Livestock Research for Rural Development 24 (1) 2012 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

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Comparative study between rice husk and sand incubation techniques for hatching the improved backyard poultry eggs

M C Sumy, M M Islam and M K I Khan

Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University,
Khulshi, Chittagong-4202, Bangladesh.


The study was conducted to know the hatchability of poultry eggs and to estimate the profitability from 2 different incubation techniques in the Brahmanbaria and Sylhet districts of Bangladesh. A total of 16 farmers were selected, in which 8 farmers used rice husk incubation method and rest used sand incubation method.

The hatchability percentage differed  between rice husk (63%) and sand incubation (82%) techniques. The net return of sand incubation technique was higher than rice husk incubation technique. Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) was higher  in sand incubation (2.22) than rice husk incubation technique (1.72). The study revealed that sand incubation technique is cheaper and nore profitable than the rice husk incubation technique.  

Key words: Benefit cost ratio, hatchability


There are many commercial artificial incubators of varying capacities used by poultry rearers. Most of the incubators are operating with electricity, but some use gas or kerosene for heating. All the incubators use a thermostatic switching device to keep the temperature constant within one Celsius degree. The correct humidity is usually maintained by having a pre-determined surface area of water appropriate for each incubator chamber. 

Day Old Chicks (DOC) are difficult to transport from commercial hatcheries to the remote areas due to lack of modern communication facilities. Therefore, if it is possible to produce the chicks in the remote areas with low cost, it will be more beneficial and helpful for the farmers. The chicks could be hatched by using the broody hen or artificially. Nowadays poultry producers become more interested in artificial incubation techniques for their own chicks than the broody hen. However the success of this type of project depends on proper care and incubation of the hatching eggs, ir order to produce healthy, vigorous chicks (Smith 2000). Currently, the artificial parched rice husk and sand incubation process has been started in some parts of Bangladesh. MFTSP (Micro-Financed and Technical Support Project) has established and successfully operated a large number of mini-hatcheries for the production of day-old chicks/ducklings in the rural areas of Bangladesh. However, the MFTSP implemented by IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) and Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) has made it possible for poor women to operate mini-hatcheries profitably, essentially by addressing the management constraints (Rota et al 2010). 

There are a few studies which have been done on the hatchability of poultry eggs; however, no study was undertaken in comparisons of the hatchability and profitability of rice husk and sand incubation techniques. Therefore, the current study was conducted with the objectives: (i) to know the hatchability percentage between rice husk and sand incubation method; and (ii) to estimate the incomes and calculate the Benefit Cost Ratios for both techniques for comparisons. 


The study was conducted in Sylhet and Brahmanbaria district of Bangladesh from November 2009 to July 2010. A total of 16 farmers was selected that had a mini hatchery of which 8 practiced the rice husk incubation technique and rest  used the sand incubation technique. The data on processing and operating systems and economics of the  different incubation techniques were collected from a structured questionnaire. A direct visit was made to the farmer’s house by the data collector to gather information; interviews were done according to the convenience of the respondents.  

Mini hatchery is a local technique where heated rice husk/sand is used as a means of artificial incubation for hatching chicken/duck eggs. The mini hatchery units can vary in size with a capacity for a few hundred eggs to several thousand, and the establishment cost ranges from US$10 to US$425 per hatchery for rice husk and US$70 to US$200 per hatchery for sand technique. For rice husk incubation technique, the items needed are: incubation room, incubation box, incubation cylinder, hatching bed, petrol lamp, thermometer, bamboo tray, colour cloth, candling box and rice husk. For sand incubation technique, the items needed are: incubation box, tray (made with net), thermometer, lamp (hurricane), water pot, and sand. 

Rice Husk Incubation Technique  

The bamboo made incubation box and two (or three) cylinders (which are also bamboo made) are needed to be set up in a dark room (incubation room), possibly well insulated. The cylinders are placed in a central point (Pihoto 1.2). Then the incubation chamber should be filled up with rice husk. A petrol lamp (Hurricane) should always be kept in one cylinder (Photo 1.1) alternately during the entire hatching period to keep the chamber warm up to 98-100 F or 37-38C. 

Sand Incubation Technique 

An insulated box like an almirah is made up of wooden or particle board composed of outlet for gas emission and ventilation to control temperature. Inside the box there are 3 to 5 gunny sac trays supported by the wire net which are used as egg setting and hatching trays as well. At the bottom of the incubator there are two kerosene based hurricane lamps placed as a source of heat and the bowl with water to maintain the humidity. The lower-most tray contains sand to be heated and give a distributed uniform temperature (98-100 F or 37-38C) within the surrounding area of the incubator (see Picture 2.1 & 2.2).

Photo 1.1. Bamboo cylinder with kerosene lamp Photo 1.2. Sand incubator with lamp, water and egg tray

Photo 2.1. Incubation cylinder with eggs Photo 2.2. Turning eggs and temperature maintaining
Estimation of Cost and Returns  

The following deterministic model using Microsoft excel was used to estimate the profit of the 2 incubation techniques:

   Profit- TFC

      Where, Pc=price/ unit

                  DOC= Number of DOC sold

                  TVUE=Total value of Unfertile Eggs

                        Pxi=per unit price of ith variable input

                        Xi= Quantity of ith input (i =1, 2, 3, --------n)

                        TFC=Total fixed cost. 

Valuation of Return Items 

Mini-hatchery owners buy their fertile eggs from other project participants who run small parent farms in confined production systems to ensure the pureness of the parent lines which are Fayoumi females and Rhode Island Red males. After hatching, the mini-hatchery sells their day-old chicks to Chick Rearing Unit (CRU) @ $ 0.357. Any unfertile eggs may be sold in the local market @ $0.11(1 US$= 70 BDT). 

Variable Costs: Cost of different inputs which are needed for operating those techniques that are treated as variable costs and are described below:


i)        Labour cost: Generally female members of the family were involved in the operation. The opportunity cost of labour was considered to estimate labour cost. Labour cost was calculated by using the prevailing wage rate (without food) of a female labour of respective area. Firstly total working hour/ day and total working days per week. Eight working hours were equivalent to one man-day. Finally, the labour estimated man-days were multiplied by the daily wage rate of respective area to calculate the labour cost per batch. Labour cost varied from $ 2.86 to $3.14 per man-day in those areas.


ii)      Cost of Rice husk/Sand: The cost of rice husk per batch varied from $2.86-$3.01 but sand cost is $ 0.07 in two study areas.


iii)    Cost of oil or electricity: The cost incurred on fuel i.e. kerosene and electricity was calculated by taking into account of actual amount spent by the farmers. The cost incurred $ 1.85- $ 5.0 per batch for two incubation systems.


iv)    Interest on working capital: Both the loan money and own fund was considered to estimate interest on working capital. Interest on own money was calculated at the rate of $.0.09% per annum in all the study areas considering the standard interest rate on saving bank account ($.0.09% per year). 

Fixed Cost: Cost on poultry houses and equipment were included under fixed cost.


i.       Cost of Housing: The cost of housing was calculated by taking into account the depreciation cost and interest on value of housing and maintenance cost. The production period of different components were considered in computing costs of depreciation and interest on capital invested by the concerned participants.


ii.      Cost of Equipment: In this study, cost of equipment was expressed as equipment cost, which was calculated by taking into accounts the depreciation cost and interest on value of equipment. 

Statistical analysis


From the collected data the mean and standard errors (SE) for the studied traits were estimated using the PROC GLM and PROC MIXED of SAS (SAS, 2000) and the differences in means were tested by using the least significance differences (LSD) test (Steel et al 1997).

Result and Discussion

The average egg per batch (number), average, DOC per batch, losses of egg per batch and hatchability (%) are shown in Table1. Table1 show that the average number of eggs and losses of egg was significantly higher in rice husk incubation than sand incubation technique. However, average DOC per batch was similar in 2 techniques. The hatchability percentage of rice husk incubation technique (63.06%) was significantly lower (p<0.01) than sand incubation technique (82.17%). Rota et al (2010) reported the similar hatchability percentage (70%) in traditional rice husk incubation method. However Raha (2003) found higher hatchability percentage (91%) in traditional method. IFAD evaluation study on the Smallholder Livestock Development Project (SLDP) (Dolberg F; Mallorie E; Brett N 2002) reported the average hatching rate was 67% in traditional method, which was similar with the current study.

Table 1. Per batch hatchability in two techniques


Rice Husk Incubation Technique

Sand Incubation Technique

Level of significance

Average eggs per batch (Number)




Average DOC per batch (Number)




Loss per batch (Number)




Average Hatchability (%)




Legends: ** significant at 1% (p<0.01) level of significant; NS= Non-significant.

Cost and Return

The cost and benefit (US$) from mini hatcheries in two different incubation techniques are shown in Table 2. The gross cost per batch incurred by the mini hatchery for 100 eggs was worked out $15.35 and $14.31 (1 US$= Tk 70) for rice husk and sand incubation techniques respectively. According to Raha (2003), the average gross cost per 100 eggs was Tk.922.98  ($13.18) in Bangladesh in rice husk method. Gross return derived from return of bird sale and return of unfertile egg sale. The gross return for 100 eggs in sand incubation method was significantly higher (p<0.01) than rice incubation technique. The table indicates that on an average the highest amount about 60-70 percent of the total cost was spent on egg purchased in both methods.

Table 2. Per batch cost and benefit (US$) from Mini Hatcheries in two different incubation techniques   

Cost Items

Rice-husk Incubation

(Per batch)

Sand Incubation (Per batch)

Level of significance

A. Variable cost




Egg purchase cost


23.78 1.816


Rice husk/Sand




Labour cost

5.98 0.384





2.57 0.179


Interest on working capital




B. Fixed Cost (housing and equipments)

2.85 0.339

1.14 0.204


Gross costs




Gross Return




Net Return




Gross Margin




Gross costs (per 100 eggs)




Gross Return(per 100 eggs)




Net Return (per 100 eggs)




Gross Margin (per 100 eggs)




BCR(Benefit Cost Ratio)  




Legends: * and ** significant differences at 5% (p<0.05) and 1% (p<0.01) level of significant, respectively; NS= Non-significant.

From the result it was found that net return of rice husk incubator was lower than sand incubator $10.77 vs. $16.85 (Table 2). Raha (2003) obtained the average net return Tk. 5.97 ($0.08) in traditional (Rice-husk) method. However, Rota et al (2010) reported Tk.1709 ($24.41) per batch (317 eggs) hatching for the similar method.   

Gross margin is the difference between gross return and variable cost. But in this study gross margin was calculated in cash cost basis where labour cost is ignored, because labour cost was calculated in the opportunity cost basis. Gross margin was also found to be significantly higher (p<0.01) in sand method ($19.65) than rice husk method ($13.42) (Table 2). 

BCR (undiscounted) 

From Table 2 it can be seen that the Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) was significantly higher (p<0.05) in sand incubation than rice husk incubation technique. The BCR in rice husk and sand incubation methods were 1.720.104 and 2.220.124, respectively.  It means that if we invest $1 then we could get return of $ 1.72 in rice husk incubation technique while it was $ 2.22 in sand incubation technique. On the other hand, Raha (2003), observed lower BCR (0.98) per 100 DOC in rice husk incubation method. 

Conclusion and Recommendation


The authors are grateful for financial support from Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), Bangladesh which has been financed by IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) to conducts this study. The authors are also grateful to the mini-hatcheries owner for provide the data. 


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Received 19 September 2011; Accepted 19 October 2011; Published 4 January 2012

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