Vencomatic Group is considered to be the leader of on-farm hatching in traditional broiler houses. This pioneering work ultimately resulted in the X-Treck system. Victor van Wagenberg has been involved since the beginning as product manager in the development of this complete on-farm hatching system.
Victor van Wagenberg (44) studied Agricultural Engineering at Wageningen University & Research and 12 years ago started at Vencomatic Group when the company began developing on-farm hatching systems. “At that time we found hatching eggs in traditional broiler houses instead of at a hatchery quite exciting. You can only see an egg and you have to trust that one day a chick will hatch! But we believed, and in 2006 the Patio-system was developed. We further developed the Patio-system and four years ago the X-Treck was created.”
Crucial first place
The X-Treck uses plastic belts with litter on – called the ‘cradle’. Van Wagenberg says “The cradle is crucial because this is where the chicks arrive after hatching. Once hatched, they are still completely wet, and they need to be able to dry quickly so as not to become excessively cooled. The cradle facilitates this perfectly, because the belt is positioned off the ground, meaning the chicks air dry quickly at 35 degrees Celsius – a lot warmer than the concrete floor that is sometimes only 25 degrees Celsius.”
Good care during every stage
Van Wagenberg insists that you are not taking full care of the chick if you only consider the newly hatched chick. “There are three chick stages: in the egg, just hatched but not yet dry, and dry on the ground. The trick is to take care of the chick during every stage, which is made possible with X-Treck. For eggs which are yet to hatch, it should not be too cold but certainly not too hot. Egg temperature is best maintained if there is only air around the egg. You only have to maintain the correct air temperature.”
Correct temperature balance
In other on-farm hatching systems, eggs often lie with 30-40 percent of their surface in thick litter or in a cardboard tray. This creates a barrier through which the egg cannot get any heat, and then it becomes difficult to create the right temperature balance for the egg. An egg also produces heat itself and on such a surface it can quickly become too hot. In X-Treck, the eggs are set in trays with minimal contact to ensure that there is only air surrounding the egg.
Reduce manual labour
An important idea behind X-Treck is that it also means less work, especially during the turnaround period when the poultry farmer is already very busy and often across several houses. Other on-farm hatching systems use cardboard boxes which create a lot of work – sometimes thousands of boxes have to be collected after hatching, in houses where temperatures reach 35 degrees. In X-Treck, after hatching, the trays are automatically delivered to the operator making removal easier.
With all this, of course, the shortest possible empty period of house and warm-up time is very important. “X-Treck also has a unique feature – it can be winched. After placing the eggs you can lift the whole system up into the upper layer of warm air. The floor doesn’t need to be fully warmed up, and even the wood shavings may be brought in after the eggs have been placed in the house. This feature minimizes the empty period and warm-up time.”
“When I summarize all these advantages, as a product manager who participated in the development of this X-Treck system, I declare that this is the most complete and fully developed on-farm hatching system”.