AskDefine | Define hatchery

Dictionary Definition

hatchery n : a place where eggs are hatched under artificial conditions (especially fish eggs); "the park authorities operated a trout hatchery"

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A facility where eggs are hatched under artificial conditions, especially those of fish or poultry.

Extensive Definition

For the third season episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, see "Hatchery (Star Trek: Enterprise)".
A hatchery is a facility where eggs are hatched under artificial conditions, especially those of fish or poultry. It may be used for ex-situ conservation purposes, i.e. to breed rare or endangered species under controlled conditions; alternatively, it may be for economic reasons (i.e. to enhance food supplies or fishery resources).

Fish hatcheries

Fish hatcheries are used to cultivate and breed a large number of fish in an enclosed environment. Fish farms use hatcheries to cultivate fish to sell for food, or ornamental purposes, eliminating the need to find the fish in the wild and even providing some species outside of their natural season. They raise the fish until they are ready to be eaten or sold to aquarium stores. Other hatcheries release the juvenile fish into a river, lake or the ocean to support commercial, tribal, or recreational fishing or to supplement the natural numbers of threatened or endangered species, a practice known as fish stocking.
Researchers have raised concerns about hatchery fish potentially breeding with wild fish. Hatchery fish may in some cases compete with wild fish. In the United States and Canada, there have been several salmon and steelhead hatchery reform projects intended to reduce the possibility of negative impacts from hatchery programs. Most salmon and steelhead hatcheries are managed better and follow up to date management practices to ensure any risks are minimized.

Poultry hatcheries

Poultry hatcheries produce a majority of the birds consumed in the developed world including chickens, turkeys, ducks and some other minor bird species that are consumed. It is a multi billion dollar industry with highly regimented production systems used to maximize bird size verse feed consumed. Birds are produced and maintained under high density which makes production and harvesting more economical but can also generate problems such as the spread of pathogens, which can move very quickly through the population when animal densities are high. Poultry hatcheries generally start with artificially inseminated birds that lay eggs, the eggs are cleaned and shells are checked for soundness before putting them in the incubators. The incubators control temperature and humidity and turn the eggs until they hatch. Generally large numbers of eggs are produced at one time so that the resulting birds are uniform in size and can be harvested at the same time. Once the eggs hatch and the chicks are a few days old they are often beak-trimmed and or toe-clipped, this involves the removal of half of the top beak and the clipping of the toe ends. This is done to prevent the birds from harming each other while they are living in close proximity to each other. After these procedures they are moved to enclosed buildings to be raised until harvest.


External links

hatchery in Catalan: Eclosionadora
hatchery in French: Écloserie
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