Good management is vital when using automatic layer nests

Aspects of automatic systems could cause issues for producers if they are not managed properly.

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Terryfic3D | iStockPhoto.com
Terryfic3D | iStockPhoto.com

Automatic layer nests have become increasingly popular compared to nests that utilize manual egg collection. However, aspects of automatic systems could cause issues for producers if they are not managed properly.

Egg temperature concerns and hairline cracks, as a result of poor management in automatic layer nests, were discussed by Martin Barten, hatchery solutions company Pas Reform Senior Hatchery Specialist, during his Hatchery Talks® podcast.

Egg cooling

“Automatic laying nests assure clean hatching eggs of good quality. I believe that they represent efficiency and progress in poultry production,” stated Barten. “However, the incidence of fertility problems measured by the number of clears, or infertile eggs, removed during candling seems to be increasing. After opening a sample, the majority of these clears show that an embryo died in a very early stage.”

In a traditional nest, eggs can naturally cool down at a slower rate. The occurrence of underdeveloped embryos could be related to the eggs cooling too quickly while on the egg belt in automatic laying nests, especially if there is a draft or air movement directly over the eggs, explained Barten.

“Good climate control, as well as well constructed and positioned nests, will prevent this,” he stated.

In countries with a moderate climate, breaking incubated eggs frequently reveals fertile eggs with an underdeveloped embryo, described Barten. Additionally, in warmer countries such as Indonesia, hatchery and fertility results are often higher.

Hairline Cracks

While an increased incidence of hairline cracks can be attributed to shell quality, poor management in automatic laying nests should be considered.

“Hens prefer to lay eggs in the corners of the nest. Yet, in automatic laying nests, the number of corners available in each nest is restricted because they are not designed for single bird occupation,” stated Barten.

This results in eggs being concentrated in quantities along the egg belt.

“If eggs are only collected twice a day, simply moving the belt half the length of a nest unit between the two egg collection times will prevent newly laid eggs from bumping into the eggs already on the belt and reduce the occurrence of hairline cracks,” he concluded.

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