If there was one thing I took away from my 16 1/2 years with P&G, it was a process called Defect Elimination. You were required as part of your work plan to find and fix defects in the work processes and systems and you were measured accordingly to your success.
I applied it to my poultry hobby a few years ago and it has made it better. You must first identify the defect and analyze the reasons why the defect exists. You must get to the root cause of that defect in order to fix it. Sounds easy but getting the true root cause of a defect can be challenging. Once the root cause is identified, your solutions can be tested. It was a complicated process and we had digital tools to help solve them.
In the exhibition poultry hobby, I tried to simplify it some and I will use a poor hatching rate as an example. I was tired of getting a 50% hatch out of fertile eggs. That was my defect. Poor hatch rate. I was lucky enough to have my daughter to help me as she has a Master’s Degree in Hatchery Management from the University of Arkansas. We broke out some eggs that did not hatch and she was able to make a reasonable assumption as to why they did not hatch. I was always taught to watch the air cell to determine the status of the embryo but several eggs with the same size air cell did not hatch. The ones that did sometimes were sticky and many were spraddle legged.
The Defect; poor hatch rate, possible root cause; inconsistent temperature and humidity. Possible solution; better incubation control and procedures.
I tested out about every incubator made to find one that would give me constant temperature and humidity without having to tweak settings all the time. I was able to increase the hatch percentage and quality of chicks hatched but I did not totally eliminate the defect as we still had fluctuating temps and humidity and still had to tweak settings.
In my research about 4 years, I heard about a new incubator in Europe called Cimuka. There were rave reviews about the exact thing I was looking for, constant temperature and humidity! I followed the company for a couple years and two years ago I ordered one from the US distributor, Hatching Time. The rest is pretty much history, my hatch percentages are in the high 90’s, chick quality is excellent and they are pretty much set and forget unit. The air flow, temp and humidity control mimic a commercial incubator. I have recommended this incubator to many fanciers and I smile to see so many people having success with them.
So that defect was marked off as completed. There are still several defects I am working on but every fertile egg should hatch and the next one will be unexplained chick death. There is a root cause as to why a chick dies in the brooder, I don’t lose many but again I aim to drive that defect to zero! Determining the root cause will be tough but I enjoy the challenge.
In a future blog, I will explain what I did about Marek’s disease in my birds! Hope this helps some of our followers and friends think through the Defect Elimination process and help them get to zero defects!