Product A: improved conditions for incubating eggs 


chicken-or-egg

1 – Introduction
Facing today’s needs in terms of quality and safety of the product, modern facilities of poultry production has improved essentially by the increasing adoption of new technologies. In the whole poultry production chain incubating eggs represents the origin of the process, as it is responsible of transforming biologically fertile eggs intone day old chicks. In the industrial scale incubator machines are used to reproduce natural bird’s incubation conditions with the objective of increasing at its maximum the hatchability index, quality and uniformity of day old chick and also post-hatch performance.

2 – Objectives
The overall Product A of the Biobusiness Project goal is to achieve optimal incubation conditions to ensure better post-hatching performance considering  animal health and welfare. This Project will focus specifically on physical variables relating to embryonic development and identify the 'optimal' values of those variables also based on monitoring of birds in poultry houses using appropriate technological tools.

3 – Methodology Overview
The methodology concept is based on a control system with feedback information cycle for purposes of obtaining a predictive model. According to the input and output variables of the system will be obtained ‘optimal’ conditions for embryo development in the incubators, transport and post-hatch performance.

Current incubator practice uses a single environmental temperature measurement to control the incubator environment. In more sophisticated cases, eggshell temperature measurements (using the OVOSCANTM measurement device launched by Petersime) are used in this regard. However, this measurement still doesn’t relate to the status of embryonic development or the need (in heat, CO2 or humidity, etc…) of the embryo.
Identification of ‘stages’ will be done invasively and non-invasively using number of techniques. Invasive reference techniques includes gas analysis from air chamber to detect CO2 and O2 concentration, breaking of egg to examine embryo position, weight, and retraction of albumen; and finally blood sampling of embryo to analyze hormones and corticosterone concentrations. On the other hand, by illumination non-invasive measurement will also be performed to quantify internal and external piping.
After incubations, hatched embryos will be further delivered for commercial use. Unhatched or broken eggs will be sterilised and sealed for appropriate biological waste container. Further no other handlings (euthanasia, infection risks, in vitro experiments, etc...) will be performed.

4 – Expected Results
Different stages’ of embryonic development will be identified and synchronization of development within the incubator will be provided to the end of the incubation process. This approach aims both obtaining a narrow hatch window –timeframe wherein all the eggs are hatched- and optimum embryonic development for better day old quality chick and post-hatch performance.
The main result consists of a predictive model for chickens post-hatch performance based on many incubation conditions. If the ‘optimal’ incubator conditions are played so the old day chick quality will be better and also post-hatch performance.
Possible incubation product ideas: Knowledge, data-base, proof of concept and an improved chick quality scoring system, guidelines, technical publications

5 – Partners and Functions

KULeuven
  • Experimental design
  • Development of a predictive model

RVC

  • Effects of incubation on day old quality chicken;
  •  Improved incubation profiles;

Afssa

  • Incubation experiments in large scale for standard and improved conditions
  • Effects of incubation and transportation on post hatch performance

Petersime

  • Equipments e support
  • Transform results in product