2010 Poultry Science 89 :1389–1398
Key words: hatchery , contamination , Salmonella , formaldehyde , constant rate infusion
ABSTRACT This study was conducted to investigate
the bacterial contamination of air and the surface of
equipment and facilities in hatchery. In addition, the
inhibitory effects of formaldehyde application meth-
ods on aerosol bacterial counts in the hatchers were
also investigated. In the operating hatchers, the con-
tamination of air by aerobic bacteria, coliform, and
fungi was high, measuring over 300 cfu/63.6 cm2. In
the egg sorting room, contamination was moderate,
whereas in the remaining sampling sites such as the
setter room, candling-transfer room, and chick count-
ing room, contamination was minimal, measuring less
than 10 cfu/63.6 cm2 for aerobic bacteria, 5 cfu/63.6
cm2 for coliform, and 2 cfu/63.6 cm2 for fungi. The bac-
terial contamination on the surface of the equipment
and facilities showed similar tendencies with that of
air. However, on the surfaces of the equipment and fa-
cilities in the hatcher room corridors and nonoperating
hatchers where the bacterial contamination of the air
was low, bacterial counts were high, measuring over 100
cfu/16 cm2. Salmonella was mainly isolated from the
hatcher rooms, chick counting room, and the related
equipment and facilities but not from the areas used
for the earlier processing step such as the egg receiving
room, egg sorting room, setter rooms, and candling-
transfer room. The Salmonella serotype that was most
frequently isolated from the hatchery was Salmonella
Senftenberg. The other occasional Salmonella serotypes
such as Salmonella Schwarzengrund, Salmonella Mad-
elia, Salmonella Montevideo, and Salmonella Enter-
itidis were isolated. The experimental group receiving
formaldehyde by constant rate infusion during hatching
had a significantly superior inhibitory effect on aerosol
bacterial count 4 h before hatching as compared with
the group receiving formaldehyde into a basin and the
negative control group (P < 0.05).
Hatchery hygiene evaluation by microbiological examination
of hatchery samples
J. H. Kim and K. S. Kim 1
College of Veterinary Medicine, Kyungpook National University, 1370 Sankyuk-dong, Buk-gu, Daegu,
702-701, Republic of Korea
A hatchery plays the important role of collecting
hatching eggs from the breeder farm and selling newly
hatched chicks to a commercial poultry farm. However,
the environment of a hatchery can be a source of con-
tamination that involves a variety of microorganisms
that can cause diseases in a poultry farm (Sheldon and
Brake, 1991; Scott and Swetnam, 1993). Furthermore,
a contaminated hatchery not only transmits diseases to
the poultry farm but also causes significant economic
losses for the poultry industry (Funk and Irwin, 1955;
Harry and Gordon, 1966). Therefore, Hazard Analysis
and Critical Control Point (HACCP) was recently ap-
plied for improvement of poultry farm hygiene; more-
over, the importance of hatchery hygiene, egg hygiene,
and hygiene of equipment and facilities was realized all
over the world (Jordan et al., 2001).
Hatchery hygiene begins with the health of parent
stock. This is also related to biosecurity measures,
which include disinfecting and cleaning of the farm and
the avoidance of risk factors that can cause harm to
the hatching eggs even before they reach the hatchery.
Furthermore, standards for the evaluation of hatchery
hygiene have been set to measure overall contamination
by aerobic bacteria; the coliform and fungi contamina-
tion of eggs, fluff, air, and equipment; and facility sur-
faces involved in the processing steps from the egg sort-
ing room to chick counting room (Nichols and Leaver,
1967; Jordan et al., 2001).
Microorganisms found on or in a few hatching eggs
can be easily distributed throughout the hatcher by
air movements during hatching and thus contaminate
all other chicks in the hatcher (Chute and Gershman,
1978; Sheldon and Brake, 1991). In particular, bacterial
contamination increases as the hatch nears completion
(Magwood, 1964a). Therefore, some researchers con-
Received January 21, 2010.
Accepted April 5, 2010.
1 Corresponding author: email@example.com
© 2010 Poultry Science Association Inc.
by guest on January 19, 2016
ducted a study on the bacterial contamination of fluff
which presented these contaminated microorganisms
for evaluating the hygienic status in hatchery (Nichols
and Leaver, 1967; Chen et al., 2002). However, Mag-
wood (1964a) studied the microbial contamination of
the air in hatcheries and compared the results with
those obtained from the microbiological examination of
fluff. He concluded that both tests measured the level
of contamination present in the environment but that
air sampling was particularly useful because it demon-
strated the wide ranges in microbial count. Furthermore
Magwood and Marr (1964) found it necessary to inves-
tigate the contamination of the surface inside hatcher-
ies. The efficacy of hatchery sanitation programs may
be increased by measuring and comparing the bacterial
contamination of the air and the surface inside hatcher-
ies (Magwood, 1964b).
There have been several reports on damage to chicken
owing to insufficient hatchery hygiene. Chute and Ger-
shman (1978) reported that the microorganisms that
were isolated from the air in a hatchery were found
in chickens with omphalitis. In addition, Devos et al.
(1966) suggested that the Escherichia coli infection of
chicks may have been associated with high levels of
Enterobacteriaceae in the fluff. Effective sanitation pro-
grams should be devised to reduce the bacterial con-
tamination in the hatchery.
Formaldehyde has long been established as an ef-
fective disinfectant in commercial poultry hatcheries
(Beesley, 1980; Deeming, 1992; Steinlage et al., 2002).
Formaldehyde was used as a disinfectant in hatcheries
because of its ease of administration and effectiveness
against a wide variety of microorganisms (Sheldon and
Brake, 1991). However, the US Environmental Protec-
tion Agency had formaldehyde regulated under the
Toxic Substances Control Act because of its toxic effect
on humans (Sheldon and Brake, 1991). Also, these reg-
ulations include setting exposure limits and maintain-
ing health records of exposed employees, along with the
provision of additional safety equipment and training
(Wilson and Mauldin, 1989). For these reasons, Samberg
and Meroz (1995) searched for alternative disinfectants;
however, a more effective alternative was not found.
Steinlage et al. (2002) presented an effective disinfec-
tion method, which administrated 37% formaldehyde
at a rate of 1 mL/h as constant rate infusion (CRI) by
using a Buretrol Intravenous Drip Set (Braun Medical
Inc., Bethlehem, PA) to reduce the potential exposure
of humans and chicks to formaldehyde and also to re-
duce bacterial contamination in hatchers.
To produce hygienic poultry meat, it is essential
to inhibit microorganisms from the breeder farm, the
hatchery, the broiler farm, and the chicken slaughter
house of an integrated broiler chicken operation. Haz-
ard Analysis and Critical Control Point has been ap-
plied to chicken slaughter houses in Korea (Kim et al.,
2002. In addition, HACCP has been applied to poultry
farms including broiler farms and breeder farms since
2008 in Korea. However, an announcement about the
HACCP application for hatcheries was not made and
a systematic investigation and evaluation of hatchery
hygiene have not been completed.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the con-
tamination of the air and the surfaces of equipment and
facilities in a hatchery from August 2005 to September
2006 by aerobic bacteria, coliform, fungi, and Salmonel-
la. In addition, the inhibitory effects of formaldehyde
application methods on aerosol bacterial counts in the
hatcher were also investigated.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Location and Time of Examination
Bacterial contamination of the air and the surfaces
of equipment and facilities for some 30 sites, which in-
cluded an egg sorting room, a setter room, an egg can-
dling room, a hatcher room, and a chick counting room
in a certain hatchery located in the Gyeongsangbuk-Do
province of Korea was examined 5 times from August
2005 to September 2006. The first examination was
conducted in August 2005 immediately after a clean-
ing and disinfection of the hatchery after the removal
of chicks from the site. The second investigation was
performed before cleaning and disinfection in October
2005. The third, fourth, and fifth examinations were
conducted 4 h after the chicks were removed and the
site was cleaned, disinfected, and the facilities were dry
in December 2005, April 2006, and September 2006,
Examination for Contamination of Air
and Surface of Equipment and Facilities
For each of the 20 to 24 sites that were suspected
of having a high bacterial contamination of the air
and the surface of equipment and facilities, 4 subsites
evenly arranged in each site were designated along each
step of the entire hatchery from the egg receiving room
to the chick counting room. For the air samples, plate
count agar (Difco, Detroit, MI), Endo agar (Difco), and
Sabouraud dextrose agar (Difco) were used for aero-
bic bacteria, coliform, and fungi, respectively. Three
agar plates were prepared that had been exposed for
10 min (compared with 1 min in operating hatcher).
In addition, a Rodac agar plate (TPC: KM0808, Han-il
Komed, Gyeonggi-do, Korea) and another Rodac agar
plate (ECC: KM0802, Han-il Komed) were prepared for
the surfaces of the equipment and facilities and were
used for aerobic bacteria and coliform, respectively.
Two agar plates were stamped to the surface of the
equipment and facilities. After being transported to the
laboratory, each plate was incubated at 37°C for 24 to
48 h, and then a count of the colonies on the plate sur-
face was done, yielding colony-forming units/63.6 cm2
and colony-forming units/16 cm2, respectively.
KIM AND KIM
by guest on January 19, 2016
In conclusion, administration of formaldehyde by a
CRI as opposed to the conventional method currently
used in Korea of a single administration of 37% form-
aldehyde into a basin at the time of transfer had a
superior inhibitory effect on aerosol bacterial counts.
Therefore, widespread use of the CRI method can be
expected to have a positive effect on hatchery hygiene
and productivity. Further, this study provides useful
information on the application of HACCP in the hatch-
eries of Korea.
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