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In-Barn Hatch Better For Chicks And Owners
Hatching chicks in the barn where they’ll be raised is paying off in multiple ways for a group of New Brunswick poultry producers. They’ve adopted a hatching system that has been in use in Europe for some time. It eliminates the need to ship live chicks.
“We tried it for animal health and welfare reasons,” says Marco Volpe, Groupe Westco. “We were looking for a way to minimize stress to the birds and give them access to feed and water faster. We found we got a better hatch, lower flock mortality and better gain. We were expecting these results because that’s what producers were seeing in Europe.”
The company was formed by six poultry producers. They produce 50 million lbs. of broiler chickens a year and have laying hens that produce 14 million fertilized eggs per year.     
The eggs are transported to the company hatchery where they are incubated for 18 days. Then they leave the incubation chamber and are vaccinated, placed in baskets, and transferred to the production farms where the company has installed a hatching system called X-Trect.
The baskets are placed on the X-Trect slatted platform just above the floor. As the chicks hatch, they drop through the slats onto the floor where they find feed and water. When hatching is complete, the platform with baskets and egg debris is raised to the ceiling for cleanout.
Volpe says confidence in the new system is high. “We have conducted more than 100 trials of 9,000 chicks each,” he says. “We compared them to eggs from the same breeder flocks, same feed, same everything, and we got a 2 1/2 percent better hatching rate.”
That equates to 22,500 more live chicks just from the trials. Multiplied out against the 14 million fertilized eggs produced, if the system is adopted company-wide, live chick numbers would jump by 350,000.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Groupe Westco, 9, rue Westco, Saint-Francois, N. B. Canada E7A 1A5 (ph 506-992-3112; info@groupewestco.com; www.groupewestco.com).

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #2