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Hatchery Hygiene Monitoring
Chapter 5: Hatchery Hygiene Monitoring
PURPOSE ............................................................................................................................................................
HATCHING EGG QUALITY ....................................................................................................................................
AIR HANDLING EQUIPMENT................................................................................................................................
DISINFECTANTS .................................................................................................................................................
CHICK VACCINATION ..........................................................................................................................................
WATER QUALITY .................................................................................................................................................
HATCHERY HYGIENE INDEX .................................................................................................................................
FREQUENCY OF HATCHERY MONITORING ...........................................................................................................
SELECTING SAMPLE POINTS FOR LABORATORY ANALYSIS...................................................................................
EXAMPLE OF SAMPLING POINTS .........................................................................................................................
EXPOSURE PLATES ..............................................................................................................................................
CONTACT PLATES ...............................................................................................................................................
STORAGE AND READING OF EXPOSURE AND CONTACT PLATES ...........................................................................
Hatchery Hygiene Monitoring
Hatchery Hygiene Monitoring
Hatchery hygiene and chick quality are vital starting points in the poultry industry. In order
to monitor hatchery hygiene a Hatchery Hygiene Monitoring Programme is applied to
each hatchery from which you can monitor and assess the strengths and weaknesses of your
particular hygiene control programme or system. This programme results in a ‘hygiene
score’ or ‘index’ for a particular hatchery (or section of a hatchery) against which subsequent
monitoring can be compared or even comparisons made between hatcheries.
Purpose:
To maintain a clean hatchery environment that minimises the bacterial or fungal impact on
the egg or chick.
Hatching Egg Quality:
Decrease egg borne contamination by defining your hatching egg quality standards. Yolk sac
infection will be high in chicks hatched from dirty, sweated or cracked eggs. These eggs will
compromise hatchery hygiene programmes.
Air handling Equipment:
Incoming air is a source of contamination to the hatchery so proper cleaning and disinfection
of this equipment is necessary.
Disinfectants:
There are many on the market – match the product to the hatchery environment. Their
effectiveness depends on:
-
absence of organic material from the target area
type of surface
dilution rate for particular job
contact time with surface
temperature of disinfectant/surface
compatibility between detergent and disinfectants


They should preferably be non corrosive and non-irritating
Remove all organic material to allow exposure of microorganisms to the disinfectant.
(Organic materials such as fluff, blood, meconium and dust render disinfectants less
effective).
Establish a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for all cleaning, washing and disinfecting
activities. Your monitoring programme will measure the efficacy of your SOP or any
changes instituted.
Hatchery Hygiene Monitoring
Chick vaccination:
Establish an SOP for chick vaccination procedures including diluent, vaccine mixing and
vaccine administration equipment. All vaccine equipment must be sanitised and stored dry to
prevent inadvertent contamination of the chicks.
Water Quality:
To prevent the emergence of water borne Pseudomonas (bacterial) problems the following
should be sampled:
- incoming water supply
- all humidifiers
- evaporative coolers
- sample a representative number of hatcher and setter spray nozzles and moisture pans
in the incubators.
*Any appearance of Pseudomonas should instigate an investigation.
Hatchery Hygiene Index:
Correlate this index with field chick mortality over the first 7-10 days.
General causes of early chick mortality are:
- yolk sac infection
- dehydration/non starters
- trauma, spraddle legs
- bacterial infection other than yolk sac infection
- respiratory tract damage from over fumigation in the hatcher
- respiratory tract damage from spray-vaccine reaction
- leg problems
- chick transportation/ventilation problems.
- brooding and brooding environment problems.
√If early mortality is high and yolk sac infection is a large proportion then hatching egg
quality and hatchery or egg sanitation needs to be improved.
√If dehydration is the main cause of mortality then set/pull times and hatchery ventilation
need investigation.
Frequency of Hatchery Monitoring:
Your monitoring programme should be carried out at least monthly or as required and should
be:
- quick to carry out
- simple to evaluate with charting of results over time
- be random within certain set priority areas (see below)
- able to be performed by hatchery personnel
- - be done at an appropriate time in the hatchery cycle to provide a meaningful check
on the cleaning/disinfection
- Samples should be submitted to the laboratory on a Monday, Tuesday or
Wednesday
- Preferably submit plates on the same day as sampling otherwise place in a refrigerator
Hatchery Hygiene Monitoring
at 4° C overnight (not a freezer) and submit on ice the next day.
Selecting Sampling Points for Laboratory Analysis
NB. Carefully think about sample points (contact and exposure) and choose the time when
sampling will be done ie. pre-hatch, post hatch, pre-clean up etc. and stick to these
points/times for comparison purposes (Figure 1).
Hatchery Hygiene Monitoring
Figure 1
An example of Sampling Points to be used in the hatchery and number of samples for
each point:1 Mareks vaccine as-mixed sample*
1 Spray vaccine as-mixed sample (eg IB/NCD)
1 Mareks vaccine at injection*
1 NCD vaccine at injection (if oil vaccine used)
1 Auto vaccinator cabinet/spray.
1 Egg receiving room sample
1 Egg room air sample
1 Egg store room sample
1 Setter hall air sample
6 Setter air samples
1 Hatcher hall air sample
4 Hatcher air samples
4 Hatching tray contact samples
1 Hatcher wall contact sample
1 Hatcher door contact sample
1 Hatcher ceiling contact sample
1 Hatcher fan contact sample
1 Hatcher spray nozzle contact sample
1 Vaccine room air sample
1 Chick take-off room air sample
1 Chick belt contact sample
1 Chick slide contact sample
1 Chick holding room sample
1 Chick holding room air sample
1 Delivery truck contact sample
Crate and delivery truck samples to suit.
*Only applies to breeder flocks.
Figure 2


In this example the sampling thus includes: 16 air samples (exposure plates), 5 vaccine
samples (onto exposure plates), 15 contact samples (contact plates) = 36 samples in total.
The number of samples used will depend on the particular hatchery being monitored or the
area being specifically looked at. Consult your poultry veterinarian before starting your
programme as the sampling points and numbers should remain constant throughout the testing
Hatchery Hygiene Monitoring


period for a particular hatchery.
Number/identify all plates used preferably with Permanent Koki Pen (eg Artline) (Company,
Hatchery, sample point number, date etc.)
Draw up a corresponding list to submit with the plates to the laboratory (Figure 1).
Figure 3

Figure 4
Exposure time for air samples on contact plates is 20 – 30 minutes (Figure 3 and 4). To use
the exposure plates, simply place the plate on a horizontal surface, remove the lid for
the desired exposure time (eg 30 minutes) and then replace the lid. Ensure exposure
time is consistent to allow for comparison of scores. Ensure each plate is accurately labelled
on the plate as well as the corresponding submission form.
Figure 5

Figure 6
Contact (Rhodac) Plates: remove the lid of the plate, press the agar gently against the
selected surface to be tested (horizontal or vertical) and replace the lid taking care not
to touch the agar. Label all plates clearly as outlined above.
Hatchery Hygiene Monitoring
Figure 7

A few drops of vaccine sample are dropped onto an exposure plate and the plate
immediately closed and then gently tilted to spread the vaccine over the agar (Figure 7).
Figure 8

All plates are scored in the laboratory post incubation for bacterial and fungal growth. The
total score is based 50:50 on bacterial and fungal counts. The growth on each plate is ranked
and given a score factor (Figure 8).
A final Hygiene Index is then calculated for both bacterial and fungal scores and an overall index
determined.
Hatchery Hygiene Monitoring
Storage and Reading of Contact + Exposure Plates
Storage
Both contact and exposure plates must be stored at 4oC (not to be frozen) and preferably
remain in their sealed packets or containers until used. If any plates appear rough and/or
cracked, discard these as they have been frozen and the agar is damaged. (To prevent other
plates freezing simply move the plates to a slightly warmer part of the fridge eg: near the
door or turn the temperature control up slightly). If any colonies appear on the agar before
use please return this batch of plates to the laboratory. This batch will be replaced.
Contamination is minimised as much as possible during production but cannot always be
totally eliminated.
Control Plates
Two or more marked “control plates” are supplied with each batch of plates. These plates
should be subject to the same conditions as the test plates but remain unopened and returned
to the laboratory with the test plates.
Reading
Once the plates are received at the laboratory, they are incubated for 24 hours at 37oC, after
which they are scored for bacterial growth according to the table attached (Figure 8). They
are then incubated at 30° C for a further 24 hours and then scored for fungal growth. Fungal
colonies are then evaluated to determine the presence of Aspergillus species.