A recent article published in World Poultry discusses work carried out by Aviagen’s specialist hatchery team who are successfully developing a technique to hatch eggs with extended storage time. To achieve this they are evaluating improved ways of handling, storing and incubating eggs. They report improvements in hatchability of 2-3% in eggs stored for 7-14 days and significantly higher improvements in eggs stored for more than 2 weeks.
It is well known that the longer eggs are stored prior to incubation the lower the hatchability and the higher cull rates of hatched chicks. So why is it necessary to hold eggs a little longer before incubation? The reason is market conditions. Delayed setting of eggs could be as a result of reduced demand or it could be to meet specific order sizes.
Figure 1 - ostrich eggs incubating and hatched chicks
The basic principles of egg incubation are the same for chicken and ostrich – but of course the variables in size of eggs are significant. In addition with ostrich we have to develop sufficient VOLUME production to support the research necessary.
This YouTube video is produced by an incubator company. The principles discussed illustrate just how advanced poultry production is today and highlights the importance of every management aspect at each stage of the production chain and their impact to the overall profitability.
They discuss how a growing chicken now takes 25% less time to reach the same weight than it did 25 years ago. In this context they are discussing the importance ever increasing role of optimising embryo development during incubation pointing out that 25 years ago 20% of the time from egg to processing plant was spent in the incubator and today it is 33%. Figure 2 is captured from the video.
Figure 2 - Comparative Ratio of Incubation Time when reducing Days to Slaughter [source: pars reform video]
The reasons given for these significant improvements in production are the combination of genetics, nutrition and management – the 3 factors that the WOA directors have continued to emphasise.
In the same 25 years ostrich has gone through various phases from the introduction into different countries and their failures to yet develop to commercial production. The 25 years have provided the opportunity to gain experience and prove the potential that under the right management systems, ostrich can reach the same slaughter weight in less than ½ the accepted time. It now requires adoption of the knowledge learnt implemented on a large enough scale to ensure it is commercially viable.