Hatchability – Could Micronutrients Play a Role?

Hatchability is important not only for planning and producing saleable day-old chicks but also for the quality of chicks and their growth and development throughout their lifecycle. The ability of a fertilized egg to develop into a viable chick depends on many factors. Temperature, humidity, airflow, biosecurity, and time are important components for ideal hatching.  Another factor that plays a role in hatchability success is optimum nutrition, it is vital to overall health and should be safeguarded to ensure hatchability rates.

The nutritional status of parent stock is imperative for optimal growth and development of offspring. Nutrients are transferred from hen to egg, therefore optimum intake is critical. Inadequate levels of nutrients can cause a decrease in hatchability (Wilson 1997). The requirements of the chick can be met by adequately supplementing the hen to ensure proper levels of macro and micronutrients are deposited into the yolk (the chicks food source).

Vitamins and minerals interact in numerous ways, meaning the proper balance of nutrients are important but also complicated. For example, vitamin A, vitamin D, copper, zinc and magnesium interact closely. if one of these micronutrients is unbalanced it could impact the absorption and utilization of another. Supplementing birds with suitable micronutrient levels will have an impact on their performance, growth, development, health, and hatchability.

Research tells us...

  • Vitamin D, trace minerals, and phosphorus are mainly derived from the yolk explaining the importance of maternal nutrition (Torres et al 2018)
  • Vitamin C and E significantly increase hatchability (Ghane, et al. 2021)
  • Vitamin D and 25OHD3 have found to increase hatchability (Saunders-Blades and Korver 2015)
  • Vitamin A supplementation can improve hatchability to an ideal level (Squires and Naber 1993)

Industry tell us...

Reasons for hatchability decline

  • High infertility: due to impotent males, unreceptive females, incorrect male to female ratios, mycotoxins in the feed, sexual maturity delays, feed imbalances, high stocking densities, poor ventilation, overweight breeders, lighting problem, etc.
  • Elevated embryo mortality between 1–4 days of incubation: due to egg management, egg room temperature and relative humidity, duration of egg storage, and sperm age and quality.
  • Elevated embryo mortality between 5–18 day of incubation: due to machine management, egg turning, too high or low temperature and relative humidity.
  • Increased dead in shells: due to poor ventilation in the hatcher, malpositioned embryos, and poor ambient conditions.

Current industry trends

  • As of March 5th broiler eggs set in the U.S. had a hatchability of 79.3%. This average hatchability is calculated by dividing chicks hatched by the eggs set three weeks prior.
  • Broiler chick hatchability is down 1% from previous year
  • Layer chick hatchability is roughly the same as this time last year. 


Wilson, H.R. 1997. Effects of maternal nutrition on hatchability. 76; 134-143. Journal of Poultry Science

Torres, C.A., Korver, D.R. 2018. Influences of trace mineral nutrition and maternal flock age on broiler embryo bone development. Journal of Poultry Science.

Ghane, F. et al. 2021 Effects of in ovo feeding of vitamin E or Vitamin C on egg hatchability, performance, carcass traits and immunity in broiler chickens.

Yang et al. 2021. Effects of dietary vitamin D supplementation on laying performance, hatchability, and antioxidant status in molted broiler breeder hens.

Saunders-Blade, J. L., Korver, D.R. 2015. Effect of hen age and maternal vitamin D source on performance, hatchability, bone mineral density, and progeny in vitro early innate immune function.

Butcher, G.D. and Nilipour, A.H. 2002. A systematic approach to solving hatchability and chick quality problems. 

Published on

18 April 2022



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