Objective was to compare BW during the period between hatch and removal from the hatching environment (pull) of chicks hatched in a traditional hatcher or HatchCare; a hatcher with access to feed and water immediately posthatch. On D18 of incubation, Ross-308 eggs were placed in a traditional hatcher (n = 320) or HatchCare (n = 640). In HatchCare, continuous light and a prestarter feed and water were available ad libitum. Individual BW was recorded every 3 hours from hatch till pull time. In HatchCare, water intake was recorded using food dye in the water that stained the beak. At pull time, Early hatched (≤477h) HatchCare chicks were heaviest (52.7 g), followed by Middle (478–486h; 49.7 g) and Late (≥487h; 46.1 g) HatchCare chicks. All hatcher chicks weighed less than HatchCare chicks (average 43.3 g; P < 0.001). Weight loss since hatch was negatively linearly related to time spent post-hatch without drinking (P < 0.001); for each 3h post-hatch without water intake, chicks lost on average 0.4 g BW. Moment of first water intake depended on hatch moment: 11.9h for Early, 9.7h for Middle, and 13.1h for Late HatchCare chicks (P < 0.001). To conclude, the system with feed and water immediately post-hatch, called HatchCare, increased BW once water intake started and later also due to feed intake, while traditional hatcher chicks suffered from dehydration related weight loss. BW gain in HatchCare was found throughout the hatch window but particularly for early hatchers.
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