Within the Jamaica Broilers Group of Companies, the region’s largest poultry operation, a broiler hatchery is a vital link in the production chain. The operations of the Best Dressed Chicken Hatchery are designed to make the production of baby chicks both an efficient and healthy process. How do we do this? Let’s walk you through the process:
Egg Receival / Egg Room
Hatching eggs are selected and ocean freighted from our USA-based International Poultry Breeders, as well as from Jamaica Poultry Breeders . The eggs are then transported to the BDC Hatchery in refrigerated trucks.
The quality assurance team ensures that the hatching eggs are:
- Free from debris and dirt
- Between 50 and 65 grams in weight and uniformed in size
Eggs are trayed and placed in buggies, for setting in the incubators. It is not always practical to set eggs as soon as they arrive because of the setting schedule, which is determined by placement and processing.
Cool eggs are warmed slowly to room temperature, before being placed in the incubators.
Sanitation of the egg room is critical. At the end of each egg traying day, all traying tables and floors are therefore washed thoroughly with an approved disinfectant solution.
Setter Rooms & Setters
- Eggs are placed in setters for 18 days and are transferred on the 19th day in the hatchers. The parameters are maintained to ensure maximum hatchability. Temperature control during incubation is critical as it affects the rate of chick development, chick quality and microbial growth. The optimum temperature is 99.5 ° F.
- Humidity is carefully controlled to prevent unnecessary moisture loss from the eggs. The device used to measure humidity is the hygrometer, which gives readings as “degrees wet bulb”. These are further converted to relative humidity by using tables. High humidity will cause condensation and microbial growth. If the humidity is above or below standard, an engineer will immediately correct the problem. Monthly humidity checks are done by an engineer and a copy of the report sent to Quality Assurance.
- Ventilation is very important during the incubation process. While the embryo is developing, oxygen enters the egg through the shell and carbon dioxide escapes in the same manner. It is important that vents are properly adjusted and kept unobstructed at all times. Turning is essential as it ensures that the embryo does not stick to the shell, and also reduces the incidence of “star-gazing”. Eggs are turned 90 ° at one hour intervals daily.
- The setter room is a clean and restricted area and therefore only authorized persons should enter this area.
- Candling of eggs is done on each flock to determine the fertility of breeder flocks. Eggs are candled at 8 to 14 days and this allows the hatchery manager to determine the extent of fertile eggs of `live’ embryos, as against infertile and early dead.
- After each transfer, the setter room and corridor are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Thereafter, an approved disinfectant is applied to the walls and floors. These are rotated periodically.
- Setters are fogged, using an approved disinfectant, after new eggs have been set or transferred.
Hatchers and Hatcher Rooms
After being transferred from the setters, the incubating eggs spend its final three days in the Hatcher:
- Temperature: A standard of 98.5 ° F is maintained, as too high temperatures can result in early hatch, dehydration, unhealed navels and decreased hatchability.
- Humidity: This is maintained at 85 – 90 ° F wet bulb, as this allows the chick to easily pick and break through the eggshell.
- Ventilation: We check this monthly to ensure that the system is working properly and that the chicks are receiving adequate supplies of oxygen, without a build up of carbon dioxide.
- Removal of Chicks : Chicks are pulled from the hatchers when they are still 10 – 12% wet on the back of the neck. This reduces the chance of dehydrating the early hatching chicks.
- Sanitation: The hatcher is the main source of contamination for the whole hatchery. Debris, dead chicks and chick fluff are ideal breeding sites for bacteria and fungi in the warm and humid hatchery environment and this contamination is easily spread by air currents, personnel and equipment. We therefore pay strict attention to cleaning, disinfection and handling procedures.
Chick Processing and Holding Room
Chicks are pulled from hatchers and moved to the Processing Room, where grading takes place.
- Temperature: Inside the chick holding area, the chicks are held in crates where temperatures are maintained at between 78 and 80 ° F;
- Humidity: The desired humidity maintained to prevent dehydration is between 55 and 65%;
- Chick selection: Selected chicks are free from physical defects, uniform in size, alert, strong and active; their legs are yellow and well fleshed, navels well healed and free from bacterial infection;
- Vaccination: In order to enhance bird health, proper vaccination is necessary. Vaccinators are checked frequently to determine if adequate vaccine is being discharged