Archive for January, 2018

Training in the USA: hands-on knowledge sharing in hatchery management

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Training is a unique contributor to NatureForm’s rapid growth across the USA and Canada and, earlier this year, a group of 14 hatchery professionals came together to take part in a three-day Hatchery Management Training programme.

Hosted by NatureForm, the course was delivered by Pas Reform Academy and included access to House of Raeford’s fully integrated new hatchery in South Carolina. The course is not limited to customers of NatureForm and Pas Reform, although delegates must work in a managerial or senior role with responsibility for day-to-day hatchery management. On this occasion, attendance included delegates from leading hatcheries and a vaccine supplier.

The importance of people

“We may all recognise the increasing role of automation and data-based software and systems in the modern hatchery,” says course director Gerd de Lange, “but people are vital to the success of any hatchery operation.

“It takes good, up-to-date knowledge, high levels of skill and not least a positive, proactive attitude to deliver optimal production results. Machines and clever systems are only as good as the people operating them and translating results to fine-tune performance.”

With this belief at the heart of the Hatchery Management course, Pas Reform Academy’s approach to training is highly interactive.

The course is designed to strengthen participants’ skills in three areas: the evaluation and analysis of hatchery performance; the ability to recognize weaknesses in egg handling and incubation procedures and remedy them using the “tools” provided, and the knowledge to modify egg handling and incubation processes, to improve hatchery performance.

Prior to attending, participants are invited to pre-submit key questions that they would like to have answered. This ensures that as well as learning from trainers about the most up-to-date research and the very latest techniques being employed in hatcheries worldwide, delegates also have the chance to share experiences and insights with each other.

Egg to chick optimisation: training for results

In South Carolina, a variety of topics, from ‘egg quality from breeder farm to hatchery’ to ‘hatchery climate control’, were discussed and supported by presentations.

For practical sessions and hands-on training, House of Raeford’s state-of-the-art hatchery hosted two visits, the first focusing on the egg receiving and setter room, and the second dedicated entirely to the hatcher room and chick handling.

During these visits, both egg and chick quality were evaluated and a break-out analysis performed, all in a setting that gave participants the opportunity to see and experience advanced Smart™ incubation and hatchery automation systems first-hand in a live production environment.

Sharing ideas and insights, says Barry Vincent, Breeder/Hatchery Specialist at Tyson Foods, adds great depth to the experience: “The training is really comprehensive, it’s amazing what can be covered in just three days.

“Sharing insights with other hatchery professionals from their own experiences has been a really valuable aspect of the whole experience. The training has given me a range of new tools and insights that I can take away to improve analysis, processes and performance as soon as I get back to the hatchery, and I’ve met new friends in the industry too!”

Future training opportunities

NatureForm will be running further hatchery management training courses in 2018. If you would like further information or to pre-register your interest in attending, please email

Miller Poultry contracts NatureForm for new hatchery renovation in Indiana

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Miller Poultry, a producer of Amish-grown, antibiotic free poultry, has commissioned a complete renovation of its broiler hatchery in Goshen, Indiana with SmartPro™ NF single stage incubation.

The refurbished hatchery will be equipped with 27 technologically advanced SmartPro™ NF setters, accompanying hatchers and supporting ventilation, for a weekly setting capacity of approximately 1.1 million eggs.

SmartPro™ NF single stage incubation allows for precise, zonal temperature control, which delivers a higher hatch of fertiles and superior chick uniformity. Miller’s entire incubation and hatching process will be integrated with the SmartCenterPro™ hatchery management system, Pas Reform’s most advanced, next generation hatchery information software, to aid in quality control, preventative maintenance and hatch cycle analysis.

Commenting on the new project, Vice President Live Operations Stephen Shepard said: “It is the right time to significantly upgrade our hatchery and go 100 per cent single stage. When we analysed the health, robustness and uniformity of the day-old chicks produced by our current SmartPro™ NF single stage equipment, we were left in no doubt that this was the best route to continue innovating incubation in our company.

“We have been extremely pleased with our relationship with NatureForm, so they were the natural choice to support our plans.”

Miller Poultry, family owned since 1942, specializes in antibiotic free, all vegetable-fed poultry that are raised on small Amish family farms.

Owner Galen Miller adds, “We are one of the original users of NatureForm single stage equipment. It has been great to watch them grow and advance over the years and we are happy to move forward together with them in this new phase of our operations.”

Jack Hubbell, Vice President of Sales for NatureForm comments: “We are excited about the opportunity to grow with Miller Poultry. We have known them for many years and it is really special to be a chosen supplier for such a quality-conscious company.”

Smart and integrated: Quebec’s Couvoir Réal Côté looks to the future

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Family-owned Couvoir Réal Côté, a well-known and long-standing business in the Canadian hatchery industry, is to expand operations to 400,000 broilers per week for the Quebec market, with a fully integrated new facility that will be built around a brand new SmartPro™ single-stage hatchery at its Ange-Gardien site.

With 12 SmartSetPro™2 incubators, 12 SmartSetPro™4 incubators and 14 SmartHatchPro™ hatchers, the new installation will also include a total overhaul of the hatchery’s climate control system, with air handling units that use 100% fresh air to eliminate the need for recirculated air and a completely new chilled water system. Hatchery automation will also be replaced, with stackers, de-stackers and a new transfer, candling and clear egg removal unit as part of the project.

New washing machines, a vacuum system and a farm-to-setter trolley stacker/destacker are also included. The complete system will be connected by advanced, web-based SmartCenterPro™ hatchery management software, to deliver realtime analysis and reporting across the entire operation, both from Réal Côté’s office in Ange Gardien, or remotely from support teams at Pas Reform’s Zeddam HQ in The Netherlands or NatureForm in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Production of the day-old broiler chicks will be split over two weekly hatches,” explains Martin Lavoie, hatchery manager, “and with the ability to analyse hatches both on site and remotely, we will work closely with Pas Reform’s technical team to ensure that performance is optimised.”

“After 38 years of operation, it was time to renew the hatchery,” says Réal Côté, founder and president . “We have been providing quality day old chicks to the Quebec market all these years, and we are very happy to continue working with Pas Reform as we look to the future. Our customers want nothing but the highest quality broilers from us.”

The company started incubating broiler eggs 38 years ago and, he says, if it’s up to him they will continue to do so for another 38 years. “With this investment, we not only replace, upgrade and expand our current operation, but we are also building in room for further expansion in the future.”

“When I visited the Réal Côté hatchery for the first time back in 2003, people were surprised to see someone from Pas Reform, a Dutch company, in North America,” comments Bouke Hamminga, Pas Reform’s director of international sales and business development. “Since then, Pas Reform’s international presence has grown significantly and our partnership with NatureForm has emphasised our commitment to this market. We are very happy to have jointly progressed this collaboration with Couvoir Réal Côté – and the best is yet to come!”

A five year SmartCare™ preventive maintenance and hatchery support programme is also part of the new contract, which plans to have the expanded and refitted new hatchery fully operational by the end of 2018.

360° SmartCare™ in the USA: innovation in service and support

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

There are, says Pas Reform’s CEO Harm Langen, many ways to innovate. And as the world’s only single-source supplier of fully integrated hatchery solutions, Pas Reform and its US partner NatureForm have taken a wide view, to deliver innovation across the full range of products and services.

“SmartCare™ is one such development,” says Harm Langen, “a multi-faceted approach to service and support that that has grown out of our experience of working with more than 1,000 hatcheries worldwide. It delivers across three pillars of planning, project and lifetime services to support each ‘life stage’ of a hatchery project.

“Customers themselves choose from a number of options – there are 21 service categories in all – to create a support package that is fully customised to meet their own, particular needs.”

It’s a new concept that represents a paradigm shift in how service and support are provided in the industry – and one that is rapidly gaining ground for many of Pas Reform and NatureForm’s hatchery customers worldwide.

House of Raeford: leading the way in the USA

In the USA, House of Raeford’s affiliate Columbia Farms was first to adopt SmartCare™, with a Lifetime Services contract to support its state-of-the-art SmartPro™ hatchery in Monetta, South Carolina.
With a skilled and experienced team in place, Columbia designed their own contract to include:

  • Helpdesk support, to maximize support availability and response times
  • SmartCenterPro™ hardware & software support, including the delivery of all new system releases and updates and hardware replacement support, should it be required
  • Recommended spare parts, to ensure that spare parts are always in stock
  • Remote analysis and advice, for periodic reports based on SmartCenterPro™ data, with results and recommendations
  • Periodic inspections, to provide structural equipment inspections
  • Incubation consultancy, for independent, hatchery-wide reviews that include reporting and recommendations from Pas Reform Academy’s hatchery specialists

Complex manager Jim Mabe headed the team that worked with NatureForm and Pas Reform to create Columbia Farms’ SmartCare™ package. He says: “The Monetta facility is a state-of-the-art hatchery and, when we made the decision for SmartPro™ setters, hatchers, HVAC and automation, we signed up to levels of technological advancement that would ensure we deliver the best possible birds for our network of growers.

“High levels of technical support and backup from NatureForm in Jacksonville were a vital ingredient of our ultimate decision – and SmartCare™ brings another level to that for us, with a package that we’ve been able to select according to our own, very specific needs.”

SmartCare™ has, says NatureForm’s president Steve Warren, been developed to deliver an assurance of efficient, uninterrupted performance at every level of hatchery operations. “SmartCare™ is a 360° approach through which we share our knowledge, people, expertise and experience at every stage of planning, building, commissioning and beyond.”

Smart apps and 24/7 support

Columbia’s own staff are well trained and have a great deal of experience, but as Assistant Complex Manager David Rush explains, it was important that they were up to speed with the new system as quickly as possible.

“For that reason, the company’s customised SmartCare™ package includes a fortnightly skype call to discuss any questions, follow up on open points and share knowledge and ideas. The SmartCare™ Helpdesk is available 24/7 to work closely with maintenance staff and the hatchery also uses the Android- and iOS-based SmartService™ App, which makes it very easy to send service requests or questions, with photos if needed.

“To optimise operations, we do a lot of preventive maintenance ourselves and under the SmartCare™ plan that we created, Pas Reform and NatureForm carry out a complete inspection twice a year and we have an agreement on spare parts.” The plan also includes site visits by an incubation consultant from Pas Reform Academy, to focus on optimizing hatchability and quality.

“For us, SmartCare™ Lifetime Service is more than just support in case of a problem,” concludes David Rush. “It is a partnership, where we work together with Pas Reform and NatureForm continuously to generate further improvements, increased hatchability and chick quality.”

Koch Foods chooses SmartPro™ for the 2nd time to develop USA’s largest single stage hatchery

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Chicago-based Koch Foods, the USA’s 5th largest poultry integrator, has chosen Pas Reform and NatureForm to completely renovate its Henagar hatchery in Alabama. When completed, Henagar will be the largest fully integrated, single stage broiler hatchery in the Western Hemisphere.

Pas Reform and its US partner, NatureForm Hatchery Technologies, will install 84 SmartSetPro™ setters with a capacity of 132,192 eggs each and 92 SmartHatchPro™ hatchers, each with a capacity of 22,032 hatching eggs, to create a weekly setting capacity of more than 3.7 million eggs.

As a fully integrated project, the contract also includes work to renovate Henagar’s climate control and automation systems. A complete new HVAC system has been designed for the hatchery, with 14 Daikin air handling units that use 100% outside air and air handlers equipped with the latest UV disinfection system. Boilers and chillers will also be replaced, including the addition of modern primary and secondary heat recovery systems, to make the hatchery one of the most energy efficient in North America.

A new hatchery automation system is designed to process 800,000 day old chicks in an eight-hour operating day. To achieve this, the system incorporates three transfer candling lines with individual stacking, destacking and clear egg removal; a double chick take-off line with destackers, separators and innovative, animal-friendly SmartCount™ chick counters.

SmartCenterPro™ hatchery information software will super-connect data from the entire hatchery, from the realtime monitoring and historic recording of Incubator climates, to the monitoring, counting and analysis of embryos and chick uniformity data gathered from hatchery automation processes.

Gary Davis, Vice President Eastern Division at Koch Foods , comments “Before embarking on a company-wide hatchery renovation-expansion programme, we tested Pas Reform’s equipment and technologies extensively in the Henagar facility.

“Once we saw improvements in hatch and feed conversion rates, we worked with the Pas Reform/NatureForm team to evaluate the project’s viability and, based on return on investment calculations, our experience with the renovation of our Crossville facility and the very comprehensive support package that has also been a key success factor for other major hatcheries in the USA , the project was approved.”

Steve Warren, CEO of NatureForm Hatchery Technologies concludes, “This is a milestone for Pas Reform and NatureForm: a truly exceptional opportunity to supply and install a project of this size and calibre, as the world’s only single source supplier of fully integrated hatchery solutions.

Fully integrated solutions do not, says Steve Warren, stop when installation is complete and together, contractor and supplier have customised a SmartCare™ preventative maintenance and hatchery support contract that will proactively involve both company’s teams to maintain optimum hatchery performance.

“In considering the full scope of this project, we recognised that one of the major factors in the success of the work we had undertaken for House of Raeford was the implementation of a SmartCare™ Lifetime Services agreement,” he says, “and Koch’s senior team agreed.”

“This contract is future-focused at every level. It recognises that the time has come for a new, proactive paradigm in hatchery service and support and that with SmartCare™, we’ve got that covered.”