VIV Europe Hotline, 22 April : Attendance at the second day of the VIV EGGS! program was higher following an easing of restrictions on air and rail travel to the Netherlands. The event, sponsored by WATT, comprised a balance between presentations by specialists affiliated to academic institutions and suppliers of equipment.

The “Circadian Incubation” concept was described by Dr. Marleen Boerjan of Pas Reform. Subjecting embryos to a short period of elevated temperature on each day during the hatching phase increases live weight of broilers at harvest. Given accumulated field data, it is calculated that an additional 1,200 tons of processed meat could be harvested each year by an integrator producing 1 million broilers per week.

Lotte van de Ven, of Vencomatic, presented data confirming the commercial advantages of the “Patio” system of broiler production. This is effectively a multi-tier broiler growing module capable of being retrofitted to existing units to increase output per unit of floor area.

The uniqueness of the system is that eggs in setter trays are moved directly from the hatchery at the time of transfer and transported to the tiers where they hatch, allowing the birds to develop to maturity. The system has been tested over 42 cycles in three locations in the Netherlands and has been ordered by an integrator in Russia.

The contribution of the Catholic University of Leuven to production efficiency was demonstrated in the papers delivered by Professor Eddy Decuyere on embryonic development and Dr. Kristof Mertens on egg shell structure. Many innovations based on the work of scientists at this institution have been applied commercially, including integrated control of carbon dioxide, humidity and temperature during incubation.

Dr. Koen de Rue, of the Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research, in Belgium, compared the levels of microbiological contamination of eggs from conventional and enriched cages and barn housing.

Based on a review of literature and structured field trials, it was concluded that there is no inherent risk of food borne infection from alternative systems, but refinements in the design of nest modules are required to optimize shell cleanliness and bacterial quality.

A novel approach to pasteurization of egg liquid was detailed by Dr. Roberto Coavitti of Sanovo Technology. The “Wave” system heats liquid to pasteurization temperature by inducing molecular friction when product is subjected to cycles of polarization and depolarization at a frequency of 27MHz. The resulting product has a shelf life exceeding 17 weeks and retains all inherent functional properties of fresh eggs due to the fact that the configuration of proteins in albumen is unaffected as in conventional heat pasteurization.