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How can hatchery-breeder operations stay ahead of the game?

A recent USPOULTRY clinic held in Nashville, Tennessee for hatchery-breeder managers found that consistent performance and attention to detail are the keys to successful hatchery businesses.

10 August 2021, at 8:00am

Hatchery and breeder professionals recently gathered in Nashville, Tennessee for a two-day clinic, sponsored by USPOULTRY, which discussed best practices and industry concerns in hatchery-breeder management. A variety of topics were presented by experts from across the industry.

Ben Green, director of production for US hatcheries at Cobb-Vantress, gave a presentation on ways in which the incubation process can affect chick quality and how to establish procedures to maintain consistent quality within an operation. “Everyone is going to have different factors that they prefer to look for when they are determining chick quality. Everyone has different opinions,” explained Green. “What is important is consistency. Establish procedures and processes that are consistent day-to-day when monitoring quality at your hatchery.”

Daren Rakestraw, technical manager for Aviagen, shifted the focus to male management, detailing how to maintain a good male to hen ratio within a flock and ensure that mating habits are encouraged for consistent fertility rates. “Maintaining hatch levels is important, and male management is a vital part of that,” Rakestraw commented. “There are a lot of things to consider that influence the overall success of a hatchery. If you find yourself slipping with any one of them, including male management, you’ll see yourself falling behind.”

In his presentation on egg handling, Adam Black, technical services manager for Aviagen, echoed Rakestraw’s comments on the need for managers to consistently monitor multiple factors. “In order to have good, clean hatching eggs, you need to maintain a good nest environment, maintain correct room temperatures, keep eggs safe and secure during pickup and delivery – the list goes on,” said Black. “You constantly have several factors impacting your end results, and they all need to be monitored properly for success.”

In a dual presentation on chick delivery, Tom Arnold, systems analyst for Smithway, and Kelsey Held, hatchery manager for Pilgrim’s, explained how transport is a critical piece in maintaining chick quality, thus requiring the same amount of care and attention to detail expected within the hatchery. Arnold’s presentation concentrated on transport equipment that can be used to mitigate damage, specifically focusing on the importance of air conditioning to maintain air flow. Held took a broader overview, discussing ways in which transport can either help or hinder health, performance and quality in the chicks.

“It was great to be back at an in-person USPOULTRY seminar with colleagues. This year’s Hatchery-Breeder Clinic provided attendees with an engaging selection of presentations, helping them increase performance and quality at their hatchery and breeder operations,” said Adam Rutledge, breeder manager at Mountaire Corporation, and program committee chairman.