News Room

Hatchery and Incubation Management Course

Terre Haute, Indiana

Aviagen Turkeys is pleased to announce the completion of its 2022 Turkey Hatchery and Incubation Management Course. Twenty-six students from eleven countries participated in this intensive four day course held at our Select Genetics hatchery in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Through a mix of classroom work and practical sessions in the hatchery, this excellent group of students gained a better understanding of factors that impact hatch and poult quality.

Course Director, Dr. Michelle Behl, Director of Poult Quality for Select Genetics, worked with the Select Genetics Hatchery group and the Aviagen Turkeys, Inc. Technical Services Team to develop this comprehensive program. According to Dr. Behl, “The goal of the course was to provide information and experience in areas that will have a real impact on hatchability, poult quality, and subsequent commercial turkey performance.”

Christy Puffenbarger, Vice President of Technical Services for Aviagen Turkeys, said, “When we started talking about a hatchery course, Michelle was the natural choice to be the director. She has a real passion for poultry and hatcheries and loves to tell the story of growing up incubating and raising ducks and chickens and studying embryonic development.” Dr. Behl has over 25 years of experience in the poultry industry and earned both a MS and a PhD in Poultry Science from Texas A&M University.

Learning in the Classroom

Guest speaker Dr. Lynn Bagley, Research Manager with Tyson's turkey division, kicked off the classroom sessions with the egg – how it is formed, its structure and impact on embryo development.

Dr. Bagley worked with the teams during the week sharing knowledge he has gained through many years in the poultry industry and Ph.D. from North Carolina State University where he researched fertility and hatchability of turkeys.

The course was structured with classroom sessions in the morning followed by corresponding practical sessions in the hatchery in the afternoon to gain hands-on experience. In addition to Dr. Behl and Dr. Bagley, instructors included Tom Denny, Hatchery Manager, and Laura Hagedon, Hatchery Quality Control Specialist. Both Tom and Laura are with Select Genetics and were happy to share their many years of experience with the group.

Rounding out the team of instructors were Jamie Waldbauer from Charisons Turkey Hatchery, who shared his knowledge of incubation and machine mechanics; and Josh Liestman with Best Veterinary Solutions with a presentation and demonstration on cleaning and disinfecting. We were also pleased to have long-time Aviagen Hatchery Specialist John Sims with us to work with the students during the week.

To help ensure the students were taking it all in, the days started with a quiz to review the previous day’s instruction. At the end of the week each team received a Case Study detailing a real issue that had occurred in a hatchery.

The teams analyzed all of the information and reported their findings back to the group. This included pinpointing the likely cause of the issue and corrective action needed. According to the feedback survey, this was one of the highlights of the week, as they were able to use what they had learned to address a real-life issue.


Hands-on Experience

A key feature of the course was “learning by doing”. The 26 students were divided into six teams for the week. They earned points from the practical sessions in the hatchery as well as the daily quiz.

The students came from hatcheries around the world and had a broad range of experience allowing the teams to be mixed so students could learn from both their instructors and their classmates.

Conducting an Egg Audit, Dr. Michelle Behl


Candling, Laura Hagedon


Candling Egg Breakouts, Dr. Michelle Behl



Collecting and Utilizing Data, Tom Denny


Hatch Residue Breakout, Dr. Michelle Behl


Poult Servicing Quality & Comfort, and Delivery


“The purpose of our Technical Services Team is to work with our customers to achieve the best possible performance from their Nicholas and B.U.T. turkeys”, Christy noted. “We believe that courses like this Hatchery and Incubation Management Course are a good way to accomplish this goal. The diversity of the participants provided a unique learning experience that contributed to the overall success of the course and we appreciate our customers sending this great group of students. We look forward to providing additional courses on this and other aspects of turkey production in the future.”