Hatchery researcher Sander Lourens (Wageningen Livestock Research) and ESBL specialist Kees Veltman (Wageningen Bioveterinary Research) examined the differences between chicks hatched in the hatchery and those hatched in the barn using the One2Born technique. The results make for interesting reading. This article looks at part one: the study design and the hatching phase.
Poultry researchers Sander Lourens of Wageningen Livestock Research and Kees Veltman of Wageningen Bioveterinary Research carried out a practical study in February and March 2018. Sander explains the research. ‘As part of the research, half of the fertilized eggs were transported to the farmer on day 18, and hatched in the One2Born hatchholders in the barn. The other half of the eggs hatched in the hatchery and were transported as one-day-old chicks to the same farmer.’
The researchers set out four research questions:
- What is the embryo survival rate for the chicks that hatched in the barn and those that hatched in the hatchery?
- What is the hatching curve, what is the temperature of the chicks, and how quickly do the chicks fill their crop?
- What is the level of infection from ESBL and E.coli in the hatchery and in the barn, and do chicks hatching under the One2Born concept have a lower infection rate?
- Can chicks that hatch early during transport escape from the One2Born hatchholder?
No chicks able to escape
A total of 16,160 eggs were distributed across 202 hatchholders (80 eggs per tray) and transported in One2Born. The control group consisted of 12,851 one-day-old chicks, which were transported to the farmer. All eggs and chicks were placed in the same barn, divided into twelve different sections. Six of these section contained chicks that hatched in the barn and the other six sections contained chicks from the hatchery.
The eggs and chicks were transported to the barn – the journey lasting two hours – under the standard prescribed conditions, after which the eggs and chicks were placed in the barn straight away. To investigate whether the eggs and chicks were fully protected while being transported and while hatching, the One2Born hatchholders were stacked on top of each other during transport. Two hatchholders were stacked on top of each other in each section. Chicks from the top hatchholder could dry out after hatching, and access feed and water immediately; chicks from the bottom hatchholder stayed there until day 21. No chicks were able to escape. The chicks looked well and were able to walk steadily after day 21.
By the time the eggs arrived, the barn had been preheated to 35 °C, with a floor temperature of 30 °C. The floor was covered with 1 to 2 cm of litter (peat). The aim was to warm the eggs to an ideal shell temperature of 37.8 °C on day 18 – a simple task according to One2Born.
In the barn, the poultry farmer was keeping a close eye on the eggs hatching. Every four hours, the farmer noted down the number of eggs hatched and temperature of the eggs that had not yet hatched. ‘The results show that 95% of the One2Born chicks hatched within 24 hours. We observed a nicely uniform pattern in the hatching. There were no extreme outliers.’ There was also a high survival rate of the embryos; the chicks under the One2Born concept even did 1% better than those in the hatchery.