Loading the setter room

How to load the setter room without causing overheating.
calendar icon 23 September 2022
clock icon 3 minute read

Last year, I was in a hatchery that had been operational for just a month or two and that had a problem with the alarms on the setters for advanced embryos, which kept going off. As I investigated the alarm, it became clear that the temperature could not be kept at set point.

I quickly realised what was going on. As the hatchery had gradually started up, they had developed a routine that was now causing problems. The setters were loaded in chronological order, so first setter 1, then setter 2 on the same day; the next day the neighbouring setters were loaded, and so on. At first sight, this would seem to be very logical, as it is easy to work out where you have to go in the setter room for the youngest and the oldest embryos. However, the downside to this routine came to light when the first setters had been running for 16 to 18 days. All of the setters containing advanced embryos were in the same area of the setter room and, as these embryos produce a lot of heat, the setters require a lot of cooling water. With so many setters close to each other demanding sufficient cooling water, there was an issue of competition and some setters barely got enough and were therefore at risk of overheating. Of course, whether this happens or not depends a lot on the cooling water temperature and pressure as well as on the diameters of the supply and return pipes to and from the incubator.

However, it is possible to avoid the issue altogether. I explained to the hatchery manager that this can be easily achieved by skipping a few setters in the row when loading the next setter. In this way, it is possible to create an embryo age difference between neighbouring setters of five to seven days, and therefore balance the embryonic heat production throughout the setter room.

As they had started incorrectly in this new hatchery, we had to sit down and come up with a plan to rectify the situation that involved the least amount of work and disturbance. Then, all we had to do was get some help from a few workers to exchange trolleys between multiple machines. The next day, there were no more high temperature alarms and the setters were able to easily maintain the set points without demanding too much cooling activity.

When I returned to the hatchery a few months later and entered the setter room, I couldn’t help but smile. You would think it was someone’s birthday, as each door handle was decorated with a coloured ribbon – blue, green or red – evenly spread out through the setter room. The hatchery manager explained that this helped him to communicate the colour system with his staff, who then knew which colour’s turn it was for transfer.

Martin Barten

Senior Hatchery Specialist, Pas Reform Academy
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