Replacement of conventional hatchery with Patio system

Replacement of conventional hatchery with Patio system


Department of Poultry Production, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Lahore, Pakistan

*Corresponding author:

Several developmental and physiological processes occur during the important and sensitive brooding period of chickens, which is the first 7 days of a chicken’s life. The chicken seems anatomically complete at hatch, but the thermoregulatory, gastro-intestinal and immune system needs further development and maturation. Optimal brooding is essential to optimize animal health and contributes to a good performance and survival in later life. The most important brooding condition to control is the body temperature because chickens are unable to regulate their
body temperature post-hatch. Secondly, feed intake is important and stimulates both intestinal and immunological development.
Consequently, chicks are exposed to prolonged post-hatch holding periods and delays in feed and water access, leading to dehydration and impaired post-hatch performance. An alternative system that may better match the requirements of the hatchlings is a system that combines the hatching and brooding phase, so that feed and water can be provided immediately after hatch. Such a system, named Patio, was developed in the Netherlands and tested from 2006 to 2008, to evaluate effects on hatchability and early performance of broilers.
Key words: immune system, brooding, post-hatch, patio

Hatching eggs are commonly incubated for 15 d in incubators, after which they are candled to verify the presence of an embryo inside the eggs. Following common practice, only the apparently fertile eggs are transferred to hatcher baskets and placed in hatcher cabinets for the last 3 d of incubation. Chicks hatch over a time window of approximately 36 to 48 h and are removed from the hatchers only when the majority of the chicks has hatched (Careghi et al., 2005). The variation in hatching time depends on factors such as age of the parent flock, egg handling, egg storage time, and incubation conditions(Noy and Sklan, 1999; Decuypere et al., 2001; Gonzales et al., 2003). In addition, fixed management schedules at commercial hatcheries often leave little room for flexibility and thus the moment of chick collection has usually been set at last day. Consequently, a slight delay or a more pronounced variation in the moment of hatch may affect (and decrease) hatchability, because opening the hatchers too early means that eggs with viable chicks inside are wasted. On the other hand, postponing the moment of chickcollection will lead to a higher percentage of chicks dehydrating and reduce chick quality (Bamelis et al., 2005; Tona et al., 2005). After chick collection from the hatcher, further hatchery procedures, such as sexing, vaccination, packaging, and transportation, increase the time until placement in the broiler house and thus first feed and water intake, for part of the flock by up to 50 h or more (Sklan et al., 2000; Careghi et al., 2005). If long transportation is involved, this period may be increased up to 72h. Suboptimal conditions during transport and a delay in the moment of placement and the first feed and water intake are associated with higher early mortality in chicks and poults (Kingston, 1979; Carver et al., 2002; Chou et al., 2004; Van den Brand etal., 2010) and impaired performance throughout the growout period (Halevy et al., 2000; Gonzales et al., 2003). Early feeding has been shown to positively affect growth, development and maturation of the gastrointestinal tract and there by the chicken itself (Noy and Sklan, 1997; Batal and Parsons, 2002; Uni and Ferket, 2004).The earlier the chicken starts to consume feed and water, the earlier its development starts (Noy and Sklan, 1997).Although the first few days of the life of a chick are known to be crucial to later performance (Bruzual et al., 2000; Tona et al., 2005) it is questionable whether the physiological requirements of the hatchlings can be met with current incubation systems and hatchery management procedures. An alternative system that can potentially overcome the negative effects of variation in hatching time and deprivation of feed and water is a system that combines the hatching and brooding phase, in which feed and water can be provided immediately after hatch. In the period of 2002 to 2006, such a system was developed for broiler chicks. Thereafter, this system, named Patio (Vencomatic BV, Eersel, the Netherlands), was tested at 3 locations in the Netherlands from 2006 to 2008, to evaluate consequences on hatchability and later performance of broilers(http// The Patio system is a replacement for conventional broiler farms. This system improves body weight, quality of chicks and reduces chick’s mortality (Van de Ven et al., 2009).This paper describes the Patio system and their positive effects on bird’s health.
Patio System Description

The Patio is built in combinations of 2 rows of 2.4 meter wide, which are placed mirrored against one another. The rows consist of 4 to 6 litter belts above each other. The compact construction with multiple tiers allows a 2.8 time more efficient use of land with the Patio system. Integrated on each tier of the Patio are a traytransport system, feeding line and drinking line. Furthermore, the Patio is an all-integrated system, with light, heating, ventilation, chick harvesting and manure removal systems integrated into the concept.
Ideal environment

Patio provides the ideal environment throughout the broilers’ life: the rail system enabling on-farm hatching is integrated inthe system providing the best possible start for all birds. Preconditioned air enters the Patio system resulting in an optimum and constant micro climate. Constant fresh air is supplied at bird level which further stimulates the broilers’ health. The birds in the system are housed on belts made of hygienic and durable polypropylene. These belts are easy to clean and quickly adapt to the room temperature, helping to lower heating costs and providing the right floor temperature as a result

Maximum animal comfort

The energy saving and dimmable LED-lighting system provides uniform light distribution at bird level. Per tier lights are controllable for maximum animal comfort during the growing period and during unloading. Feeding and drinking lines are arranged closely providing maximum feed and water access while leaving room destined for the birds to rest (Van de Ven et al., 2009).

Climate control

Fresh outside air enters the Patio house via the attic. After adjusting it to the right temperature and humidity the air is transported to the outer corridors. The advanced air inlet valves and self-governing balance valves ensure an optimized air distribution at bird level.

Key arguments for choosing Patio system
1.5% higher average hatch rates, less transport movements and providing the broilers direct access to feed and water. 50% reduction of heating costs due to compact design and use of a heat recovery system (Ashok and Prabakaran, 2012). Air is used 4x more efficiently due to the perfectly balanced air distribution. Manual procedures are automated with smart solutions like the tray transport system (25.000 eggs/hour) litter in feed, spray vaccination and the broiler harvesting and loading systems. Quick and easy cleaning. Manure is removed at the end of the growing period, with use of the litter belts. All parts in contact with manure are made of synthetic materials and are thus easy to clean(http//

Growth performance,carcass and slaughter characteristic
Patio system improved body weight of the birds compared to those, hatched in the hatchery (Bruzual et al., 2000;Özbey et al., 2004; Brain, 2005; Yardimci and Kenar, 2008; Van de van et al., 2009; Abdel-Azeem, 2010).  In broilers, Body weight loss up to 8% per 24 h occurs in this early post-hatch period (Noy and Sklan, 1999a; Geyra et al., 2001; Bigot et al., 2003; Gonzales et al., 2003; Careghi et al., 2005). In hatchery practice, it may take up to 50 h until the first feed and water intake for the early hatched birds (Sklan et al., 2000; Careghi et al., 2005).Patio system improve growth performance, carcass characteristic ofthe birds (Abdel-Azeem, 2010)and slaughter characteristics (Brain, 2005).

Chick mortality

Early mortality in chickens and poults has been related to suboptimal truck temperatures and longer duration of transport from the hatchery to the farm (Carver et al., 2002; Chou et al., 2004). Low temperatures in the brooding phase lead to increased early mortalities in broiler chicks (Bruzual et al., 2000) and improper brooding conditions are a major important factor for decreased flock performance (Cobb-Vantress, 2008).Delays in the moment of first feed and water supply for the broiler birds hatched cause high mortality rate then the birds in patio system (Kingston, 1979; Carver et al., 2002; Chou et al., 2004).
In conclusion, combining the hatching and brooding phase in one system, as in the Patio, has proved to function as a promising alternative for current hatching and brooding systems, with regard to hatchability, early growth, and livability of broiler chicks.
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