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Take into Account Breeder Age in Hatchery Management

06 September 2013

TURKEY - Researchers have investigated the relationship between breeder flock age and hatching time on the performance of chicks to 21 days of age. The chicks of younger breeders hatched earlier and ate less feed in the first three weeks of life.

Breeder age should be taken into consideration in the management of hatching eggs during incubation, concluded Mohamed Ibrahem El Sabry and colleagues at Ege University in Izmir.

They investigated the interaction between breeder age and hatching time as they affect intestine development and broiler performance in a paper published in Livestock Science.

The study was carried out to investigate the effects of breeder age and hatching time on hatching performance, morphological changes in jejunum and post-hatch performances until slaughter age.

A total of 544 eggs were obtained from two Ross broiler breeder flocks at 32 (young) and 49 (old) weeks of age. Eggs from each breeder age were placed in eight egg trays and incubated under standard incubation conditions. Between 480 and 504 hours of incubation, eggs were checked individually to record hatched chicks.

According to hatching time, chicks were marked and divided into two groups as early hatched (EH, from 480 to 485 hours of incubation) and late hatched (LH, from 495 to 500 hours of incubation). Sixteen chicks from each breeder age and hatching time were randomly selected at three hours after hatching, weighed and sacrificed by cervical dislocation. Weights of residual yolk sac, heart, spleen and bursa of Fabricius, lengths of digestive tract, jejunum, and villus height and width were obtained. Hatching performance was determined.

Chicks from each breeder age and hatching time were reared up to 35 days. Body weight and feed intake were recorded weekly, then feed conversion ratio was calculated.

Hatching distribution of the chicks from young breeders was concentrated in the EH stage of the incubation. Chick weight was significantly influenced by hatching time, where LH chicks were heavier than those in the EH group.

Chicks from young breeders had the shortest villus height of any of the other groups when hatched at EH stage of the incubation.

From days 7 to 21, chicks from older breeders hatched at LH had the heaviest body weight than the other groups.

Feed intake of chicks from older breeders was higher than young breeders from 1 to 21 days, while feed conversion ratio was not influenced along the experimental period.


El Sabry M.I., S. Yalçin and G. Turgay-Izzetoglu. 2013. Interaction between breeder age and hatching time affects intestine development and broiler performance. Livestock Science. Available online 7 August 2013.

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