Hatching pheasant eggs requires an incubation time of 23-25 days. The incubation time is affected by temperature, genetics and management; these factors are considered the most important part of hatching in our hatchery department. There are two different processes to hatch poultry eggs – single-stage and multi-stage incubation. We use multi-stage incubation at MacFarlane, but both processes are effective.
Single-stage incubation is an “all in, all out” system, meaning an entire incubator is filled with one hatch. Most of the chicken, duck and poultry industry use this method because it allows for cleaning of the machines between hatches to improve biosecurity. New model incubators are also programmable to cater to individual hatches and allow for variable temperatures based on the point of development in the eggs.
Multi-stage incubation is the system we use at MacFarlane Pheasants. It is a staggered set of multiple hatches in smaller quantities. For example, our incubators hold three weeks worth of eggs. By doing this, our incubators are more energy efficient because they use the heat produced from further developed embryos. We are also able to capture some of the CO2 produced. This can help “jump start” the freshest eggs being pushed into the machines. When using multi-stage incubation, there are a few extra precautions that need to be taken for biosecurity purposes:
- Washing and disinfecting eggs
- Fogging the incubation room weekly as eggs are set
- Candling/removing eggs that are infertile to prevent contamination from decomposing eggs
In general, single stage produces slightly better hatch rates over multistage. Hatch rates for single stage can potentially be 2% higher than multistage. Rarely is it greater than 2% but, depending on the total quantity of chicks throughout the season, it can add up quickly. This is another reason most of the poultry industry has transitioned over to single stage.