Hatchery Management Guide

Hatchery Automation

  1. Because of increasing hatchery size, and increased cost of labor, considerable opportunities may exist for automating many of the labor-intensive operations in hatcheries.
  2. As a broad guide, a staffing level of one employee per one million chicks per year (not including drivers) is the norm without automation, or one employee per two million chicks per year with automation.
  3. Machines are available to:

    a. Grade eggs before setting
    b. Candle and transfer eggs at 18 days
    c. Perform in-ovo vaccination
    d. Separate chicks from debris
    e. Count chicks
     f. Spray, vaccinate and box chicks
    g. Remove debris  
    A range of conveyors, elevators and carousels is available to speed up grading, sexing and other operations which need to be manually performed.

4.   Much of this equipment is precision made and very expensive and only very large hatcheries can justify its use.  Nevertheless, smaller hatcheries can achieve benefits from equipment such as vacumn transfer machines and chick grading carousels, which are inexpensive but deliver considerable productivity benefits.

5.   Productivity improvements are realized by:

     a. Gentler handling of eggs to reduce breakage
     b. More precise vaccination of the chicks
     c. More accurate counting of chicks
     d. Less fatigue on operators and the creation of a better working environment

When selecting equipment, ensure that it can be disinfected easily, quickly and effectively. Egg and chick handling equipment should not contribute to cross contamination between eggs or between chicks.