Incubation Management


The hatchery building should be far away from the breeding farm to prevent disease spread, but if adequate land is not available to separate the hatchery away from the breeder farms, then it should be isolated from the main farm by locating it at one end of the farm land with enclosure around it to prevent the movement of personnel from the farm to the hatchery building. 

Adequate space should be available for future expansion programmes.  Hatchery operations are unsuitable at high altitudes of about 2500 ft. above sea level (MSL) since the oxygen level will be less.

Size of hatchery
1.The size of the hatchery will depend on the following factors.
2.Egg capacity of setters and hatchers.
3.Number of eggs to be set and number of chicks hatched.
4.Future expansion planned.
5.Demand for chicks.

1.The different buildings are:
2.Egg receiving counter
3.Fumigation chamber
4.Egg storage room
5.Egg assembly and traying hall
6.Shower and clothing room
7.Setter and hatcher hall
8.Chick sexing room
9.Tray washing room
10.Packing and despatching room
11.Storage room
12.Administrative office
13.Generator room & electrical control room

Hatchery construction
Hatchery buildings should be well designed, properly constructed and sufficiently ventilated. 
Since all hatchery buildings have false ceiling, any type of roof design may be used and fire proof.

Width of the setter and hatcher room is determined by the type of incubator used. 
The depth of the incubator must be measured and enough space for working in the aisle and behind the machines should be allowed.  With these details total width of the room may be determined.

Side walls
It is advisable to use fireproof materials in constructing the side walls.  The interior should be covered with a glazed non-absorbent finish, since the hatchery interior is being continuously washed and disinfected.
It also helps in preventing mould infestation.  Ceiling height should be 12 ft. with forced draft ventilating system.  Wooden structures are usually avoided.

For all practical purposes the height should be 8 ft. and atleast 4 ft. wide and preferably double-swinging.  At the entrance of the hatchery building where the opening is wide, a sliding door is more practical

Floor construction
All floors must be cement concrete preferably with embedded steel to prevent cracking. 
Glazed finish is preferred with no high or low spots for easy drainage.   The slope should never be greater than 0.5 - 1 inch in 10 ft. 
Trap-type floor drains should be used to prevent clogging of the drains. 
It is estimated that for each 1,08,000 egg capacity incubator, the daily water requirement is about 300 litres for the incubator. 

Hatchery rooms
The hatcheries of medium size will facilitate hatching of chicks in batches 2 times in a week, but large hatcheries may hatch chicks 6 times a week. 
This will determine the size of hatchery rooms.  The following table will show the general recommendations for floor space of the various hatchery rooms when the hatches involved is twice weekly. 
It is better to have larger hatchery rooms than too small.

Egg receiving counter:

Eggs from breeding pen or farm are received here and cleaned.

Fumigation room:
Eggs received are fumigated in a chamber of about 5 feet by 5 feet.  Here fumigation is carried out to destroy the harmful microbes or shell contamination thus increasing hatchability. 
This chamber with a capacity of just 3-4 m3 is sufficient to hold one-day collection.  Fumigation is carried out with formalin and potassium permanganate at 3X concentration. 
The room should have a temperature of 28-30oC, ventilation holes should be there for effective removal of excess formaldehyde gas.
Fumigation is done for 20 minutes and personnel handling fumigation should wear a mask, gloves and other precautions.

Egg holding room or Storage room (Egg cooler Room):

After fumigation and allowing sufficient time, the eggs are shifted to the egg storage room where the average temperature maintained is 13-16oC. 
This temperature varies based on the duration of storage.  It should maintain 70-80% relative humidity to prevent rapid drying of eggs.

Egg assembly and traying hall:
Before setting the eggs in the incubator, eggs should be removed from the storage room and kept under room temperature for 6 hours to allow 'Sweating' of the eggs where water particles condense over the eggs and evaporate. 
The eggs are trayed after this by setting them 'broad end up' in the setter trays and then placed in the setter.
Fumigation should not be done between 12 and 96 hours because it is the period during which embryogenesis begins.  This period is known as the 'Critical period'.

Setter and hatcher hall
The setter and hatcher halls are the two most important rooms in the hatchery.
There must be adequate space around each setter and hatcher for easy operation.  The setters and hatchers should be kept in rows. 
The doors of these rooms should be high and wide enough for easy movement of trolleys with the trays. 
The doors should swing both ways.  The space between each setter and hatcher facing each other should be at least 6 feet and space between two such equipment in a row should be at least 3 feet in distance.
Candling room:
This should be placed in one corner of the setter room.
It should be fully darkened to candle and identify infertile eggs and early embryonic mortality.
Individual candler may be used or a mass candling table may be used.
Candling is done on the 7th and again on 18th day, just before the eggs are transferred to the hatcher compartment.

Chick sexing room:
Here the chicks are sexed.  This is a must in layer hatcheries where the female chicks are sold at a premium price.   This room requires a big table with high stools and clear bright light for the sexers to do either vent or feather sexing.
In a broiler hatchery a separate sexing room is not required as the chicks are sold as 'straight runs' i.e. male and females combined.
After sexing is done, the chicks are vaccinated and then packed in chick boxes and despatched in well designed vehicles.
Sexing Chicks
Vent sexing :
The business of segregating males and females among day-old chicks by examining the rudimentary copulatory organs has become well established.
The sexing of chicks at hatcheries is carried out most extensively in the commercial layer operations.
Success in sexing chicks depends upon one's ability to distinguish the rudimentary copulatory organ or process, which is nearly always present in a well-developed condition in males but is nearly always absent in females. 
A considerable amount of training and experience are needed to enable one to sex chicks with a high degree of accuracy at a fast enough rate to make the undertaking an economic success at most hatcheries. 
So many chick sexers of Japanese origin use this method that it is often referred to as the "Japanese Method" or called vent sexing.

b.   Proctoscopy
By use of a special instrument, a "proctoscope," it is possible to see the testes of male chicks through the intestinal wall of day-old chicks.
This method has been used successfully for day-old chicks and has the advantage of requiring less training and skill than the Japanese method.
Chick sexing is considered to be a hatchery service that must be routinely offered.

c.   Sex linked genes
When sex-linked genes produce characteristics in newly hatched chicks that are readily recognizable, these characters can be used for sex identification. 
The Rhode Island Red x barred Plymouth Rock cross is a good example of this.  The barred Plymouth Rock females carry the gene causing barring. 
The female chicks resulting from the cross of a non-barred male and a barred female would not be barred, since they would not receive the B gene from their mother, while the male chicks would be barred due to the dominance of the B gene received from the female. 
The down of the newly hatched chicks does not show barring, but those that would develop barred feathers at a latter stage have a white spot on the back of the head. 
Thus the males will have the white spot on the head and the females will not. 
They can be sorted easily at hatching and called it as Autosexing.

Another sex-linked gene affects rate of feathering in chicks, and it can be used in the same manner.

 Leghorns and some other breeds are characteristically rapid feathering, whereas most of the American and other heavy breeds are slow feathering.

Slow feathering is dominant to rapid feathering, and if the cross is to be used for sex identification it is necessary to mate rapid-feathering male chicks from such a cross show well-developed primaries and secondaries which not only extend well beyond the down, but which are also longer than the associated wing coverts.

 In the slow-feathering male chicks, by contrast, the primaries are much shorter, are of about the same length as the coverts, and the secondaries are either absent or poorly developed.