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Breeders, Layers and Hatching Egg Production R. Keith Bramwell, PhD Department of Poultry Science University of Arkansas.

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Presentation on theme: "Breeders, Layers and Hatching Egg Production R. Keith Bramwell, PhD Department of Poultry Science University of Arkansas."— Presentation transcript:

1 Breeders, Layers and Hatching Egg Production R. Keith Bramwell, PhD Department of Poultry Science University of Arkansas

2 History of Poultry Industry Orgin of chicken - Jungle Fowl (India) Reason for initial domestication - cock fighting

3 History of the Poultry Industry 19th century- poultry fanciers:new breeds developed which became the American class 1st poultry show in Boston American poultry assoc. Formed in 1873 Standard of excellence published in 1874 Chicks could be mailed

4 Exhibition Chickens American Poultry Association lists nearly 400 breeds of chickens most with several varieties Over 1000 chicken shows held annually in the US The APA Standard of Perfection sets the ideal qualities for each breed and variety

5 What is Bantam Chicken? A small version of the larger (standard size) breed Bantams are almost exclusively for exhibition

6 Breeds and Varieties Breed is a type of chicken –Leghorn or a Plymouth Rock Variety is defined by the variations within the breed –Leghorn – single comb vs rose comb – white vs light brown –Plymouth rock – White Rock vs Barred Rock

7 Body shape and structure –Modern game, Japanese, rumpless Types of Variations

8 Leg and feet variations –Silkie, Salmon Favorelle, etc Size –Bantam, standard Sound? –Long crowers! Types of Variations

9 Breeds and Varieties

10 Types of Variations Feather color –Solid coloring –Barring, penciled, mottled

11 Feather type –Silkies, frizzles, long tails Types of Variations

12 Feather distribution –Polish, cochins, naked neck Types of Variations

13 Comb type –Single, rose, pea, v-shape, etc Types of Variations

14 Comb Types




18 Reproduction and Breeding Cockerels and pullets can become sexually mature by 14 to 16 weeks of age –Good fertility occurs at least 2-3 weeks after the onset of egg production Industry delays sexual maturation to 18 to 25 weeks –Allows birds to develop body conformation which results in better egg size

19 Reproduction occurs with light stimulation after they attain an appropriate body weight and conformation As little as 14 hours of light can stimulate reproduction (15-16 hours best) –Light stimulation can be ‘staggered in’ –Light duration must be consistent from day to day Reproduction and Breeding

20 With light stimulation hens can lay through the winter –However, they will need a break sometime to undergo either a hard or soft molt to regenerate body reserves Reproduction and Breeding

21 Males can be housed with anywhere from 1 to hens –This depends upon the breed and age of the birds Ornamental and exhibition breeds have more fertility problems –For pedigree breeding up to 15 hens can be housed with a single good male in rotation Reproduction and Breeding

22 Hens can store viable sperm for up to two weeks –If pedigree breeding, this should be taken into consideration Reproduction and Breeding

23 Developing a Breeding Program You must have top quality birds!!!! Or, you must start out with A LOT of birds and have A LOT of time!

24 When you decide to be serious, select a couple of your favorite breeds and specialize Once you get the birds, select the best pairs, trios, etc. as breeders One rooster can breed 5-10 hens in rotating cages Developing a Breeding Program

25 Selection of Birds Select birds that fit your purpose Then make sure your birds look and act like they are supposed to

26 Light stimulate breeders to get chicks year round –Min 14 hours light per day, everyday Hatch every egg they lay to give you numerous birds for selection Don’t be afraid to cull!!! Don’t keep poor quality birds around that may reproduce Developing a Breeding Program

27 Keep records of birds, band them, and create pedigree charts You may need to outcross with other breeds or other lines to get the traits you want Developing a Breeding Program



30 Easter Silkies?

31 Female Reproductive System: Ovary Mature ovary consists of numerous developing follicles –Appears like a cluster of grapes –Follicles present in hierarchal order

32 Sperm Cell Storage A biological necessity to produce fertile eggs in the avian system

33 Insemination (AI or Natural) Sperm Storage Sperm transport to site of fertilization Recognition of sperm binding sites Sperm acrosome reaction and penetration Fertilization

34 Location - Infundibulum Time - within ~ 5 minutes following ovulation or before the ovum enters the magnum

35 Fertilization Shell formation takes hours to complete Hen’s body temperature o F

36 Fertilization & Embryo Development Fertilization occurs within 5 minutes after ovulation Shell formation takes hours to complete Hen’s body temperature o F Laid egg represents 1 days embryonic growth (20, ,000 cells)

37 Day 0 of Incubation: Before Egg is Laid Fertile/infertile determination can be made at lay While the egg moves from initial fertilization, to shell membrane formation to shell formation in the oviduct, the embryo develops from the early to late cleavage stages Germinal disc diameter (3-4mm) larger the first few hours after fertilization than at lay


39 Fertile and Infertile Eggs Infertile eggFertile egg

40 Artificial Insemination : a Three Step Procedure 1. Semen collection 2. Semen dilution* 3. Insemination * Second step may be omitted if neat (undiluted) semen is used for insemination within 30 min. of collection

41 Egg Production Provide nest boxes off the ground and keep them clean –Contaminated eggs (exploders) can ruin chick hatch and chick quality

42 Nest Boxes Hens want to feel secure when they lay their egg Manufactured boxes Anything else

43 What Is Secure for Them?


45 Hatching Egg Management ‘ On the Farm’ Minimize use of dirty eggs Remove and discard poor hatching eggs –Dirty, cracked, small, very large, poor shells, mish-shaped eggs

46 Effect Of Egg Storage On Hatchability

47 Egg Handling Prior to Incubation Temporarily stop embryo development -Lower internal temperature of the egg below 70 o F (physiological temperature) Do not allow eggs to oscillate above and below physiological temperature -Early hatching chicks (dehydration) -Early embryonic mortality will increase

48 High to Low Storage Temperature

49 Egg Storage Store eggs in appropriate on farm egg room –~ 70 F ~ 75% humidity –Less than 10 days Keep egg room clean and tidy (biosecurity)

50 Take extra care in grading eggs (egg pack) Carefully place eggs point down in setter trays Egg Storage

51 Fixing Cracked Eggs –Simple fine hairline crack 1) paint with thin layer of glue –Break that causes indentation 1) cut kleenex, shell membrane of infertile egg 2) glue edges and dry 3) paint over patch –If crack leaked liquid contents, unlikely to survive

52 Incubation Preferences Multi stage ? –Several ages of eggs in one machine Single stage? –All in all out (much cleaner) Separate hatcher? –Sanitation necessity

53 Incubation Preferences Letting nature take its course... –Setting only –+ Hatching –+ Brooding –+ Growing

54 Artificial Incubation

55 In the Beginning... The Small

56 Small to Medium... The Dome Style

57 Medium Sized... Table Top Style


59 Large Sized... Cabinet Style


61 At the End ?... The Extra Large

62 Important points –Temperature –Humidity –Turning –Ventilation Artificial Incubation

63 –Temperature Control 1) R ange from 98.7 to 100 F optimum ‘Still air’ incubators suggest higher incubation temperatures as opposed to ‘forced air’ units

64 Artificial Incubation –Humidity 1) Achieving specific water loss is the goal 11-15% general rule 12% weight loss best 2 ) Relative humidity should be % Wet bulb temp F

65 Artificial Incubation –Egg turning 1) R ecommendations 5-6 times per day (three times is OK) 180 degrees, not all in one direction place an X on one side of egg –Do not turn last three days of incubation

66 –Ventilation Air exchange is critical to prevent suffocation –Rule of thumb – ventilate as much as you can and still be able to maintain incubator temperatures Artificial Incubation

67 Ventilation –Supply of fresh air, exhausting CO 2 Temperature control –Varies with setter type 99.5 – F Setter Operation

68 Humidity –Used to control moisture loss Chickens ~ days Ostrich ~ 15% total –84 0 F wet bulb (~ 54% humidity) Turning –Ensures proper embryo development –At least 2-3 X per day

69 Hatcher Operation Ventilation Humidity –May increase after pipping –Humidity varies with different species Temperature –Usually lower than in the setting machines Do not turn eggs prior to hatching

70 Incubation Duration –Varies a great deal among species –Chicken21 days –Duck 28 – 35 days –Pheasant24 days –Quail 18 – 24 days –Turkey28 days –Emu48-52 days –Budgie14 days

71 Egg Candling Candling allows examination of embryo development After 10 days of incubation, use a small flashlight and place it on the large end of the egg while in a dark room Examine and determine normal embryo development at 10 days Break open unhatched eggs (residue breakout) to determine fertility or embryo death

72 Hatch of Fertile Hatchery% Hatch% Fertile% Hatch of Fertile A B C % hatch / 96% fertile * 100 = 90% Hatch of Fertile

73 Natural Incubation Maintain a pen of naturally broody hens –Silkies, Cochins, etc Allow layers or breeders to incubate and brood their own young

74 Hatchability Controlling Factors FarmHatchery Breeder NutritionSanitation DiseaseEgg Storage InfertilityEgg Damage Incubation – management of setters and hatchers Egg SanitationChick Handling Egg Storage

75 Chick Pull and Processing Chicks separated, graded by quality, counted Vaccination

76 Factors Influencing Chick Size Egg size –Chick weight 66-68% of egg weight Moisture loss during incubation Length of time between setting and pulling chicks from hatchers Date at which incubation began

77 Brooding Chicks Start chicks at 90 to 92 o F –Lower temp ~ 5 o F each week thereafter Use a solid brooder guard if you have a large area you are raising the chicks Feed and water chicks immediately after they are placed in brooding area Provide access to food and fresh water at all times!

78 Brooder Ideas

79 Too draftyToo cold Too hotJust right

80 Importance of Water Water is the forgotten nutrient It must be clean, and cool at all times –Don’t create a soup of bacteria! Adding vitamins or electrolytes in the water is also very helpful

81 Ambient Environment In addition to air temperature –Don’t allow birds to be exposed to air drafts –But... Birds need fresh air Keep birds dry Keep pens (floor) dry

82 Brooding Chicks Feed chicks a quality starter feed for several weeks –This feed is high in protein and a “rich” formula

83 Rearing Pullets After the starter feed formula runs out switch to a regular chicken grower Again provide access to food and clean, cool water always

84 Housing for the “Hens” Keep them “high and dry” Clean floors and area Fresh air through ventilation –Without excessive drafts Nest boxes Perches Adequate feed and water space

85 How It Used to Be Done in 1926

86 Do we need to reinvent the wheel? NO! How it used to be done is not bad However, we do know much more about birds today than anyone has ever known,... We can and should utilize this information!

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