A unique partnership between a hatchery expert, biotech start-up and premix company has led to a game changing post-hatch feeding product: SmartStart™
Aiming for the shortest possible spread of hatch remains paramount in single stage incubation. A sub-optimal hatch window can lead to chicks having to wait a long time before having access to feed and water. To promote the welfare of day old chicks in situations with prolonged hatch windows, there is growing demand for flexible solutions that offer the freedom to access feed and water immediately upon hatching. But inside the warm environment of a hatcher, open water systems are prone to contamination and the cultivation of bacteria. An innovative new idea, developed by a consortium of three companies, has created a smart, practical concept that locks the water inside a semi-moist feed. It is a solution easily applied without modification to existing hatchers, to give the youngest chicks a perfect start.
This new post-hatch feeding concept was developed by In Ovo, Pas Reform Hatchery Automation and premix specalist Twilmij. All three companies involved in the new project agreed that the approach must be to develop a practical, flexible and easy to use solution, that enabled chicks to freely access feed and water as soon as possible in the hatcher. “Some post-hatch feeding systems are already used by the industry, but they often require large investment and intensive adaptations to the incubation systems currently in use.
“We wanted to focus on developing a post-hatch feed that can be used in hatcher baskets, a system that is used the most often around the world”, explains Wouter Bruins, co-founder of In Ovo. Twilmij has a lot of experience with their existing feed formulation After Egg Food, which is used during the transportation of day old chicks. Marien van den Brink, R&D manager and poultry nutritionist at Twilmij explains: “After teaming up, we wanted to investigate possible new products or how we could make our After Egg Food compatible for use in a hatchery. Our feed is a semi-moist, red coloured crumble with a water content of 30% that also contains high quality ingredients and fragrances.
Field tests ungoing
Pas Reform remains focused on the continued development of modular, single-stage incubators, knowing that this will allow for further reduction of the hatch-window. “But we see the relevance of extending options for our customers with a product like SmartStart™”, explains Bouke Hamminga, director International Sales and Business Development at Pas Reform. The first steps have been taken and the first results confirm that SmartStart™ works. “This is our 1.0 version. With such strong proof of concept, we are ready to further improve this game changing post-hatch feed solution.
“One thing is crystal clear. No one wants or needs to invest heavily in equipment to achieve this goal. Customers are looking for a practical, flexible solution that can be accommodated by current incubation systems: an effective solution that can help hatcheries around the world to optimise their incubation process and deliver greater numbers of uniform, healthy chicks”, concludes Hamminga.