Effects of moment of hatch and feed access on chicken development

D.M. Lamot, I.B. van der Linde, R. Molenaar, C.W. van der Pol, P.J.A. Wijtten, B. Kemp, H. van den Brand

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30 Citations (Scopus)


The current study evaluated effects of hatch moment and immediate feed and water access within a 24-h hatch window on chicken growth and development. Five hundred four male chickens obtained from a 49-wk-old Ross 308 breeder flock were assigned to 72 cages based on hatching moment (early, midterm, or late; selected during periods of 475 to 481, 483 to 487, and 489 to 493 h after onset of incubation). At the end of each hatching period, chickens were moved to the grow-out facility and one-half of the chickens received feed and water ad libitum immediately. Remaining chickens received feed and water from 504 h after onset of incubation (d 0). Body weight gain and feed intake for each cage were recorded at d 0, 1, 4, 7, 11, and 18. Chickens were sampled at d 4 and 18 for organ and carcass development. Early hatchers had lower BW at placement compared with midterm and late hatchers but compensated for this afterward, resulting in a higher BW at d 4 (112.8, 107.1, and 103.3 g, respectively). From d 0 to 18, early hatchers tended to have higher BW gain than both other groups. Relative breast meat yield at d 18, expressed as percentage of carcass weight, was higher for early (30.4%) than midterm (28.5%) and late hatchers (27.8%). Up to d 7, direct feed access resulted in higher BW gain (6.1%) and feed intake (4.2%) compared with delayed feed access. No effect of moment of feed access on feed efficiency or organ weights was found. Direct feed access resulted in a higher weight:length ratio of the jejunum (12.5%) and ileum (7.5%) at d 4 compared with delayed feed access. These results suggest that early hatchers have a different developmental and growth pattern than midterm or late hatchers within a 24-h hatch window. A mild delay in feed access after hatch affects growth and development during the first week after hatch.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2604-2614
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • posthatch development
  • delayed access
  • eggshell temperature
  • oxygen concentration
  • broiler physiology
  • small-intestine
  • goblet cells
  • growth
  • performance
  • poultry

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