Effects of Hatch Window and Nutrient Access in the Hatcher on Performance and Processing Yields of Broilers Reared with Equal Hatch Window Representation
The objective of this experiment was to investigate the effects of feed and water availability in hatching baskets on broiler performance, processing yield, and organ weights while considering the influence of hatch window. Cobb 500 eggs were transferred into illuminated hatchers with two hatching basket types [control (CTL) hatching baskets with no nutrients provided or baskets containing feed and water (FAW)]. Chicks were pulled sequentially to establish four hatch window periods (HWP):
... eriods (HWP): early, pre-peak, post-peak, or late. Chicks were then held for 4 h at the hatchery without nutrient access and subsequently reared in 26 floor pens designated as CTL (n = 13) or FAW (n = 13), with 13 chicks from each of the 4 HWP per pen (52 chicks per pen). At 43 d, 16 males from each pen were processed. Chicks from FAW baskets were 1 g heavier (p < 0.001) than those from CTL baskets at placement and were heavier through 28 d (p = 0.003) but similar (p > 0.05) in body weight (BW) for the remainder of the 42 d. No differences (p > 0.05) in feed conversion ratio, mortality, or processing data were observed between CTL and FAW groups. Early-hatching chicks were lighter (p < 0.001) than those from all other HWP at placement, but were only lighter (p < 0.001) than the post-peak group by 42 d. In summary, it was found that hatching basket nutrient access increased the BW of broilers during the first 4 wk of growth, with no other effects on performance or yield. Also, earlier-hatching chicks were generally able to compensate for a lighter placement BW.