Jan Quirijnen (55) from Lage Mierde keeps broilers. In three houses, there are 76,800 slow-growing chickens in total. Jan has extensively tested systems and products for the hatching of chicks in the house. In the end he chose X-Treck because this system is, in his opinion, the most complete.
All three houses of Jan are now equipped with this system. Jan: Some time ago I borrowed racks from a colleague; that's how I started. It works with one barn, but it becomes too labour-intensive if you start working with racks in three barns. X-Treck is much easier and less labour-intensive. As slow-growers I have Star chickens that go to the Jumbo and then sit in a barn 100 metres long with 25,000 chicks. That is why I can easily go out with one line of X-Treck per house.
Better intestinal tract
A stressless start for the chicks; this is how on-farm hatching is often described. Jan Quirijnen completely agrees: Because the eggs hatch in the house, the chicks don't experience stress from abstinence like in a hatchery and during transport from the hatchery to the house. Providing feed and water is the basis for a good intestinal flora. In addition, the incubators are automatically transported in and out of the hatchery; this saves me extra work. After hatching the eggs, I no longer have to walk through the chicks, but I can collect the incubators in one place in the house and easily remove the egg shells. Reducing stress makes for a healthier and more vital chick. I also hear that the use of medication is less with X-Treck but I can't judge that very well. There are slow-growing chickens in my stables and in three years I haven't had to take any medication.
Of course, letting the chicks hatch in the barn does mean that the temperature has to be in order. I make sure it is 36 degrees Celsius in the house; the egg temperature should be around 37 degrees. When I started building new houses, I chose wood-burning stoves, which burn cheaply. I use a heat exchanger and that works well with the X-Treck system. Under the system I have underfloor heating, which is quite unique. Without underfloor heating, we work with a plastic band that is mounted under the X-Treck system. Because of my underfloor heating, I don't need a tyre. The chicks can look up the temperature they like most in the litter on the concrete floor themselves.
The system is easy to clean: A matter of blowing with the high-pressure sprayer over it and spraying where it is needed in a more targeted manner. Many parts are made of stainless steel, which is quick to clean. And the chicks are only on it for two days, so it's not really dirty. If you have a system with a plastic band, you probably have some more cleaning to do.
Jan sums it up once more: X-Treck is a beautiful system. It's a bit more work: it used to be just scattering the chicks and ready. Now you have more cleaning work and the dishes have to be removed. But now you can see the chicks hatching and that's great. Because the chicks can eat from day one and don't get stressed by transport, it is also an animal friendly solution. But I do think that the poultry farmer should continue to have the choice and not that animal protection organisations should make it compulsory for the chicks to hatch in the house.