Less than one year ago, a company from the Netherlands, Hatchtech, introduced a new type of hatcher. What is so special about this hatcher? It has food and water in the hatcher so the birds can start eating and drinking immediately after hatching – and not have to wait for all birds to hatch and be transported to the farm!
|Eggs ready to hatch with feed in the back.|
I know that most readers of this blog are not looking for incubators and hatchers that can hatch 70,000 chicks at a time but I was impressed with the novel concept and wanted to share it with my readers. Besides, with a little ingenuity, the concept can probably be incorporated into a small, hobby size hatcher, too!
|Chick drinking its first water in the hatcher basket.|
It is generally accepted that the natural hatch window (the time between the first bird hatching and the last bird hatching) is 24 to 36 hours. Normally, during this period, the newly hatched chicks have no access to water and feed. However, their bodies are in the process of intensive development, during which they need water to prevent dehydration and feed (energy) for basic maintenance and general growth and development.
|Chicks starting to eat while others are still hatching.|
In the special HatchCare Basket, there is water along two sides and feed troughs on two sides which contain enough feed for 24-36 hours. When chicks are able to start eating immediately after hatching, the feed helps move the residual yolk into the intestinal tract, naturally stimulating the absorption of the important nutrients it contains. In this way, the external feed provides the chicks with the energy it needs for basic maintenance, while the high-value nutrition of the yolk can be used for its most important purpose: critical organ and immune system development.
Normally in large hatcheries, the eggs are transferred from incubator trays (where the eggs are held individually) to hatching baskets (where all eggs are loose and lying on their side) before they are placed in the hatcher. With the HatchCare system, however, eggs are not placed loose in a basket, but are individually held - just as in the incubator trays. This prevents eggs from bumping into each other and developing cracks, which can often occur during handling of loose eggs in a basket. The point-down positioning also makes it easier for chicks to pip out of the shell and hatch.
You can see in the egg arrangement that every egg has two openings beside it for the chick to escape to the HatchCare Basket below it.
In addition to food and water, HatchTech also provides a well lit hatcher, which means the chicks experience less stress when the hatcher door is opened and the hatcher is flooded with light. HatchCare also uses fan motors with a noise level that is 18% less than those traditionally used. The sound of the motor, which can also create anxiety in chicks, is reduced to just a soft hum.
The way the HatchCare Tray and HatchCare Basket fit together functions as a natural separator. The shells and unhatched eggs stay in the Tray and the chicks escape to the Basket. This makes the traditional mechanical separator, as well as the counting machine, completely redundant. To determine the number of newly hatched chicks in the HatchCare Basket, simply count the number of unhatched eggs left on the HatchCare Tray. When chicks do not have to be handled or put through automated machines in the processing area, it further reduces the stress effects – and associated energy loss – that chicks experience in traditional systems.
|Chicks starting to hatch. They will drop through the holes to dry in the basket below and start to eat and drink.|
Chicks never have to leave the HatchCare Basket – with its integrated feeding troughs – from the moment of hatching to their arrival in the poultry house. This means it is possible to continue offering them feed and water during storage and transport as well. Chicks hatched and transported with traditional methods in large commercial hatcheries never see feed and water until they arrive at their final destination. We, however, offer GroGel which gives nutrition to the ducklings and goslings of those customers that choose this option.
HatchTech feels that the combination of optimal temperatures, constant access to feed and water, and a generally more comfortable environment leads to healthier and stronger chicks – and this results in a lower mortality rate and a reduced need for antibiotics and other medicine throughout their lifetime.
If you would like to study this method more or are interested in their machines, you can go to the HatchTech website at:
So did you ever think about providing food and water in your hatcher? Unique idea isn't it? I don't even use these machines - but thought them interesting enough to share with you.