SP.20.009 – A long live Rock and Roll

Route: Sustainable production of safe and healthy food

Cluster question: 015 How can we make agricultural production systems more sustainable as the worldwide demand for healthy, safe food continues to grow?

Aim of the project is to prolong the longevity of broiler breeders. Broiler breeder hens are housed together with broiler breeder cocks to produce fertilized eggs. In early production, fertility and hatchability of eggs is high and decreases with aging of the breeders. Infertile or poor quality eggs will not result in a viable chick and are an economic loss for the poultry sector. To guarantee a higher number of high-quality fertile eggs, breeder birds will be replaced after 60 weeks of age. Since breeder birds arrive at the breeder farm at 20 weeks of age, the arrival date for the next flock is already determined half-way the production cycle and the farmer cannot decide to keep the breeders longer at a later stage of production. In a recent pilot study, it was shown that the number of eggs did not decrease drastically after 60 weeks of age. Replacement of breeders at later age is desirable from a welfare, sustainable as well as economic point of view. Fertility, embryo development, embryo mortality and chick quality were not determined in the pilot study. To prolong longevity of breeders, these effects as well as economic profit has to be studied. Measures to prolong longevity might be more labour-intensive, but will payback if longevity is increases in a profitable way. This has to be shown first, before breeder farmers will take steps in prolonging the longevity of the breeder birds and will contribute to a more sustainable production system. Approach: 1) Set-up a model to calculate optimal replacement age of breeders, 2) Review factors that influence persistency of production, fertility, embryo development and egg quality, and 3) Perform a (semi) practical trial with broiler breeders.


broiler breeders, chick quality, embryo development, fertility, Longevity

Other organisations

Aeres University of Applied Sciences, Schothorst Feed Research, Wageningen Livestock Research


Organisation Aeres Hogeschool Dronten, Schothorst Feed Research
Name Dr. Laura Star
E-mail l.star@aeres.nl
Website www.aereshogeschool.nl