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Hatchery by-product meal


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Common names 

Hatchery by-product meal, hatchery waste meal


Hatchery by-product meal results from the processing of poultry hatchery wastes, such as shells of hatched eggs, infertile eggs, dead embryos and dead or culled chicks (Al-Harthi et al., 2010; Freeman, 2008). World poultry production, including chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese and guinea fowl was 55.5 billion head in 2009 (FAO, 2011). It can be estimated from this figure that 0.8 to 3.3 billion tons of hatchery wastes are generated every year, using an hatchability value of 50-80% (Al-Harthi et al., 2010), and an average egg weight of 60 g.

The hatchery industry keeps growing and concentrating, following the demand for poultry products. The larger quantities of hatchery wastes cause increasing environmental problems (see Environmental impact). The traditional methods for disposing of these products are landfill, land application, composting for fertilizer production and rendering. Those methods are expensive (landfill disposal is one of the cheapest methods and its cost was estimated at 13£/t in 2002 in the UK (Gittins et al., 2002)) and was not always practical. While large hatcheries may produce enough waste to supply full truckloads to rendering plants, smaller hatcheries need other means of disposal and may encounter some resistance from authorities and landfill operators (El Boushy et al., 2000). An additional problem is that those wastes have a high moisture content and spoil extremely rapidly, and, therefore, must be processed rapidly into a dried and/or stable form (Deshmukh et al., 1997a). The methods for handling and processing of hatchery wastes have been extensively reviewed by Glatz et al., 2011, who conclude that finding practical techniques for recycling the nutrients in hatchery waste has become a high priority.

Hatchery wastes contain protein and minerals and can be rendered by cooking, drying and grinding into a meal (hatchery by-product meal or hatchery waste meal) suitable to feed livestock. The calcium content can be quite high, depending on the proportion of eggshells (Göhl, 1970). Co-extrusion with soybean meal or lactic acid fermentation followed by extrusion or drying and grinding are other means of processing hatchery waste (Lilburn et al., 1997; Deshmukh et al., 1997a).

Like other animal by-products, the use of hatchery by-products for animal feeding is often regulated and even prohibited in certain countries due to concerns over the transfer of pathogens (see Potential constraints and Distribution) (Al-Harthi et al., 2010).


Hatchery by-products are produced worldwide wherever there is a hatchery industry. However, the production of rendered hatchery by-products requires specific facilities and transportation costs as too low volumes may make rendering uneconomic (El Boushy et al., 2000).

The distribution and use of hatchery by-products for animal feeding may be subject to regulations. In 2002, due to public health concerns following the BSE crisis, hatchery by-product meal was banned in the European Union for farm animals but remained authorised for pet food (European Community, 2002). This ban was lifted on March 4, 2011 and hatchery by-product meal is again allowed for livestock feeding in the European Union (European Union, 2009).


Rendering and heat treatments

Heat treatments followed by adequate drying are effective ways of destroying pathogens (Glatz et al., 2011). Rendering is the most common method used to process hatchery wastes into animal feed: the wastes are cooked, the fat is removed (or not), and the resulting product is dried and ground. This method yields two products: the protein-rich hatchery by-product meal and poultry fat. Other heat treatments have been proposed, such as boiling, autoclaving or extruding with soybean meal, maize or eggshells (Glatz et al., 2011; Lilburn et al., 1997; Said, 1996).

Heat treatments typically require dedicated facilities and transportation from the hatchery to the rendering plant. Other processes, such as ensiling, can be applied at the hatchery site and may be more usable in areas where rendering facilities are not available.

Ensiling and fermentation

Various ensiling and fermentation processes have been proposed. Ensiling fresh hatchery waste with a carbohydrate source and a lactic acid generating culture for two weeks produced a microbiologically safe, spoilage-free product that could be extruded into a palatable and valuable poultry feed (Deshmukh et al., 1997a; Deshmukh et al., 1997b). Ensiling with 7% of a 1:1 mixture of formic acid and propionic acid gave satisfactory microbiological results and preserved nutrients (Kompiang, 1994 cited by Glatz et al., 2011).

Environmental impact 

The disposal of hatchery wastes can be an acute environmental concern. Large amounts of high-protein wastes from animal production that are directly applied into the soil pollute the environment. High nitrogen losses result in enrichment of ground water, lakes or rivers, pathogen distribution, production of phytotoxic substances, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Over-application of organic waste as fertiliser for cropping can result in nitrate (NO3) contamination of groundwater (Glatz et al., 2009). Processing hatchery wastes into animal feeds is a way to alleviate this environmental concern (Freeman, 2008).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Hatchery waste contains variable amounts of shells, eggs, embryos and culled chicks, and this variability is reflected in its composition and nutritive value. Fresh hatchery waste has a high moisture content, from 40 to 70% (Glatz et al., 2009; El Boushy et al., 2000). Hatchery by-product meal contains 22% to 33% protein (less than other rendering by-products) with 1.1-1.8% lysine and 0.5-0.8% methionine. As can be expected, crude fat (11-30%) and ash (about 60% but values as low as 22% have been reported) are extremely variable (Glatz et al., 2009; El Boushy et al., 2000). In addition to supplying energy and protein, hatchery by-product meal is an important source of calcium (17.2-24.6%) though it contains little phosphorus (0.3-0.6%) (El Boushy et al., 2000; Lilburn et al., 1997). Due to the fat content, gross energy can be as high as 28.8 MJ/kg (Sharara et al., 1992 cited by Glatz et al., 2009).

As for any product of highly variable (and unpredictable) composition, recommendations and nutritive values provided in the literature are to be taken with caution, as they may not apply to specific cases.

Potential constraints 

Bacterial contamination

Hatchery wastes have to be properly heat-treated during processing to assure that the resulting hatchery by-product meal is pathogen-free (Göhl, 1970). Acid fermentation of hatchery wastes can prevent undesirable bacterial development (Deshmukh et al., 1997b).


Because of their high fat content, hatchery by-product meals are prone to rancidity. Fat removal during process may help to prevent this problem (Saima, 2001).

Biotin deficiency

Raw eggs contain avidin, a biotin-binding protein responsible for biotin deficiency in animals (Göhl, 1970). Biotin deficiency causes skin and hair abnormalities (alopecia and loss of hair colour) as well as locomotor and reproductive problems. It reduces feed intake and subsequent growth. In poultry, biotin deficiency may cause sudden death (Whitehead, 1985). Thermal destruction of avidin occurs between 73.3°C and 125.6°C and properly heat-processed hatchery by-product meal should contain little or no avidin (Durance et al., 1992; Göhl, 1970).


The high protein and mineral content of hatchery by-product meal might make it useful in diets for lactating livestock or in any diet in need of calcium and protein supplementation. Moreover, heat treatment of poultry by-products leads to a reduction of rumen protein degradability, allowing a higher intestinal flow of amino acids (Freeman, 2008).

The literature concerning the use of hatchery by-product meal in ruminants is extremely limited. Hatchery by-product meal improved intake and dry matter digestibility and met maintenance requirements of 10 kg male goats (Belewu et al., 1998). Graded levels of hatchery waste meal inclusion have been studied in West African Dwarf rams with effects on the nutrient intake, digestibility and performance (Arigbede et al., 2007).


Hatchery by-product meal can be successfully fed to pigs (Machin, 2000). Because of its high calcium content, its inclusion rate in pig diets should be limited to 3% or less. At this level it may partially replace the lysine of soybean meal and the supplementary calcium (Thaler et al., 2010).

In early weaned piglets, hatchery by-product meal resulted in a lower feed intake, nitrogen intake and weight gain than those fed on a control diet. However, including hatchery by-product meal decreased total feed cost and may be included at up to 22.5% in early-weaned piglets diets (Adeniji et al., 2007).


Hatchery by-product meal is a suitable poultry feed due to its protein, fat and high calcium content. Its calcium availability is similar to that of bone meal or limestone and it can be used as a source of dietary calcium (Lilburn et al., 1997).


Hatchery by-product meal is a valuable protein source in broiler diets at any age. Its amino acid balance is better than that of fish meal (Khan et al., 2002; Rasool et al., 1999). However, recommended levels of inclusion are not fully consistent among authors and range from 3-4% (Mehdipour et al., 2009; Shahriar et al., 2008) to 8-12% (Rahman et al., 2003; Rasool et al., 1999).

Cooked or extruded hatchery by-product meals could totally and successfully replace fish meal in broiler diets (Rahman et al., 2003; Khan et al., 2002; Dhaliwal et al., 1998). Broilers fed on hatchery by-product meal instead of fish meal had better protein utilization and higher body weight gains (Rahman et al., 2003; Rasool et al., 1999). Less positive results have also been obtained. Feeding hatchery by-product depressed broiler growth, feed conversion and feed intake, though this might have been related to the elevated levels of dietary calcium (Zohari, 1975 cited by Al-Harthi et al., 2010). Hatchery by-product meal included at 8% of the broiler diets let to a higher feed conversion ratio and had deleterious effects on broiler meat quality (reduced shelf-life) (Shahriar et al., 2008).

Laying hens

Hatchery by-product meal can replace fish meal, soybean meal or meat and bone meal in layer diets (Abiola et al., 2004; Vandepopuliere et al., 1977; Wisman et al., 1965 cited by Al-Harthi et al., 2010). It had no negative effect on animal health or egg production and it is reported to improve egg quality: thicker eggshells, higher yolk and albumin weights (Abiola et al., 2004; Vandepopuliere et al., 1977). Inclusion levels ranging from 8 to 16% are recommended for hatchery by-product meal in layer diets (Al-Harthi et al., 2010; Vandepopuliere et al., 1977).

An extruded mixture of ground maize and centrifuged hatchery by-product included in the diet was free of aerobic pathogens and gave the same results as the control diet for feed conversion, egg production, egg weight and egg specific gravity (Tadtiyanant et al., 1993).


Autoclaved hatchery by-product meal used at 2-4% as a source of dietary calcium in a maize-soybean meal diet resulted in higher feed efficiency than bone meal in turkey diets (Lilburn et al., 1997). A dried extruded 25:75 mixture of fresh hatchery waste and soybean meal had an unexplainable yet beneficial effect on feed intake and the protein efficiency ratio, particularly at the lowest level of dietary protein (16%) (Lilburn et al., 1997).


Hatchery by-product meal is a potential protein source for rabbits and may be included in weaner rabbit diets during the growing-fattening period (Isaac et al., 2007; Fanimo et al., 2002; Handa et al., 1996). Inclusion rates up to 15% (in the concentrate diet) had a positive effect on overall feed intake. While higher levels tended to depress feed efficiency, hatchery waste by-product was found to be suitable for rabbit production (Isaac et al., 2007). In Soviet Chinchilla weaner rabbits, a 40:60 dried extruded mixture of fresh hatchery waste and soybean meal could replace fish meal up to 100% (6.7% of the diet) without altering performances significantly. However, hatchery waste meal given to weaner rabbits resulted in lower feed intakes and feed efficiency than for fish meal (Fanimo et al., 2002). The lower cost of the ingredient made it economical (Handa et al., 1996).


Hatchery by-product meal can be fed to minks. However, there have been reports of biotin deficiency caused by the avidin content of hatchery waste that resulted in graying pelts (achromatricia or "turkey waste greying") (see Potential Constraints) (Whitehead, 1985).


Hatchery by-product meal has been tested in several fish species.

Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus)

Hatchery by-product meal gave slightly lower body weight gain and fish pond yield than fish meal (Metwalli, 2008; El-Husseiny et al., 2006) but it reduced feed cost/kg fish by 14% (Metwalli, 2008).

Common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.)

Hatchery by-product meal could replace up to 75% commercial feed in common carp diets and the highest daily and final weight gain, apparent feed and protein efficiency were obtained at this level of inclusion (Paixao et al., 1989).


In mullet species (Mugil cephalus and Liza ramada), including hatchery by-product meal had respectively no effect and a slightly positive effect (+11.5%) on body weight gain and fish pond yields compared to fish meal (El-Husseiny et al., 2006).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 99.3 0.8 96.4 99.9 15
Crude protein % DM 22.9 4.1 18.1 37.2 19
Crude fibre % DM 2.1 2.2 0.0 6.1 6
Ether extract % DM 11.3 3.0 7.8 21.7 19
Ash % DM 61.4 6.8 36.0 65.5 18
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 9.8 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 191.4 25.6 155.0 221.1 9
Phosphorus g/kg DM 3.1 1.8 1.2 6.5 8
Sodium g/kg DM 2.4 0.1 2.2 2.6 6
Amino acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Arginine % protein 4.8 1
Cystine % protein 1.1 1
Glycine % protein 5.5 1
Histidine % protein 2.0 1
Isoleucine % protein 3.6 1
Leucine % protein 6.1 1
Lysine % protein 4.2 0.4 3.6 4.8 7
Methionine % protein 2.2 0.5 1.4 2.8 7
Phenylalanine % protein 3.5 1
Threonine % protein 3.4 1
Tryptophan % protein 1.3 1
Tyrosine % protein 2.4 1
Valine % protein 5.0 1
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 86.7 *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 8.5 *
MEn growing pig MJ/kg DM 7.9 *
NE growing pig MJ/kg DM 5.7 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


AFZ, 2011; Göhl, 1970; Göhl, 1982; Wisman, 1964

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:44:20

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Chapoutot P., 2015. Hatchery by-product meal. Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/212 Last updated on May 11, 2015, 14:32

English correction by Tim Smith (Animal Science consultant) and Hélène Thiollet (AFZ)
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