During the recently held VIV Europe in the Netherlands, a VIV innovation award was granted to Hatch-Tech for their new and innovative HatchCare technology.
This is a hatcher in which newly hatched chicks have immediate access to feed and water in an environment with fresh air and LED illumination.
In a regular hatcher, chicks hatch within a specific "hatch window". During this period, it is a generally accepted practice that these chicks will have no access to feed or water.
However, their bodies are in the process of intensive development, during which they need water to prevent dehydration and feed (energy) for basic maintenance and general growth. The new HatchCare hatcher provides the conditions to support this development process. Chicks are hatched under optimal and uniform temperature conditions, resulting in high hatching ratios and chick quality.
In the HatchCare system, eggs in the hatching stage are put in a special setter tray (Care Tray) on top of a basket (Care Basket). These combined trays and baskets are moved into the hatcher. Once the chicks hatch, they enter the Care Basket via one of the many open spaces (egg-its) on the Care Tray. Here they can move around freely, thanks to the fact that the basket contains no unhatched eggs or empty shells. Compared to traditional systems, the chicks have 40% more space.
In the basket, there are feed troughs on two sides, which contain enough feed for 24-36 hours. In this way, the external feed provides the chicks with the energy it needs for basic maintenance, while the high-value nutrition of the yolk can be used for its most important purpose: critical organ- and immune-system development.
This new system supplies the early hatched chicks with the basic necessities of life: feed, water and fresh air, along with improved living conditions, from hatch to the poultry house. This fits well with modern demands for more animal-welfare-friendly production.
The way the Care Tray and Care Basket fit together functions as a natural separator. This makes the traditional automatic separator, as well as the counting machine, redundant. For chicks this means a reduction of stress effects and associated energy loss, which in turn can be used for better development and growth.
Chicks don't need to leave the Care Basket with its integrated feeding troughs, from the moment of hatching to their arrival in the poultry house. This means it is possible to continue offering them feed and water (in gel form) during storage and transport as well.
To conclude, according to Hatch-Tech, the new HatchCare system delivers higher hatchability rates and stronger chicks. Also it said to be a significant step forward to more animal-friendly poultry production.