In this study, a data driven approach was used by applying linear regression and machine learning methods to understand animal related and environmental factors affecting hatchability. Data was obtained from a parent stock and grand-parent stock hatchery, including 1,737 batches of eggs incubated in the years 2010–2018. Animal related factors taken into consideration were strain (white vs. brown strain), breeder age, and egg weight uniformity at the start of incubation, whereas environmental factors considered were length of egg storage before incubation, egg weight loss during incubation and season. Effects of these factors on hatchability were analyzed with 3 different models: a linear regression (LR) model, a random forest (RF) model and a gradient boosting machine (GBM) model. In part one of the study, hatchability was predicted and the performance of the models in terms of coefficient of determination (R2) and root mean square error (RMSE) was compared. The ensemble machine learning models (RF: R2 = 0.35, RMSE = 8.41; GBM: R2 = 0.31, RMSE = 8.67) appeared to be superior than the LR model (R2 = 0.27, RMSE = 8.92) as indicated by the higher R2 and lower RMSE. In part 2 of the study, effects of these factors on hatchability were investigated more into detail. Hatchability was affected by strain, breeder age, egg weight uniformity, length of egg storage and season, but egg weight loss didn't have a significant effect on hatchability. Additionally, four 2-way interactions (breeder age × egg weight uniformity, breeder age × length of egg storage, breeder age × strain, season × strain) were significant on hatchability. It can be concluded that hatchability of parent stock and grand-parent stock layer breeders is affected by several animal related and environmental factors, but the size of the predicted effects varies between the methods used. In this study, 3 models were used to predict hatchability and to analyze effects of animal related and environmental factors on hatchability. This opens new horizons for future studies on hatchery data by taking the advantage of applying machine learning methods, that can fit complex datasets better than LR and applying statistical analysis.
- machine learning