An interview with Jan Wijnen, PhD-candidate at HatchTech

How can we adapt the incubation process to create healthier broilers? Jan Wijnen (33) is one of HatchTech’s researchers and is investigating this question on a daily basis. He tells us about his PhD-research and the motivation that lies behind it.


HatchTech is a knowledge-driven company where Research & Development is very important. Scientific research and knowledge form the basis of the development of new products and solutions. Something that suits Jan Wijnen very well. At a young age, Jan already knew that he’d like to do something with animals later in life. His choice for the Bachelor programme Animal Husbandry at the HAS University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch was therefore quite obvious. He continued his education with the MSc programme Animal Sciences at Wageningen University & Research. After graduation, he started here as a Research Assistant and assisted with preparing and performing several studies. In this function, he met Carla van der Pol, who at that time already worked at HatchTech as a PhD-researcher. Jan got more and more interested in poultry incubation, so when a PhD-position became available at HatchTech Jan applied immediately.

Jan’s PhD-research

Now, he has already been a part of the HatchTech research team for four years and is working on the final stage of his PhD-research. “My study is focused on creating healthier broilers by making adjustments to the incubation process. What are the influence of temperature and early feeding on the health of broilers at a later age? In what way can we prevent health problems and develop a better immune system?” These are the main questions in Jan’s research. “We’ve conducted several scientific experiments in which we set up the incubation process on a small scale and used temperature and early feeding as treatments. All other factors need to be standardized as much as possible so that possible results can be assigned to these two treatments only and nothing else.” explains Jan. The broilers are examined very thoroughly throughout their lifespan. “By laboratory research, we examine every detail of the broiler’s health status, like the development of important immune organs and disease responses.”

Creating healthier chickens

The ultimate goal of this study is to improve chicken health. “That is our ambition. How great would it be if we can improve the incubation process to develop healthier chickens with a better immune system at a later stage? This may for instance improve chicken welfare, decrease antibiotics use, and benefit revenues. Not only better for the chicken itself, but also for the total poultry industry.”

The HatchTech research-team

Jan is very enthusiastic about the HatchTech research team. “The research we do is very often directly applicable in practice. We see direct results of our research and that is very motivating. The interaction with other departments, like Product Development and Sales, is important. Together we achieve something, and that gives great fulfilment. The poultry industry itself is fascinating as well,” Jan adds. “It is an interesting and promising sector in which relatively little scientific research about the incubation process has been conducted. There is so much to discover!”

Future plans

For the upcoming future, Jan is full of plans. “At the moment my attention is fully focused on finalizing my PhD-research. I hope to obtain my PhD around spring next year. After that, I will join the HatchTech research team full time and will engage in several poultry studies we’re working on at the moment. And of course, my own PhD-research will still have my attention too. There will always arise new questions on the topic and the results of my research, which I can look into furthermore. Helping the poultry industry with knowledge-based solutions, I look forward to it.”

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