Effect of Eggshell Temperature During Incubation on Embryo Development, Hatchability, and Posthatch Development

A. Lourens, H. van den Brand, R. Meijerhof, B. Kemp

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An experiment was conducted to study the effects of different eggshell temperature (EST) profiles during incubation on embryo mortality, hatchability, and embryo development. Furthermore, chicks from different EST profiles were reared under low and high housing temperatures to investigate subsequent posthatch growth and rectal temperature. Two batches of eggs were used in this experiment. Hatching eggs were subjected to 36.7 or 37.8°C EST during the first week, to 37.8°C EST during the second week, and to 37.8 or 38.9°C EST during the third week of incubation. Posthatch housing temperature decreased from 35°C at d 1 to 30°C at d 7 (high) or decreased from 30°C at d 1 to 25°C at d 7 (low). The difference between machine temperature and EST (DT) was used to illustrate the effect of EST on heat production during incubation. DT differed per batch, and was smallest when eggs were incubated at 36.7°C instead of 37.8°C during wk 1. High EST during wk 3 of incubation (38.9°C instead of 37.8°C) reduced DT only in batch 2. Embryo development was most retarded in eggs incubated at 36.7°C EST compared with at 37.8°C during the first week of incubation. However, highest hatchability and embryo development were always found when EST was maintained at 37.8°C constantly throughout incubation. Chicks that hatched from eggs incubated at low EST during wk 1 of incubation had lower rectal temperature after hatching, especially under low housing temperatures, and this effect lasted until 7 d posthatch in batch 1. The highest rectal temperatures were always found in chicks incubated at 37.8°C EST constantly throughout incubation. Eggs and chicks from different batches require different environmental conditions for optimal embryo development, hatchability, and posthatch growth. Rearing temperature and incubation conditions affect the ability of young chicks to maintain their rectal temperature during the first week posthatch
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)914-920
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • chicken
  • growth

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