Day-old chicken quality and performance of broiler chickens from 3 different hatching systems

C. Souza da Silva, R. Molenaar, M.F. Giersberg, T.B. Rodenburg, J.W. van Riel, Kris De Baere, Iris Van Dosselaer, B. Kemp, H. van den Brand, I.C. de Jong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


In on-farm hatching systems, eggs are transported at d 18 of incubation to the broiler farm, where chickens have immediate access to feed and water after hatching. In hatchery-fed systems, newly hatched chickens have immediate access to feed and water in the hatchery and are transported to the farm thereafter. Conventionally hatched chickens can remain without access to feed and water up to 72 h after hatching until placement on the farm. The current study compared day-old chicken quality, performance, and slaughter yield of broiler chickens that were on-farm hatched (OH), hatchery-fed (HF), or conventionally hatchery-hatched (HH). The experiment was performed in 6 rooms in 1 house. Each room contained 2 duplicate pens with approximately 1,155 chickens per pen; 2 rooms with each 2 duplicate pens were assigned to 1 treatment. The experiment was repeated during 3 consecutive production cycles. Chickens originated from young parent stock flocks. Results showed that HF and OH chickens were heavier and longer than HH chickens at day (D) 1. Relative weight of stomach and intestines were highest for OH chickens. The OH chickens had worse day-old chicken quality in terms of navel condition and red hocks than HH and HF chickens. Treatments did not differ in first wk and total mortality. From D0 until slaughter age, body weight was highest for OH, followed by HF and HH. Furthermore, carcass weight at slaughter age (D40) was highest for OH chickens, followed by HF and HH chickens. Breast fillets showed a higher incidence of white striping and wooden breast in HF and OH chickens compared with HH chickens. In conclusion, the current study showed that both OH and HF chickens of young parent flocks had better growth performance, which could explain the higher prevalence of breast myopathies, compared with HH. The worse day-old chicken quality for OH compared with HH and HF does not seem to affect first wk mortality and later life performance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100953
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number3
Early online date23 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • breast myopathies
  • broiler
  • early nutrition
  • on-farm hatching
  • performance


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