In a hatchery – particularly in the setter and hatching trays – ventilation is key to producing a top quality chick. The following four components are essential so chicks get what they need to grow and develop according to their genetic potential: 1. Oxygen. Throughout incubation, chick embryos must have an adequate supply of oxygen so that they can develop fully and properly. Oxygen enters through the shell while carbon dioxide (CO2) escapes in the same manner. 2. Air Exchange. Eggs emit CO2 as they develop, but embryos need oxygen to survive and hatch. Therefore, the air inside a setter must constantly be replaced – bringing in fresh oxygen and removing excess CO2. 3. Air Distribution. It’s important that the air flows evenly so that each room receives the right amount of cool air and oxygen at all times. If you have a unit distributing a certain number of cubic feet per minute (CFMs), placement of the air conditioning unit and ductwork is crucial to make sure fresh air reaches each room at the same rate. There is a register in each setter machine ensure air is distributed in the correct amount of air at all times. 4. Extraction Vans. When chicks hatch, they produce even more CO2 than during incubation. This must be removed from the hatching area via extraction fans. The exhaust goes into a plenum (a small, attached room) where it then exits the building. If a hatchery is bringing in 40,000 CFMs, for example, it must also exhaust 40,000 CFMs to achieve a perfect air exchange, Because hatcheries operate 24 hours a day, the staff is always able to monitor the air exchange and catch any glitches right away, before they become larger issues. Each of these four components helps determine whether embryos will hatch and grow to their genetic potential. With proper oxygen and air exchange, baby chicks are able to thrive and develop correctly. For more information, read our Brooding Guide.