The natural way of breeding chickens is through hatching. This is done by the mother herself. The mother warms up the eggs by sitting on them and ensuring the eggs are fully covered and warm. Typical warming temperature is 37.8oC. The mother keeps warming the eggs until baby chickens are hatched after approximately 21 days. In commercial chicken hatching systems, the eggs are arranged in matrix on rectangular trays, and these are then inserted into and fixed in movable pathways in a vertical framework which can be tilted up-and-down at its central axis. The whole structure is kept in a heating chamber where the temperature is maintained at 37.8oC. In manual systems, temperature and humidity fluctuates significantly from desired settings, due to weather fluctuations, i.e. temperature and humidity fluctuations outside the heating chamber. Inevitably, percentage of hatchability is poor in such systems (typical record in the region of 50 ┐ 65 %). However, this can be significantly improved by installing computer-controlled systems using NI cDAQ 9172 with NI 9217 RTD Module and NI 9201 Analog Input Module. Besides regulating the temperature, the chamber┐s humidity is also being maintained at about 55%. Adaptive regulators are designed and implemented to achieve the goals using LabView System Identification & Control Toolkit. To ensure maximum surface exposure of the eggs to the hot air in the chamber, the trays are tilted in turn 30o above and below the tray┐s central axis every six hours.
Proper structural design and control of the three parameters, i.e. temperature, humidity and egg orientation, ensure maximum hatchability and hence productivity of the system.
The figure below shows the block diagram of the system.
Temperature and humidity sensor send current data to the cDAQ which executes control actions based on pre-designed algorithms. Temperature regulation is effected by means of a heater through a heater driver. Humidity on the hand is regulated by adjusting the frequency of spraying of a water sprayer. A stepper motor is being employed to regularly tilt up and down the egg trays which move in unison.
The innovative features of the innovation are the use of adaptive technique to regulate both temperature and humidity