There’s always a lot of activity outside at MacFarlane’s. The pheasant pens are full now that the weather has evened out, there’s always something that needs to be mowed and it just seems people and birds just do a lot more moving around at the start of the summer.
There’s a lot of activity inside, too. The crew at the hatchery is waiting for the chicks and when the hatch is done, there’s cleaning and then we start all over. Eggs spend about 20 days in the incubators and then trays of eggs are moved on wheeled carts from the incubator room to the hatcher room.
The trays from the incubator go on a device that rotates the entire tray – gently – 180 degrees and then deposits the eggs in a mesh screen basket. The baskets are then moved onto dollies and into the hatchery. Eggs are fragile and the eggs from different species are different sizes, but breakage is not a problem.
The hatchers contain stacked up trays of eggs which have been candled once to make sure the trays are full of fertile eggs. In the incubators, infertile eggs are removed and the fertile eggs are positioned together in the center of the tray. Keeping the fertile eggs all together ensures they maintain a constant state of warmth and humidity.
The trays are transferred from the incubator room, where they spend about 21 days, to the hatchery and crews quickly go through the trays condensing all the fertile eggs and then load them on to wire mesh bottomed baskets in the hatchers.