Innovations in the Hatchery: Early Feeding Benefits
[00:50] welcome everyone, this is M take accelerate. My name is Nikolay Shchetikhin, and I have Jim Johnson with me. And of course, we have a guest here. As you can see, we have Ron Meyerhoff. How you doing, guys?
[01:25] So Ryan, we were really excited to talk to you today. You’re an independent broiler breeder hatchery, consultant, you, you’ve been in the industry for a long time, you travel the world, you’ve got experience of, you know, reproduction in the poultry industry across the globe. And that’s some of these subjects we’d love to speak to you about today.
[01:48] Yep, yep. Yeah. And really happy to have you Ron. And before we go into the topic of today’s AGcelerate, which will be latest developments in the hatchery technology, we want to hear a little bit about your story, how you started with, with the chickens, and you know, a little bit of your path and why you still here,
[02:10] like anybody in the industry you start by coincidence, I don’t think a lot of people really choose to work with chickens, but you get trapped into it, and then you never leave. So I started in 1987, or 98, something like that, because I wanted to do research. And the only job available was research with chickens for a temporary job. And then your boss leaves and you take his position, and then your new boss leaves and you take his position. And then 30 years later, you find yourself still being in industry for 35 years later. So I started in research. And then I found out that being a scientific researcher with a bachelor degree was not very sufficient. So then I did my PhD on egg storage, because storage and incubation because that was very short term experiments and not the 60 weeks that you do in broiler breeders, which was really my job. I needed something go quick. That was incubation. And even next door it goes even quicker than that. And then from that I moved first habit for one year and no two years, and then I moved to hybrow. And then when hybrow was sold, I moved to hatchtech for two years. And then after hedge tech I decided that the only boss I really wanted was my wife. Later on, I found out that my daughter would be the boss also. So but okay, that’s my story. And then 12 years ago, I started my own company as a consultant. And here I am.
[03:51] So interesting journey, isn’t it? Yeah. that the real reason that we wanted to explore some of the this discussion, there’s this AGcelerate episode with you Ron was to get your take on some of the newer technologies or new practices being adopted in the, in the hatchery environment for poultry. And you know, it’d be quite good to get your take and just talk through and describe what some of these terms mean. So the first one that we want to talk about is really early feeding this this kind of, it’s not really new practice now, because it’s been out there on the market for some time. But but, you know, what’s it all about? What’s your take on this whole early feeding of chicks in the hatchery?
[04:41] Indeed, it’s not something new. So already there for quite a while. And of course, we are feeding birds during transport already for a long time. So that’s one thing but that’s mainly for long term transport breeders and so on. And then a couple of years ago We realized that when you feed the birds directly after hatch, you give them a sort of a head start that might be beneficial for performance. And then somebody came up with the bright idea that if you give that feed, already, during hatching you even get a head start earlier than then that you feed them during as soon as possible. You that hatching period. Now, that can be done in two ways, you can either bring the feed to the hatchery, the feed and the water, of course, to the hatchery, because that’s a very important thing. That’s one of the first mistakes I made with my first couple of first trials that I did with it, I basically was feeding something and it didn’t work at all, until I got a student that had no idea about chickens. And she said, but how do you get them to water? Oh, now, okay, that’s why it doesn’t work. But when you give them feed or water, either separate or as a mixture, in the hatcher, then that gives you a head start. And the other option is, of course, bring the eggs at 18 days of incubation, bring them to the farm, and place them in the litter or above the litter and let them hatch. During after in the farm of course, the moment they jump out of the egg, then they can find food and water. Now that has been picked up, especially from a welfare point of view. And then the idea was that if it’s beneficial for welfare, and it’s beneficial for the bird, and it’s beneficial for the farmer, then it really is a win win situation. And everybody should be happy. Of course, there are some consequences with it. There are some negative sides, nothing is all positive, nothing is always only hallelujah. But in this case, that could be quite positive. And the idea, the first idea was that if you give those birds feed and water during hatching, then in a normal hatch window of let’s say, 36 hours, the first chick hatching until let’s say until pulling plus, let’s say 10 hours from starting to pull until arriving on the farm and being unloaded, then you talk about 48 hours, two days of no feed and water. And if you give that bird feed and water, perhaps the welfare and the dehydration of that bird and so on, will be less and that bird will make a better start.
[07:47] Of course, the bird has a residual yolk sac. Because Mother Nature cannot guarantee that that chick from the mother hen, finds feed and water like a calf does with a cow. I mean, mother hen still is not, not giving milk. So there’s quite a little bit difficult to ensure that it gets that feed and water. So mother nature of course not being stupid provided that bird with a yoke. And that works. But of course, if you give that extra feed and extra water, perhaps it gets even better than that. In 2017, there was a quite a big survey being done, where a lot of literature was processed and a lot of literature was being put together. And it showed that when you do give that earlier feed and water compared to at hatch or compared to at arrival on the farm or compared to even delaying access to feed and water on the farm, then indeed, you have a better growth. And they compared it as a percentage. And if you have a certain number of hours that a bird do not get feed and water, then compared with a standard, then you have only 90% or 80% or 95% depending how you do it off the off the growth that you normally will have. So that would indicate that that bird? Yes, it does benefit. Yes, it grows faster. Yes. It’s really beneficial for that bird and it will not suffer that much. Until you take a little bit closer look into the data. Yes, when you deprive that bird from feed and water for a period, it will not have the end weight. At the end. There will be only let’s say, depending on how you do it. But let’s say 90% or 95% of the end weight that you would normally get until you calculate the number of hours that the bird has access to feed and water. Because the trick is they compare the same slaughter moment But then did not give the birds feed and water for 12 hours, 24 hours, 36 hours after that hatch. So the bird had literally 12 hours, 24 hours, 36 hours less time to consume, feed and water. And if you compare the percentage of time that a bird has access to feed and water, with the percentage of gross that they realized in that period, is completely identical. That basically means that when you give that bird, only 90% Time to eat, it’ll also only grow 90% of the final bodyweight. So it basically indicates that the bird doesn’t change that much that doesn’t say anything about welfare. Perhaps it suffers in that period, I don’t know. And that’s not my area of expertise. But the the benefit, beneficial effects seems to be more for, let’s say, the farmer, because of course, when you start your birds earlier, you reach the finish line earlier as well. If you are a driver, and you can start 100 meters ahead of the rest, you probably will make it to the finish line also a little bit quicker than the other ones, not because you go faster, but simply you start earlier. And that’s actually the situation with early feeding. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. That doesn’t mean it’s something that should not be done. But of course, if it’s really beneficial in that way, for the word birds, well being for the performance of the bird, they don’t grow faster, they only grow earlier. And that’s of course a benefit. But that’s not necessarily something that is beneficial for the bird. You do see positive effects from early feeding, although it’s not, it’s too young to really say that you have, let’s say proven beneficial effect, because there’s still a lot of research that needs to be done, it‘s a little bit too young to read expect a lot of data on that subject. But one thing what people claim or what people see. And I, I think I agree with it, because I’ve done it several times myself. And I have the same experience. When you do give early feed and water, you see that the bird seems to be more stable, it seems to be that you need a little bit less
[08:47] And if I may add about Asia, like you said, there’s a big growth and companies are growing, and many companies are growing through acquisition. And again, once you collect many different companies in one big company, there is a need to standardize everything across the board. Otherwise, it might not work. Otherwise, there is no control. And again, if you don’t have control, it’s really hard to predict the growth or organize the growth.
[12:38] antibiotics that you know a little bit you need less antibiotics, you have more it’s not that the mortality goes down that much. But you see that birds seems to be a little bit more healthy. And that’s blamed or that’s given as a benefit for feed and water. Now, being a scientist, you always wonder how things are happening. And the one thing what you do with early feed and water is you’re given them early feed and water. But you also change the hatching environment. If you if anybody who works in the hatchery if you ever open a hatchery, or hatches, sorry, let’s say 70% of the hatch, and you look at those chicks in the boxes, you know it’s crowded, it‘s a lot of dust, it’s a lot of moisture, it’s a lot of stress, it’s a lot of one thing, if you give feed and water in the hatchery, you will have to give the birds more space for the simple reason. If you don’t give the birds more space, they cannot move and find feed and water. So that’s exactly what you see if you have the commercial systems available at this moment, you see that they are having a lower density, much lower density and giving more space to those birds simply to be able to move to the sides to find feed and water. And also when you when you hatch those birds in the farm. So you bring them the eggs with the farmer day the days and you wait for three days until they’re hatched. The density is much lower. They don’t grow over each other they don‘t inhale all the dust and bacteria and that high density let’s say environment that we are having in a normal hatches. So the question is, if we find a more stable bird with a better gut flora, and a better stability of the intestinal tract, is it or an immune system or whatever it is causing it? Is it because of the early feed and water? Or is it perhaps also a little bit or a lot because the birds has more space and is now not affected so heavily with all that bacterial load. We did some trials with early feed and water system without feed and water. And you basically see that the effect is also there. So it’s not only feed and water, it might also be part of it, or a lot of it, I don’t know. But part of it might also be the environment that you let them hatch. And that’s quite important. Because if you need a system with feed and water or without feed and water, logistically speaking, there’s quite a big difference.