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State of the art hatchery opens to supply Australian egg farmers

State of the art hatchery opens to supply Australian egg farmers
Specialised Breeders Australia (SBA) is the largest supplier of day old chicks and point of lay pullets to the Australian egg industry. Based close to the Victorian city of Bendigo and employing more than 140 staff, SBA supplies the world’s leading layer breeds, Hy-Line Brown and LOHMANN BROWN to Australian egg producers.

Custom designed hatchery in Rochester

A company press statement released on May 8 announced production had commenced at a custom designed hatchery in Rochester, Victoria. This hatchery is the culmination of more than five years of sourcing, design and construction work and will provide Australian egg farmers with a secure supply of high quality livestock for decades to come. Richard Rayner, CEO of SBA, explained “We have been able to take advantage of recent advancements in single stage incubation technology and a new process known as SPIDES (Short Periods of Incubation During Egg Storage). These improvements result in more consistent, better quality hatches which means a dependable supply of high quality chicks for our customers.

The new hatchery has been designed with an eye to the future, allowing for rapid capacity expansion into the existing structure and site planning permission in place to double capacity through further development.”

“The $19 million project has been completed using Petersime Incubators and Ecat automation from Belgium and France respectively and contractors from around regional Victoria. “Designing a new hatchery from the ground up has given SBA the ability to create a state of the art facility with world class bio-security, including an off-site truck and chick basket wash, alongside the best available chick processing technology to ensure efficient processing at the highest possible welfare standards,” Mr Rayner said.

“Welcome to the world’s newest hatchery,”

The new hatchery will be staffed by a mixture of workers transferring from SBA’s existing hatchery and residents of the Rochester district.

“Welcome to the world’s newest hatchery,” said Mr Rayner, when welcoming guests to the new Rochester facility on March 30. “We thought that this would be a good opportunity to show you around before we go into biosecurity lock down.

“The facility features the latest and most advanced hatchery design and technology and the company is both ISO and HACCP accredited. “Apart from being the leading supplier of layer genetics with the world’s best two layer breeds, SBA supply Seqirus (formerly CSL) with hatching eggs for human flu vaccine manufacture. “Our market share of layer genetics rose to 65% in 2016 and is projected to continue increasing” he said. “There is the question of our responsibility as a critical supplier to the layer industry where biosecurity, supply continuity and redundancy are our paramount concerns.”

Biosecurity and key risks

In defining differences between existing hatchery infrastructure and the new Rochester facility, Mr Rayner identified key risks as being the hatchery and production site on the same location and trucks and chick baskets returning to the hatchery. The new direction for SBA, to reduce risk and increase security, involves a new hatchery and four parent stock farms with a significant biosecurity buffer between each operation.

“A remote truck wash and delivery basket sanitation depot and three new chick delivery trucks with state of the art Van Ravenhorst bodies with increased systems back up capability.”

These trucks have two generators to ensure that a stable temperature can be maintained for the chicks at all times. The trucks cover some of the greatest distances on the planet and operate in temperatures from cool temperate in the south to tropical conditions up north.

Research for design and equipment

“There have been years of research devoted to selecting the best design and equipment for our new hatchery with the key aims of improving chick quality, hygiene levels and having the ability for future expansion. “We experienced 12 months of delays due to objections and VCAT interventions,” Mr Rayner explained. “The design parameters were to employ the best available incubation and automation technology and achieve the best process flow and building hygiene. “We wanted to use the best possible heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) for optimum conditions and airflow direction. Water sanitation is also of critical importance.

“SBA partnered with Petersime for a number of reasons including the fact that they were technologically advanced, offered good back up and support in Australia, are easy to clean and energy efficient. “Most of all however, is that we believe their product will produce the best quality chicks.

New Systems

“The single stage design feature of the Petersime equipment is superior to multi stage incubation, offers better single batch control with a tighter hatch spread delivering better hatchability, better chick quality and better liveability.”

Mr Rayner went on to explain the “short periods of incubation during egg storage (SPIDES) delivered a more even start to incubation, better hatchability, better chick uniformity and required less donor flocks per placement”.

ECAT Automation is a French based company producing hatchery handling systems for small, medium and large scale operations. “Our new ECAT systems mean less manual handling of eggs leading to better hatchability and improved chick quality,” Mr Rayner explained. “The systems consist of auto trolley, tray and basket washing, drying and sanitising to improve hygiene levels. “Efficient and accurate chick handling which includes technologically advanced chick counters delivers accurate chick numbers per box delivered to our customers. “In a modern and hygienic hatchery, ventilation and air flow is of critical importance. “In our clean to dirty airflow strategy we have the highest (+ve) pressure in cleanest areas and lowest in dirtiest areas.

Maximum possible building hygiene

“Achieving maximum possible building hygiene, involved detailed design planning and some major investment. “Floors are not bare concrete which can degrade but epoxy sealed. “All drains and automation equipment are fabricated in stainless steel. There is movement sensitive lighting (no manual switches) and no conduits or power points on wall surfaces and finally there is a ring main sanitation system,” Mr Rayner said.

“The new facility will have a capacity of 14 million chicks a year and the design allows for extra incubators within the existing building in order to double that capacity as market demand grows. “Planning approval is in place to extend the building when required in order to increase capacity and we can move to four day hatching and use the same processing areas and equipment.
“New farm sites will also contribute to our ability to double current capacity. “So we have a new hatchery, new farms, new trucks and a dedicated truck and chick basket sanitising depot. “All this will improve our quality, biosecurity and capacity to supply a growing industry,” Mr Rayner concluded. With the friendly assistance of Peter Bedwell, Poultry Digest and SBA Australia.

With the friendly assistance of Peter Bedwell, Poultry Digest and SBA Australia!