Notebooks
Tips from the Consultants

Our Hatchery Team is opening up their notebooks to share with you some of their most useful pieces of advice. With an average of over 18 years of experience in hatcheries, each team member is full of useful tips and information.

Watch for this series of posts as we dig into their notes for those special tidbits that help to make your hatchery run more smoothly.

Managing Incubation Temperature

Hatcher cabinet temperature, where hatching and dry down take place, is also very important and directly influences the final chick quality. The embryo, future baby chick, has limited heat-regulating capacity. Therefore, they depend on the temperature of their surroundings to maintain their comfort point.

If you’re interested in learning more, please email us at sales@jamesway.com. We would be happy to talk more about how Jamesway can improve your hatchery.

Hatchery excellence. Made easy.

Is your hatchery ventilation system ready for the seasonal changes?

Ventilation serves as the lifeblood of your hatchery. Are you prepared for the upcoming seasonal shifts? As environmental conditions fluctuate, it’s crucial to conduct thorough preventative maintenance and operational checks on your entire ventilation system. This ensures readiness for the impending heating and cooling demands.

Regular checks should encompass maintenance tasks for RTUs, AHUs, boilers, and chillers dedicated to the hatchery. Often overlooked are the outside air references, including associated tubing for each room and plenum. Optimizing HVAC conditions not only enhances machine operation and performance but also minimizes instances of poor hatches.

A well-functioning HVAC system contributes to improved hatchability, chick quality, and overall chick health, positively impacting factors like first-week livability. Stay proactive and ensure your hatchery remains primed for success!

If you’re interested in learning more, please email us at sales@jamesway.com. We would be happy to talk more about how Jamesway can improve your hatchery.

Hatchery excellence. Made easy.

Proper Care of Your Incubation Equipment Sensors

Sensor failures are usually caused by age or excessive wear and tear. Large calibration offsets often indicate an issue with the probe, suggesting that it is no longer as precise as it once was. When cleaning the incubator or hatcher, it is crucial to cover the humidity and CO2 sensors to prevent water saturation. These sensors can be gently cleaned with a damp cloth, but never with a pressure washer, as this will likely shorten their lifespan. If you notice a sudden large offset during calibration, double-check the calibration first. If the large offset persists, consider replacing the sensor.

If you’re interested in learning more, please email us at sales@jamesway.com. We would be happy to talk more about how Jamesway can improve your hatchery.

Hatchery excellence. Made easy.

Hatch Window

How can we achieve the adequate hatch window?

1) Machines must be appropriately sealed, so that all embryos must be started at the same time with rapid temperature rise and uniform heating.
2) Transfer positions must be handled correctly.
3) Stage programs must be effectively set up.
4) Eggshell temperature must be taken during incubation.
5) The hatch window must be monitored with software that helps visualize its progress in real time.
6) Ventilation movement is uniform throughout the egg mass.

If you’re interested in learning more, please email us at sales@jamesway.com. We would be happy to talk more about how Jamesway can improve your hatchery.

Hatchery excellence. Made easy.

Managing Incubation Temperature

Temperature plays a crucial role in embryo growth and cellular differentiation of the future chick. Excessive or insufficient heat may affect chick quality and performance on farms.

That’s why the setter must have adequate:

1. cooling capacity
2. heating
3. ventilation
4. turning mechanisms, with uniformity being one of the main objectives.

If you’re interested in learning more, please email us at sales@jamesway.com. We would be happy to talk more about how Jamesway can improve your hatchery.

Hatchery excellence. Made easy.

Egg Storage Basics

Typical Short-Term Storage \ Single-Stage or Multi-Stage

  • Optimum egg storage temperature: dry bulb 65 – 68 °F (18 – 20 °C).
  • Relative humidity during egg storage should be 75 – 80%.
  • Avoid direct blasts of cooled air onto exposed eggs. Keep the velocity of the recirculating air to a minimum.
  • If eggs are to be held longer than 7 days, lower temperatures are recommended (minimum 58 – 60 °F or 14 – 16 °C).
  • Lower temperatures help slow down the deterioration rate of embryonic cells.
  • Slows down the physical deterioration of the albumen and yolk membranes.
  • Prevent bacterial growth.
  • High humidity around cold eggs will cause condensation on the eggs. Egg sweating is never a good thing.
  • Sweating allows for bacterial contamination.
  • Chilling effect on embryo may lead to early embryo mortality.

If you’re interested in learning more, please email us at sales@jamesway.com. We would be happy to talk more about how Jamesway can improve your hatchery.

Hatchery excellence. Made easy.

Clean Wicks: Essential Maintenance for Optimal Humidity Control

For those hatcheries with Multi-Stage incubators and hatchers or Single-Stage equipment with wet bulb readings for humidity, a clean wick must fit snugly over the wet bulb probe. The water reservoir should be filled with distilled water at regular intervals. If the wick is dirty or does not completely cover the metal probe, inaccurate wet bulb data will be given for humidity control. Wicks should be changed after every hatch in hatchers and weekly in setters.

If you’re interested in learning more, please email us at sales@jamesway.com. We would be happy to talk more about how Jamesway can improve your hatchery.

Hatchery excellence. Made easy.

Why is the floor of my incubator or hatcher wet from cooling coils sweating?

Cooling coils will sweat a little when in use; however, if the floor of your incubator or hatcher is wet from the sweating coils, this should be further investigated. Here are a few things to check if this is happening in your hatchery.

1)  Are the cooling coils sweating, or do you have a leak from one of the connections?
2)  The temperature of the chilled water may be too cold. Refer to the operations manual for your incubator or hatcher to determine the proper temperature range for the chilled water.
3)  The flow rate through the coils is too fast. Again, refer to the operation manual to determine the proper flow rate through the chilled water coils.
4)  It could be a leaking solenoid valve allowing excess chilled water through the coils even when the machine is not calling for cooling. The easiest way to check this is when the machine is not calling for cooling; check the chilled water coils to see if they are cold.  Excessive cooling through a leaky solenoid valve, too cold-water temperature, or too high a flow rate through the coils will create temperature fluctuations within the machine. Most likely, you will see additional heating that we do not want to see, therefore further exacerbating the situation. This instability will increase your hatch window in addition to creating hot and cold spots in your machine. If you notice excessive sweating, this should be a red flag and needs to be investigated.

If you’re interested in learning more, please email us at sales@jamesway.com. We would be happy to talk more about how Jamesway can improve your hatchery.

Hatchery excellence. Made easy.

Jamesway Platinum Touch Screen Pause and Recalibration

From time to time, you may experience a Platinum touch screen that ‘pauses’ or ‘freezes’. If this happens don’t worry the machines is still running as normal. There is no need to replace the touch screen or worry about lost data. If this happens, below is a quick way to solve the problem of the touch screen pausing during operation.

  • Touch screen needs to be recalibrated
  • Turn off power, then turn back on
  • While Platinum boot logo is shown, keep tapping finger on the screen until a white screen appears.
  • When target on white screen appears, press finger as close to center of target as possible and release
  • Repeat with the next 4 targets shown

If you continue to have problems, follow the trouble shooting guide found in the manual.

If you’re interested in learning more, please email us at sales@jamesway.com. We would be happy to talk more about how Jamesway can improve your hatchery.

Hatchery excellence. Made easy.

Heat Index (H.I.)

Do you notice your birds exhibiting heavy panting, or gular fluttering, in the hatcher before removal? This behavior can be attributed to overheating and the heat index.

The heat index (H.I.), also referred to as the apparent temperature, accounts for how the temperature feels when combined with relative humidity. This is a critical factor in ensuring the comfort of hatchlings.

When we humans get hot, we sweat. Birds, on the other hand, can not sweat so they employ a different mechanism for cooling down. They open their beaks and breathe heavily, allowing air to rush in and facilitate the evaporation of moisture in their lungs, throat, and mouths. This process, known as “evaporative cooling,” helps them dissipate heat and maintain a comfortable body temperature. However, when the moisture content in the air is high, birds tend to pant heavily to void themselves of excess heat, which can cause stress to the hatchlings. You may also observe an excess of meconium, often referred to as “poo,” in the baskets; this is another way birds cool themselves.

To maintain a comfortable environment for holding birds in the hatcher after the hatch is complete, aim for a heat index of around 105°F. To the right, you’ll find suggested settings to help you achieve this target.

If you’re interested in learning more, please email us at sales@jamesway.com. We would be happy to talk more about how Jamesway can improve your hatchery.

Hatchery excellence. Made easy.

The OAR (Outside Air Reference)

To properly pressurize a room, pressures must be measured relative to a reference pressure. In most hatchery applications, this reference is the outside air pressure. If the reference pressure is an adjacent room or hallway, such as with a plenum, then the reference pressure to that measurement should be outside air.

The OAR is critical to the proper operation of the hatchery ventilation system, yet it is often overlooked. Do you know where your OAR is at your hatchery? Do you know how each room and plenum is referenced? When was the last time it was checked? Spider webs, insect nesting, and moisture can all negatively impact the operation of the OAR. On windy days, do you have rooms that are over pressurized or do you have rooms that are under pressurized?  Then you need to check your OAR and the tubing or piping from your rooms pressures sensors to the OAR. If your room pressures are off, then in most cases your plenum pressures will be off since in most hatcheries the plenums are referencing to the room.

What is the importance of proper room and plenum pressures in the hatchery?

If a room is showing a positive pressure, the volume of air supplied to the room is greater than the volume of air removed from the room through extractor fans, incubators, or hatchers. If the room or plenum is at a negative pressure the air supplied to the room is less than the volume of air being removed from the room or plenum. Incubators and hatchers are all designed to operate within a certain pressure differential range between the intake air and exhaust air. If this pressure differential is too high or too low through the incubator or hatcher, this will impact the performance of the equipment and negatively affect embryo development.

If the pressure readings fluctuate too much, check the OAR:

  • Outside air references mounted to the side of the hatchery is not ideal. If you have wind blowing directly against this wall, it will negatively impact this air reference creating large fluctuations within the room.
  • Ideally, we want to place the outside air reference on the roof of the hatchery above any obstacles. It is important to use a proper outside air reference designed for this specific task verses running a tube to the outside of the building and placing it into a box mounted to the side wall of the hatchery.
  • The proper outside air reference has the pickup port mounted at least 12 inches above surrounding obstacles so that you get a true static pressure reading. Mount the unit with the bottom plate parallel to the earth’s surface. The OAR reference should be mounted so that is unobstructed by the building or any other equipment, with an unobstructed view of the horizon. It should not be mounted under awnings, near intakes, exhaust fans, or economizers.
  • The next thing that needs to be inspected is the reference tubing itself. This tubing can become brittle and loosen from the connections over time. It is always good to inspect the OAR and tubing every six months to make sure everything is working properly. An important note is to have as few as possible connections from the OAR to the pressure sensors. The more connections the more chance of increased issues with the connections.

If the room or plenum pressure is not what is expected, check:

  • Calibration of the room and plenum references.
  • Outside reference as mentioned above.
  • Room air inlets and filters for any obstructions or dirty filters.
  • HVAC air inlets and filters for any obstructions or dirty filters.
  • Dampers on the HVAC equipment.
  • Fan speeds, fan belts, and fan blades on the HVAC equipment and on the extractor fans.

Your ventilation system is the fuel for your hatchery. It provides the oxygen needed for metabolism and dilutes or removes metabolic pollutants such as carbon dioxide, humidity, and odor. No matter the size of the hatchery or the species being hatched, controlled air pressures are critical to the success of the incubation and hatching process.

If you’re interested in learning more, please email us at sales@jamesway.com. We would be happy to talk more about how Jamesway can improve your hatchery.

Hatchery excellence. Made easy.

Practical Advice for when to perform SPIDES Treatment(s)!

Maximize the benefits of SPIDES (Short Periods of Incubation During Egg Storage) with these helpful tips:

  • If holding hatching eggs over 10 days from point of lay, perform one SPIDES treatment between 5-6 days from lay date.
  • When holding hatching eggs over 15 days from point of lay, provide two SPIDES treatments:
    1. Give treatment between 5-6 days from lay date
    2. Give second treatment between 10-12 days from lay date
  • In the event hatching eggs will be held longer than 21 days from date of lay, provide at least two and consider a third SPIDES treatment
    1. Give first treatment between 5-6 days from lay date
    2. Give second treatment between 10-12 days from lay date
    3. Give third treatment between 15-18 days from lay date

Implementing these guidelines takes full advantage of the benefits of SPIDES to improve the hatchability and chick quality of your hatching eggs with prolonged storage times.

If you’re interested in learning more, please email us at sales@jamesway.com. We would be happy to talk more about how Jamesway can improve your hatchery.

Hatchery excellence. Made easy.

Advantages & Disadvantages to SPIDES

What are the advantages and disadvantages of SPIDES?

Advantages

  • Allows for long term egg storage with reduced losses in hatchability
  • Allows for long term egg storage with good chick quality
  • Narrows your hatch window, you can now set eggs with 4 and 14 days of storage in the same machine with much tighter hatch window
  • Lowers embryo mortality due to long storage
  • Allows for large orders with a smaller number of breeder birds

Disadvantages

  • Increased labor/man hours to handle eggs and treat the eggs
  • Can complicate the egg flow in the egg storage room

If you’re interested in learning more, please email us at sales@jamesway.com. We would be happy to talk more about how Jamesway can improve your hatchery.

Hatchery excellence. Made easy.

Hatchery Set Points

Most hatcheries have a specific set point for their hen houses, farm egg packing rooms, farm egg storage rooms, egg transport vehicles, and their egg storage rooms. In the diagram below, we outline the best practices for set points at each stage of production. Typically, each stage of production should be cooler than the previous stage, where the hatchery egg storage room is the coolest point in this process. If you encounter fluctuations where certain points are warmer or cooler, the V shaped flow chart attached below is not being followed, the embryo will begin to weaken which can result in higher early embryonic mortality. We strongly encourage anyone with an above normal early embryonic mortality rate (higher than 3% of fertile eggs) to review this process. The specific temperature at each level is not necessarily the primary focus however, the most important aspect is that each stage is cooler than the previous stage. Depending on the temperature in your environment, it is best to routinely revisit this chart and evaluate your practices.

It is also important to pay close attention to egg sweating, as this is not good for the egg and needs to be avoided. High humidity around cold eggs is what causes condensation. Condensation or sweating eggs can create the perfect environment for bacteria penetration and can also create a chilling effect on the embryo resulting in higher early embryonic mortality.

If you’re interested in learning more, please email us at sales@jamesway.com. We would be happy to talk more about how Jamesway Incubators can improve your hatchery.

Jamesway, Hatchery excellence. Made easy.

Hatchery Set Point V-Chart
Egg Storage Method- Reducing Deterioration

Turning the eggs during storage helps reduce the deterioration effects that come with long-term storage. This allows the developing embryo to be in contact with fresh albumen which is vital to optimal embryonic development. This is particularly useful for storage of eggs from older breeder flocks and where storage times are longer than fourteen days. Those who practice this will either turn the trays on the racks by hand or will have air hook ups in the egg storage room to aid in the turning of the racks. If you choose to use this method, we advise turning the eggs three times per day, in the morning, midday, and late afternoon. As another general rule, when setting eggs that are stored longer than five days, it is important to add one hour of incubation time for each additional day of storage.

Many of the Jamesway incubators offer worry free pneumatic on trolley turning, active on each trolley, to ensure a consistent turning angle on every tray reducing the need for manual labor and ultimately saving costs in your hatchery. If you’re interested in learning more about the Jamesway on trolley turning, please email us at sales@jamesway.com. We would be happy to talk more about how Jamesway Incubators can improve your hatchery.

Jamesway, Hatchery excellence. Made easy.

Egg Storage Method- Temperature Reduction 

As a hatchery manager, I am sure you have encountered a time where you must store eggs longer than you want due to various reasons. We know this increase in storage days will negatively impact our hatchability and chick quality. So, what can you do to help improve the situation that you are now facing?

With traditional storage methods, you will not prevent a reduction in hatchability or chick quality but help slow down this deterioration rate. The first thing you can do is reduce the temperature in your hatchery egg storage room.  As we store hatching eggs for increased lengths of time, we lower the temperature and raise the humidity. Doing both of these not only helps to preserve the embryo stability but preserves the integrity of the yolk and albumen while reducing moisture loss through the shell.  

The chart featured in the image is typically recommended for the hatchery egg storage room based on days of egg storage and the temperature of the oldest eggs you are holding. This is by far the easiest way and typically what most people do if they are storing eggs for a longer period. 

Hatch Window

In incubation, the term hatch window is used quite frequently. The hatch window is described as the time between the first surge of chicks hatching and when the hatching process is completed.  This should be 20-24 hours, which is the same as what happens naturally under broody hens.  In commercial incubators, It can be found using the humidity reading on a hatcher and by incubation equipment software. Hatch window is important in order to identify if the hatch is being pulled at the correct time and if the temperature and humidity are adequate in the setters and hatchers. It also shows whether these two parameters, along with the ventilation, have been uniform during the entire incubation and hatching process.

There are several factors that can influence the hatch window.

  • Breeder characteristics- health status, age, and genetic line
  • Characteristics of the eggs- shell conductance, egg size, storage days and level of embryo development when the eggs are set
  • Environment of the eggs- temperature, humidity, ventilation uniformity and stage program (which includes the breeder farm, egg transportation, storage room and incubation process

The Gap!

Here is a “handy” tip from the Hatchery Consulting Team.

We all know how important turning eggs is to proper machine operations and to the developing embryo. But how can we easily determine turn angle in our setters? If you can’t tell if you have a good turn angle use your fist!

Your fist should fit between the vertical tray support bars. This is roughly 4 inches, which should be close to a 45-degree turn angle. Works in both single-stage and multi-stage Jamesway and Chick Master machines.

No tool bag required.

Moisture Loss

During the incubation process, an egg needs to lose sufficient moisture in order to create an air cell where the embryo will make its first pip where it will begin pulmonary respiration. The ideal moisture loss is approximately 11-12% at the time of transfer, or an average 0.6% per day (Single Stage incubation ideally should be 9-10%)

When chicks are hatching with inadequate moisture loss, the problem can disguise itself as incorrect incubation temperature, humidity or ventilation issues as well as others. When eggs achieve the proper moisture loss, the air cell should occupy about 1/3 of the egg at transfer.  Location of pipping on the eggshell is another good indicator of proper moisture but can, at times, be subjective.  Proper air cell size is important for the 18-day old embryo to be orientated in the correct position for pipping and hatching. If the air cell is too small, this can impede the developing chick from attaining its ideal position, consequently the chick will have difficulty locating the air cell during the pipping process. If the embryo is not able to internally pip into the air cell, the embryo will not be able to complete the external pipping process and will most likely die.

If you’re unsure how to obtain the proper moisture loss, follow this formula:

% Moisture loss = Full egg tray weight at set – Full egg tray weight at transfer X 100

Full egg tray weight at set – Empty egg tray weight

Calibrate!

All too often we find hatchery equipment calibrations being performed with instruments that have not themselves been calibrated for a long time or ever. The hatchery equipment does not know it is out of calibration and is trying to maintain the desired set points, therefore the equipment is maintaining an incorrect set point, causing hatchability and quality issues. Without verifying the calibration instruments themselves, you can chase and troubleshoot the wrong solutions, trying to solve the hatch issues.

Fertile vs. Infertile

For proper analysis of hatch results, we need to accurately identify a fertile and an infertile egg. Remember, embryo growth will begin at the site of fertilization, or the germinal disc, and will continue to grow outward in an organized manner to form a ring, or donut shape. An infertile egg will maintain a tight, compact appearance at the germinal disc on the yolk.

If you have a high number of clear eggs from a flock or rack/buggy, it doesn’t mean the eggs are infertile. Remember not all clear eggs are infertile. However, if ’clear eggs’ are greater than 2.5-3%, this will need to be further investigated.

Possible causes of clear eggs: Infertile, very early embryonic mortality, Egg handling issues (Eggs held improperly – temperature fluctuation, rough handling; Eggs held too long; Too much egg fumigation), This can be a point of contention between the hatchery and breeder departments. However, what is truly important is the determination of fertility or not. If we have good fertility from a breeder flock, then we can troubleshoot other areas such as egg handling practices. If we just assume it is a fertility problem, we will never get to the root cause of the clear egg issue and poor hatch. So, it is extremely important to verify whether we have a fertility problem first, then begin to troubleshoot the egg handling practices thereafter.