Effect of preincubation heating on hatchability

Storage time of fertile eggs affects hatchability and chick survival
calendar icon 17 April 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Storage of fertile eggs is a common practice that allows the broiler industry to synchronize hatchability of eggs coming from different flocks. However, storage time is inversely related with hatchability and chick survival.

Jordan Smith, an undergraduate at Southern Arkansas University, developed an experiment to evaluate the effect of preincubation heating and turning on eggs stored for 10 days. The research was presented at the 2023 International Poultry Scientific Forum.

A total of 400 fertile eggs were collected from a 37-week-old breeder flock. All eggs were divided in four treatments: PC eggs stored for 4 days; NC eggs stored for 10 days; T1 eggs stored for 10 days and turned every 8 hours; T2 eggs stored 10 days, turned every 8 hours, and exposed to preincubation heating at 85 °F for 5 hours at storage day 5.

Chicks were raised for 21 days and body weight, feed disappearance and feed conversion were measured on days 7, 14, and 21. Statistical analyses were conducted using the general linear model of SPSS statistical software version 21.

The highest hatchability was observed in the control group (97% hatchability) followed by T2 (70%); the negative control had 61% hatchability.

Statistical tendencies were observed where birds from T2 tended to have heavier body weight gain compared to NC birds that had the lowest weight gain. Furthermore, a tendency for better feed conversion ratio in birds from T2 was observed, whereas the highest feed conversion ratio was observed in the NC group (P = 0.09).

Preincubation heating may have profound implications in the hatchability and post-hatch performance of broiler chickens and can be used as a method to improve performance, noted Smith.

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