The “hatch window” is known as the 24 to 48 hours period during which eggs hatch. The newly hatched chickens remain in the incubator until all the eggs have hatched, after which chicks are collected. After collection, chickens undergo routine treatments such as selection, vaccination, sex determination and sorting. Then they are transported to the farm. From the moment of hatching until their arrival to the farm, chickens are usually not given neither water nor food. The length of this period may vary depending on the hatchery window, the hatchery procedures and the trip’s length to the farm. The time elapsed before the administration of the first water and feed can even be up to 72 hours. While the yolk sac may be sufficient for the first few hours of chicks’ survival, all the other requirements fail during the long hours until their arrival to the farm. The chicks come out from an embryonic condition in which the energy basis of their nutrition is yolk’s fat and egg white’s proteins. Immediately after birth, during the first hours of life there is a significant reduction in the endogenous glycogen levels, which need to be replaced preferably by glycogen from the consumption of corn starch or another source of starch. Chicks need to learn quickly to consume feed to allow their digestive system to undergo rapid anatomical and physiological transformation. Furthermore, early feed consumption also promotes the rapid development of the immune system. The chicks must also quickly learn to consume water to compensate for any dehydration that could occur from the hatch until their arrival at the farm, thus also favouring the consumption and digestibility of feed.
Access to food and water immediately after hatching is of paramount importance for chicks’ digestive and immune systems proper development. Nowadays, there are food management systems right in the incubator. In these systems, the hatching trays have openings in which the newly hatched chicks fall into a lower basket where they can find double-sided feeders with sufficient feed and water for the following 24-36 hours. This first feed provides the energy needed for the basic maintenance of the chick, while yolk’s high value nutrients are used for the development of the immune system and vital organs.
A recent innovative method to ensure the ingestion of nutriment from the first hours of life is the administration of hydrated gels that contain an increasing variety of nutrients and additives, such as vitamins and probiotics. These gels, considered as complementary feed, are sprayed on chicks in form of droplets directly in the incubators. These droplets are quickly consumed by pecking each other. In this way, chicks ingest all the nutrients contained in the gel drops without getting wet or cold.
LICUICEL COMPLEX ® is one of the most promising strategy for feeding chicks directly in the incubation room. The product can be administered together with gel and specialized machines as it contains an innovative formulation that includes several nutrients, vitamins, minerals, highly digestible amino acids, and prebiotics that promote the stimulation of gastrointestinal development and functioning, and influence positively the growth and the productive yield, thus favouring poultry welfare.
The main ingredients that characterize and make LICUICEL COMPLEX® unique are the following: