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Egg Shell Mottling and Hatchability

by 5m Editor
17 September 2002, at 12:00am

By R. Keith Bramwell, Extension Reproductive Specialist Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, University of Arkansas, published by Avian Advice. This article looks at the problem of egg shell mottling and investigates any possible effects it may have on hatchability and moisture loss.

Hatchability Problems

Hatching egg quality parameters have become increasingly important as commercial broiler breeder producers attempt to maximize hatchability. The egg pack can be easily monitored and growers held responsible for sending too many poor quality eggs to the hatchery. However, even good quality eggs can be mishandled. When care is not taken the incidence of otherwise good hatching eggs sent to the hatchery in the form of upside-down, or filth covered eggs, which may cause contamination, or even slab sided eggs, will also reduce hatchability.

When troubleshooting hatchability problems, traditionally producers have placed the blame in one of three areas, fertility, hatchery (incubation) conditions, or egg handling. Obviously most of the attention is usually turned to the males in the breeder house and overall flock fertility. This is normal considering that the majority of actual hatchability related problems are directly related to poor fertility. Additionally, poor fertility is correlated with increased early embryo mortality which results reduced hatchability.

A second area often responsible for poor hatchability can be directly linked to actual hatchery or incubation conditions. Even with the modern technology available today, hatchery equipment can, and does, wear out and malfunction over time. Equipment maintenance is often more than a full time job when trying to manage a hatchery for optimum production.

A third area often responsible for reductions in hatchability is egg handling conditions and procedures. While it is obvious that we have much to learn in this area and that our ‘tried and true’ methods for egg handling may not be the best, that will be the focus of future articles. The purpose of this article is to address another area that is sometimes blamed for poor hatchability, namely egg shell quality.

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(University of Arkansas - Avian Advice newsletter - Fall 2002)