Hatchery automation supplier iD Projects, has been chosen as the technology provider for one of the UK’s leading game bird hatcheries and game farms, Bettws Hall.
ID candling, transfer and counting solutions have been installed at Bettws Hall’s site in Powys, mid Wales, where more than half a million eggs are set each week during the hatching season.
Established as a farm in 1988, family-run Bettws Hall produces pheasant and partridge chicks, poults and duck growers, delivering to around 400 customers throughout the UK and Ireland. Approximately 60% of Bettws Hall’s eggs are produced on the company’s own sites, while 40% are bought in from suppliers in France and America.
Bettws Hall has invested in a new candling and transfer line in preparation for the 2013 hatching season. The compact iD Visio candling machine is capable of processing up to 120,000 eggs per hour. It uses Visio Nerf’s patented artificial vision (AV) detection equipment. This takes more than 1,200 surface measurements across the full surface of the egg top, offering 100% reliable detection and removal of clear and dead embryos.
Operator involvement is minimised by automatically calibrating to different egg sizes and it only touches the eggs to be removed, thereby avoiding potential contamination of good eggs.
In addition, iD Visio gives the option to view graphics of the eggs as they are candled, collecting data via an intranet connection, which can be analysed to provide useful insights into future delivery requirements and egg to chick conversion rates. This enables Bettws Hall to track the flock performance of its suppliers. iD Visio also offers a cleaning system. As well as automatic cup cleaning it automatically detects when the AV equipment needs to be cleaned to continue analysing the eggs accurately.
The new technology and equipment is already delivering many benefits. By being able to remove infertile eggs, Bettws Hall do not require as many hatchers as previously, as now only viable eggs are transferred. Without the new candling and transfer line, it would have been necessary to purchase three new hatchers to cope with increasing throughput.
Hygiene key issue
Richard Crofts, stock and sales manager of Bettws Hall: “Hygiene is understandably a key issue for any hatchery and with the candling system in place, we have been able to eliminate any contamination or bacteria commonly associated with infertile eggs. Before introducing the candling system, we had no means of identifying dead or infertile embryos but now, we can rely on 100% accurate identification and removal of these embryos. This means that we know exactly how many chicks we will be hatching and we are much better prepared for hatch day.”
Bettws Hall has also invested in an additional iD Projects’ four line counting machine at the hatchery, making it possible to count up to 100,000 chicks per hour – currently running at 60,000 chicks per hour. Two staff are tasked with grading the chicks, identifying and removing unformed chicks and egg shell. Once counted – with an accuracy rate of + / – 2 chicks per 1000 – the chicks are secured in boxes of 204 and distributed immediately onto lorries for delivery to customers throughout the UK and Ireland.