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Luthfi D. Mahfudz
Poultry Production Laboratory
Faculty of Animal and Agriculture Science
Location and Good Design
• Having chosen a green field site for the new
hatchery, it is important first to consider the lay-
out of the facility carefully, followed by producing
an engineering plan of drains, piping, ducting and
• Good design is crucial to cost-effective hatchery
operation - and should avoid long walking
distances anywhere on the site, to minimize the use
of internal transport. To prevent cross-
contamination, the plan should incorporate a uni-
directional flow of people, eggs, air, trays, baskets
and trolleys: ‘clean’ should never meet ‘dirty’.
Eggs Receive Area
• In the egg area, will the eggs arrive on farm
trolleys, paper/plastic trays or egg boxes - and in
• How long will eggs be stored - and will they
require different temperatures?
• Will grading and selection take place at the
hatchery or at the farm or both of its.
• Egg handling automated or manual?
• Are eggs fumigated on arrival, or before setting?
Should there be a room for storing discarded
hatching eggs and are rooms for washing and
storing trays or trolleys required?
Incubation Area Dividation
• The incubation area will be subdivided into setter
room, candling and transfer room and Hatcher room.
• Depending on how many setters are installed, there
will be one or more rooms to maintain a reasonable
walking distance along the length of each row of
• The size of the transfer room depends on the
automation equipment being used and on the number
of eggs being processed. Also consider how candling
waste will be dealt with.
• Finally in this area, the number of hatchers in each
Hatcher room should allow efficient ‘all in-all out’
operation - and therefore depends on the setters’
capacity and the number of hatches produced weekly.
Chicks Area and Addition Space
• The chick area may need additional space for sexing and
• The size of the handling room also depends on the level of
automation. Holding room dimensions should be based on
the number of chicks stored and whether or not males and
females are separated.
• In harsh climatic conditions, it makes sense to plan for
loading onto trucks inside the building.
• And a soaking room for cleaning dirty chick boxes
returned from the farm is also advised.
• Ideally, this is located adjacent to the storage area for
empty chick boxes. Hatchery waste, e.g. empty shells,
unhatched eggs and dead chicks, can be removed from the
hatchery by a macerator and screw conveyor, situated near
an outside wall. A vacuum waste system offers more
flexibility and improved hygiene.
• Breeder Flock Health, Age and Nutrition (females
with a good rate of lay mated to vigorous males,
nutritional requirement )
• Clean Eggs are Important (clean area where eggs can
be cleaned, selected for quality )
• Selection and Care of Hatching Eggs (Select hatching
eggs are uniform in size, shape and colour, with good
• The Incubator Room (heating, humidity, ventilation,
• Incubators (capacity ranges from approximately 14,000
to 100,000 eggs.).
Incubation Time for some Common Avian Species
Chicken 21 days
Turkey 28 days
Japanese quail 17 days
Guinea fowl 26 days
Pheasant, Partridge 24 days
Duck 28 days
Muscovy duck 35 days
Goose 28-32 days
The Principal Factors in Incubation
1. Any incubator will produce better results when
operating at capacity. Egg capacity is a factor;
2. How long the incubator will last and cost of all
3. Service and availability of parts;
4. Accuracy of controls, to keep temperature and
humidity fluctuations to a minimum;
5. The amount of labor involved in operating the
machine and carrying out a thorough sanitation
6. The guarantee.
• Hatching eggs may be warmed to a temperature of
25 to 30oC, prior to setting.
• The normal development of the embryo is
dependent on the heat being held within a very
narrow range in the incubator.
• In small still-air incubators, the temperature of
the upper surface of the egg is higher than on the
lower surface, while in large incubators, the air
movement maintains the same temperature over
the entire surface.
• For this reason, a still-air incubator must be
operated at a higher temperature than a forced-
Numerous factors may contribute to high or low
• High or low room temperatures or floor temperature under the
incubator affect the operating temperature of both large and
small incubators. A large incubator placed near an outside wall
may have one section operating at a lower or higher temperature
than the other. These problems and those listed below will result in
one group of eggs hatching earlier or later than the others,
increased embryo mortality or cause leg deformity in chicks &
• Floor temperature variation because of drains causing cold or
heat under the incubator.
• an incubator thermometer not reading correctly.
• the failure of automatic equipment such as thermostats, cooling
coils or automatic dampers.
• improper air circulation leading in turn to a rise in temperature in
part of the incubator, because of: a decrease in fan speed, usually
caused by low voltage or a slipping fan belt; incorrect spacing of
filled egg trays in a partially filled incubator.
• overloading an incubator for any one setting of eggs.
• During the incubation period, eggs should lose 11 to 12% of their
weight (another 3 to 4% in the hatcher, after day 18), due mainly
to a loss of moisture.
• The amount of moisture (humidity) in the incubator controls the
rate of evaporation from the egg. The evaporation rate is also
related to temperature, air speed, shell thickness, and size of eggs;
the smaller the eggs, the greater percentage of moisture loss.
• Too great a moisture loss from the egg in the early stage of
incubation will cause the embryo to adhere to the shell, causing
• Insufficient evaporation may cause death from lack of oxygen
because of a small air cell, since just prior to pipping the shell, the
embryo pips into the air cell and starts to breath air.
• The best guides to the correct amount of humidity in an incubator
is the weight loss and the size and enlargement of the air cell
during incubation, or the position at which the chick pips the
• The degree of enlargement of the air cell should be determined by
candling several eggs and estimating the averagee evaporation.
Incorrect humidity may be due to a number of factors,
the more important of which are
1. High environmental humidity in tropical countries.
2. A wet-bulb thermometer reading incorrectly. Remove the wick to
determine whether the thermometer is reading the same as the dry-
3. Dust and dirt on the wet-bulb wick. Change wicks often and use only
distilled water in the reservoir.
4. In small incubators with humidity supplied by water pan evaporation,
ensure that always an adequate amount of water in the pan. The lower
the humidity in the room, the higher the evaporation and vice versa.
5. Ventilating an incubator to control temperature will lower humidity in a
dry environment in the incubator room.
6. If airflow in incubators is not uniform humidity may be different from
bottom to top or side to side.
• The free movement of oxygen, carbon dioxide and
water vapor through the pores of the shell is important,
since the developing embryo must be able to take in a
constant supply of oxygen and release carbon dioxide
• Oxygen content of 21% (present in air at sea level) and
a carbon dioxide content not exceeding 0.5% in the air
are considered optimum for good hatching results.
• Room temperature, room humidity, the number of eggs
set, the period of incubation, and the air movement in
the incubator all influence ventilation requirements.
• Ventilation problems are not the same in small
incubators as they are in large incubators, where a
large number of eggs are set in a very small space.
The main ventilation consideration may be
summarized as follows:
1. Ventilation is more important in large incubators than in
2. The amount of ventilation required may be altered by
3. Ventilation is very important in any incubator at hatching
time. Insufficient ventilation may result in embryo or chick
4. Ventilation in excess of the recommended amount may be
applied to reduce temperature or humidity.
5. The appearance of chicks panting in a hatcher at normal
temperature is an indication of a rise in the carbon dioxide
content of the hatcher air. Under such conditions chicks
must breathe faster to obtain the required amount of
oxygen and to eliminate the exceses carbon dioxide. If
excessive panting occurs, increase the airflow in the
Position and Turning of Eggs
• In small incubators, the eggs are maintained in a
horizontal position during the entire incubation period.
• In large incubators eggs should be placed in a vertical
position, large end up, during the hatching period.
• In small incubators, the eggs are moved when turned,
while in large incubators they remain in a stationary
position on the incubator tray and the egg tray is
turned through an angle of not less than 90 in opposite
directions with each turning.
• The objective is the same in both types of incubators;
namely, to prevent the embryo from sticking to the
• Turning also ensures a complete contact of the
embryonic membranes with the food material in the
egg, especially in early stages of incubation.
Other Factors Affecting Incubation
• Egg Selection (hatch as well as eggs of good quality)
• Sanitation (hatching should be clean and stored in clean containers )
• Egg Handling (Rough handling of hatching eggs before they are set will
increase the number of dead embryos)
• Toxicity (the percentage of hatch will be reduced by oxidation of the
• Automatic Equipment (automatic equipment has eliminated many of
the problems with incubators, however, such hazards may occur when
automatic devices fail)
• Egg Candling (Egg candling will detect infertiles and early dead germs)
• (improper fumigation can result in high mortality in developing embrImproper
• Fumigation of Incubators (killing of bacterial organisms by formaldehyde gas )
• Concentration (concentration for effective fumigation is 53 mL of formalin
added to 36g KMnO4) )
• Time (It is not recommended to fumigate setters with hatching eggs in them, but
if such treatment becomes necessary, embryos between 24 and 96 hours of age )
1. Make sure the temperature and humidity of the incubators are at normal
2. Measure the inside volume of the machine in cubic feet or cubic metres
(length x width x height).
3. Close the ventilators, but leave the fans on.
4. Weigh the required amount of potassium permanganate into a wide
enamelware or earthenware vessel large enough to accommodate the
boiling and splattering action experienced when the formalin is added.
Place the vessel and the permanganate in the area to be fumigated; then
add the formalin.
5. Close the door immediately and leave closed for 20 minutes.
6. After 20 minutes, open the ventilators.
7. Open the doors of the machine for five minutes, leaving the fan on to allow
more of the formaldehyde gas to escape, or neutralize it with a 25%
solution of ammonium hydroxide equal to one-half the amount of formalin
used. The hydroxide should be thrown directly on the floor of the machine
and the doors closed. The formaldehyde gas will quickly be neutralized.
Continuous Fumigation of Hatcher
• The greatest increase in bacterial organisms occurs
during the hatching period. These can be reduced,
but not completely eliminated, by slow release of
formalin in the hatcher during the last 48 hours of
the hatching period.
• Do not use permanganate. The pan should be placed
in the open area of the hatcher in direct line with the
• Place the pan of formalin in hatcher 48 hours prior to
hatch completion. To overcome fluff deposited on the
formalin, add more formalin about 24 hours before
hatch is complete to increase evaporation.
Effects of Fumigation
1. Properly carried out, fumigation should not affect
2. Fumigation will only kill bacteria that are present on the
surface of hatchery refuse. Fumigation will not kill bacteria
inside unhatched or pipped eggs. It is important to dispose
of hatchery refuse carefully to minimize hatchery
3. The hatchery room must be separate from the tray dumping
room and from the chick processing area. Air flow and
traffic must be controlled to prevent contamination of the
chick processing and holding areas.
4. Efficient fumigation along with other sanitary measures
should control navel infection (omphalitis).
5. Fumigation is not intended to replace a thorough cleaning
SUMMARY OF SOME IMPORTANT FACTORS
1. Feed breeder flock hatching ration that is well fortified with essential nutrients.
2. Use healthy breeding stock.
3. Provide good egg-holding facilities.
4. Avoid holding eggs in storage for more than one week.
5. Prewarm eggs for 6 to 8 hours at incubator room temperature.
6. Set clean, good quality eggs. Delay setting small eggs (those more than 10% less
than average ) for 8 to 16 hours.
7. Maintain correct incubation temperature, humidity and ventilation. Make sure
air intake does not draw contaminated air into the incubator.
8. Turn hatching eggs frequently.
9. Maintain incubator room temperature between 21 and 24BC with good
ventilation and relatively high humidity.
10. Fumigate regularly.
11. Clean vaccinating and beak trimming equipment. Newly hatched chicks may
pick up contamination and infection in the hatchery from vaccinating and beak
trimming equipment. This equipment requires a very rigid sanitation schedule.
12. Practice strict sanitation; cleanliness is very important for successful hatching
operation. Make sure belts, equipment and workers hands used to move eggs or
newly hatched chicks are kept clean.