatching results in a higher incubation percentage.
- There is more space for the incubated broilers, reducing the infection pressure.
- Due to very low air velocities, broilers are not that easily dehydrated after in-house hatching.
- The broilers have access to feed and water immediately after hatching.
- The broilers are not exposed to climate changes or stress resulting from transport.
- The farm manager also becomes the hatching manager, which requires additional skills.
- The production period is extended by the three days the eggs are in the house.
- The day-old broilers must be vaccinated in-house.
- Egg trays, eggshells, and other equipment are handled in the house.
- Additional management requirements for room and floor temperature (floor heating).
In the following, we describe some good routines for in-house broiler hatching.
Preparing the livestock house
- Making preparations, such as cleaning and heating the livestock house, means even more, when practicing in-house hatching, as the incubated broilers are more ”vulnerable” than day-old broilers.
Preheating the livestock house
- Preheating the livestock house for day-old broilers is important – but even more important when practicing in-house hatching.
- Plan with a room temperature of 38°C 1-2 days before the eggs arrive.
- The floor temperature (cement floor) must be 31.5-32°C.
- The straw is distributed after preheating the floor to prevent it from getting moist on a cold floor.
- The layer of straw must be thin and evenly distributed (approximately 800 g/m2).
Paper for egg trays
- Paper for hatching is placed in an area where you are sure that draught does not occur.
- The paper type should be ”soft,” not ”smooth.” It gives the hatched broilers a better ”foothold” when hatched.
Climate when placing the eggs
- Housing temperature 34°C
- Humidity 60%
Measure the egg temperature
- After placing the eggs in the livestock house, you must select about 20 eggs for temperature measurement.
- Measure the temperature of the same eggs every time.
- Select 20 eggs that are representative, i.e., avoid eggs that are in the center or along the walls.
- Measure the temperature of the eggs for the first time 3-4 hours after placing them in the house.
- 50% is expected to be hatched on day 2 after the placement of eggs in the house.
- You can raise the temperature a few degrees at the end of hatching to ”force” the hatching of the last eggs.
- Once the broilers are hatched, you can lower the temperature by 3-4 degrees so the broilers huddle together in clusters.
- The egg shells are blown away from the area (for instance, with a leaf blower working at low power).
- Unhatched eggs and egg trays are removed from the house.
Prepare the feed
- Prepare the hatching of the broilers and add the feed in the feeding pans and on the paper just before hatching for easy access.
Light during hatching
- 10% light when placing the eggs in the house
- 30% light when 70–80% of the eggs are hatched
- 100% light when all eggs are hatched
- Vaccination (spray), if needed, must be carried out before removing the paper in the hatching zone.
The above guidelines are based on practical experiences that SKOV considers to yield good results.
From here, the producer follows the usual guidelines for good management when the broilers are kept in a house with on-floor management.