Identifying broiler meat production challenges in Ghana: focusing on hatchery performance

Thumbnail Image
MAY, 2016
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The hatchery and hatching egg industry has performed minimally in Ghana over the past 20 years. As a result importation of day old chicks in Ghana has increased considerably. The objective of the current study was to provide inventory of actively operating hatcheries in Ghana and identify common incubation procedures and factors in selected hatcheries that may be affecting poultry embryo development, hatchability, chick quality and broiler growth. Three studies were carried out. In Experiment 1, a survey was carried out on all active hatcheries to take inventory of human resource strength and qualification, hatchery output, capacity of operation, availability of parent stock, common hatchery practices put in place to increased chick quality, day old chick production and market outlets, rates of chick mortality, distance of hatcheries from breeding farms, audit of hatcheries that imported eggs to hatch, type of incubators used and incubation system applied and whether hatcheries provide any follow-up on farms that take chicks from them. In Experiment 2, common incubation procedure and factors that may be affecting poultry embryo development, hatchability, chick quality and broiler growth in 2 selected hatcheries (Hatcheries A and B) were studied which represented trial 1 and trial 2. Hatchery performance were compared based on the age of parents flocks and days in which eggs were stored prior to incubation. In each trial, eggs were weighed and stored before incubation. Upon hatching 120 day old chicks were transported to the Microbiology laboratory at the Department of Animal Science, KNUST for dissection. Parameters measured included were eggs weight before and after storage, chick quality parameters and incubation parameter. All data were either transformed or analysed statistically using the Generalized Linear Model Procedure of SAS 9.4 at p<0.05. In Experiment 1, the results showed that there were 9 hatcheries in Ghana operating actively as at the year 2013 in hatching broiler or layer chicks or both. Out of this, 7 responded to the survey questions. Only two of these hatcheries were operating 60 and 68% of v their full capacity (38,000 and 115,200 eggs respectively). The type of incubators used included ChickMaster, Buckeye, Asefac, Petersime, Westing and Beckier. All the hatcheries were operating with the multistage incubation system(different ages of eggs are incubated at the same time in one machine). Only one hatchery had a single stage incubator (one incubator is loaded in one go with one type of egg. The incubator is empty after transfer). Three of the 7 hatcheries provided basic training for all staff and additional three provided training for about 40 to 70 % of their staff. All these training were on the job. Three of the hatcheries had their own parent stock, while the rest buy eggs or depended on farmers contracting them to hatch. Major hatchability challenges reported were dead in shells, unsealed navels, twisted beak, wet chicks, and blind chicks among others. In Trials 1 and 2 the results showed significance difference in chick length, shank length and proportion of yolk free body mass and residual yolk sac between different maternal flock ages and storage treatments irrespective of the kind of hatchery. There was variation in the incubation conditions from one hatchery to other. The temperature and relative humidity in the egg storage rooms were 16 o C and 75% in hatchery A compared to 20 o C and 38% in hatchery B. These variations can result in different chick qualities and which is likely to be lower in hatchery B some of these qualities included twisted beak, wet chicks, unsealed navel, blind chicks. The variabilities in incubation techniques resulting in varied chick quality parameters could be due to lack of technical understanding of incubation and therefore need to be addressed
A dissertation submitted to The School of Graduated Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Master of Philosophy Animal Breeding and Genetics.