How To Identify the Right Environment for Chick Development

To produce the best chicks, eggs must be kept at a very precise temperature, humidity and ventilation during incubation. However, it is often difficult to know what’s happening beneath the surface of each shell.

Drawing on years of experience and practical know-how, Cobb experts rely on key measurements that help identify the right environment to ensure chicks are strong and healthy when they hatch.

Uniformity of Embryo Temperatures

Embryo temperatures can be accurately estimated by scanning eggshells at their equator. Using a thermoscan thermometer, test fertile eggs between 15 and 16 days of incubation. Embryo temperatures are directly related to hatchability, as anything too cold or too warm can impact hatch times and chick welfare while in the hatcher trays.

Hatch Window

The hatch window – which is the time between when the first and last chick hatch – should be roughly 30 hours. Ideally, no more than 25 percent of chicks should be hatched 23 hours before chicks are pulled (removed from the hatcher). 70-80 percent of chicks should hatch approximately 12 hours before pull. Check chicks’ temperatures before pulling, targeting an internal temperature of 104°F.

If the eggs hatch too early, chicks become susceptible to problems such as overheating and dehydration, which could impact seven- and 14-day mortality rates and overall performance. If the chicks are hatching too late, the result could be poor hatchability, poor chick quality and live embryo unhatched eggs. Factors affecting hatch include:

  1. Pre-heating eggs for too long before setting.
  2. Incorrect temperature, humidity and ventilation.
  3. Hot spots inside the setter and hatcher.
  4. Seasonal temperature changes effecting the hatchery environment.
  5. Too many fertile eggs in the hatcher.
  6. Incorrect setting patterns in multi-stage machines.
  7. Egg storage time and temperature.


Cleanliness of eggshells

Excess meconium (waste) residue on eggshells is a good indication that chicks have either hatched too early or stayed in the hatcher trays too long. Leaving chicks in the hatcher too long is the difference between great and good mortality.

In addition to incubation environment, several other factors also impact chicks’ overall health and performance, such as transportation, brooding, feed and water management and more. Download our Hatchery Management guide or visit the Cobb Academy for additional resources. 

Related Articles

Why Incubation is Key to Best Broiler Results

Once eggs are delivered to the hatchery, incubation is the first step to raising a profitable flock.

How to Produce a Top Quality Chick

In a hatchery – particularly in the setter and hatching trays – ventilation is key to producing a to

The Importance of Providing Clean Eggs

The performance of a hatchery and the quality of a day-old chick are directly related to the quality

Hatching egg storage and transport

Optimum hatchability and chick quality can only be achieved when the egg is held under ideal conditi

Using Hatch Window to Improve Chick Quality

The term hatch window – also known as the spread of hatch – is used to describe the time span betwee

Pre-Incubation Of Hatching Eggs In Storage

For most operations, egg age is ideally under 7 days of age, but with variations in orders, producti

The Chick Quality Versus Quantity Conundrum

Cobb always strives to ensure that the chicks we hatch and deliver to our customers are the best qua

Vital role of chick transport in overall flock performance

Transporting day-old chicks from hatchery to farm plays a very vital role in the subsequent performa

5 Indicators of Overheated Chicks

Traditional chick-grading standards do not always pick up damage due to overheating. Because overhea

Storing and Transporting Eggs – A Quick-Reference Temperature Guide

Once an egg is laid, its hatching potential can only be maintained, not improved. To ensure optimum

6 Tips for Transferring Eggs from Setter to Hatcher Trays

Transferring eggs from the setter to the hatcher trays is an important and delicate task. Follow the

6 Tips for Transferring Eggs from Setter to Hatcher Trays

Transferring eggs from the setter to the hatcher trays is an important and delicate task. Follow the

Mobile App

Get the Mobile App

Available on Google play and the App Store