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What Makes an Ideal Hatchery?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2014
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Several characteristics are needed in the design of an ideal hatchery to ensure that the facility is safe, clean, and easy to use. A well-designed hatchery will be more productive, with less risk of loss and more potential for raising additional stock as the hatchery's operations expand. It should also comply with prevailing laws which pertain to hatcheries and animal husbandry.

Hatcheries are used for the purpose of incubating the eggs of poultry and fish to hatch live young, and then raising the young until they are old enough to be sold or transported to another location. Industrial hatcheries operate continuously, posing serious design challenges because they must house eggs and young at various stages of development. The design considerations vary, depending on whether the facility is being used for poultry or fish.

In both cases, an ideal hatchery has excellent ventilation and a design which facilitates cleaning to keep the space as hygienic as possible. It should include separate areas for incubating eggs and housing young to reduce the spread of disease, along with a secure area for storing feed, and an ample supply of fresh water. An ideal hatchery also has clear protocols in place for workers, such as a ban on passing between the hatchery and brooding areas to keep these areas as separate as possible.

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In the area where eggs are incubated and hatched, there needs to be plenty of space to move around, along with room to isolate different species or breeds. In a poultry hatchery, different breeds may be incubated in separate incubators and trays, while in a fish hatchery, different ponds will be utilized to keep species separate. The space should also be easy to monitor, so that staff can be alert to developing problems such as temperature fluctuations or impurities in the water.

In the brooding areas where young are taken out after they have hatched, cleanliness is critical. High volumes of young animals can generate an astounding amount of waste, and this waste needs to be collected and disposed of responsibly. Measures also need to be put in place for feeding and isolating animals to confirm that they are healthy before allowing them to mingle with the general population. A processing area to get animals ready for shipment is also an important part of the design in an ideal hatchery.

Having space for the animals is obviously key in an ideal hatchery, but space for humans is needed as well. Hatcheries need to keep extensive records on the animals they breed, which requires a lot of office space. Many also need to provide some veterinary services, including basic services such as measuring and weighing young animals, and staffers also need a place to change, with some hatcheries having break rooms and shower areas as well.

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