As human world population increases the need of ensure food access and high-quality nutrition is essential. The broiler industry has been able to demonstrate an accelerated growth that get along with the market needs. However, the process to obtain high yields depends on several factors included the incubation process.
Each evaluation process across the production chain contributes to improve meat yield. The determination of good quality chicks helps increase profitability and reduce the losses in the poultry industry. Nevertheless, key evaluation factors are often overlooked leading to a misclassification of chicks.
How to determine chick quality?
At hatch, chicks must display certain traits that have been associated to good development in the farm and consequently, high meat yield.
“A hatched and dried high- quality chick should have bright eyes, should not have any deformity or injury on the body, should have a completely closed navel and a fully retracted yolk, and should be separated from the remaining membrane and shell.”
Activity is also an important factor expressed as the chick’s ability to react to stimuli and be interested in its environment. Chick legs have to be in good conditions without swelling, redness or anatomical abnormalities. Main traits are summarized in the following tables, reported by Boerjan (2002) and Tona et al., (2003). These are the main qualitative traits usually employed to evaluate the chick quality, but some quantitative measures can be used.
Criteria for determining chick quality in the Pasgar score method.
Criteria for determining chick quality in the Tona score method.
Several studies have evaluated the morphological measurements as indicator for broiler performance. Chick weight tend to be the preferred parameter when assessing chicks. Still, body weight may not an appropriate measure since it can include the residual yolk. Additionally, the strong correlation between egg weight and body weight could make difficult an objective evaluation.
Chick length has been proposed as an alternative for chick weight. This measure is determined by “stretching a chick along a ruler and measuring the length from the tip of the beak to the end of the middle toe”. Some authors report that chick length is associated to yolk-free body weight and works as a predictor for chick performance.
Factors that can affect the chick quality
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Source: D. Narinç & E. Aydemir (2021): Chick quality: an overview of measurement techniques and influencing factors, World’s Poultry Science Journal, DOI: 10.1080/00439339.2021.1892469
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