Have you thought recently about chick quality?

There are many ways to describe chick quality, a a term often used lightly to describe several attributes but without a common consensus.

danchooalex | iStockPhoto

Little can be done to improve a term often used lightly to describe several attributes but without a common consensus.

We discussed in a previous blog how difficult it remains for in-ovo feeding to enhance chick quality. I have even written a few articles on super-prestarters offered in the first few days post-hatch and I plan on updating them soon. All these are part of a greater effort I am part of to find ways to enhance chick quality, and nutrition is up there in the agenda.

But, the very first question I asked – and I continue to challenge anyone to come up with a complete answer – is, “What is chick quality?” Some argue that it refers to hatchability, but that is already a term used and measured. Others call it less morbidity and mortality – so more viable chicks – but again, why do we need more terms to describe the same things? Others argue that how aggressively a newly hatched chick takes to the feed is what defines its quality. So, as devil’s advocate, I ask, “Does size (weight) not matter?”

We lack a full and clear definition of what chick quality really means. It means different things to different people and indeed to different genetic lines. But, in my opinion, it must all boil down to money, which we get paid when birds deliver, whether this is carcass or eggs or both. I think we have a ways to go before we come to an agreement about what we mean by chick quality. Then the real problems begin: How do we measure it if it is a multi-factorial approach, which it must be?

Why do I care about chick quality? Because if you cannot define what you want, then I cannot, as a nutritionist, feed chicks – and, even more importantly, the genetic parent stock – in a way that will help them achieve their set goal at the least possible cost. So, let’s do what geneticists do and factor in everything that really matters.

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