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.

Easily check your rotation angle

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.


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.


Moisture Loss

As a hatchery manager are you considering the significance that moisture loss plays in the success of your hatch? Here’s a refresher on its importance:

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.

Optimal hatchability and day-old chick quality are all dependent on proper moisture loss among other metrics. Obtaining moisture loss data in your hatchery is just as important today as it ever has been.

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

If you are still seeing inconsistent results, reach out to your hatchery specialist at Jamesway for more tips and troubleshooting ideas.