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Types of incubators?!

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone I am looking to purchase an incubator to hatch duck eggs. I've never done this before and I have a few questions before I purchase one.

Do I need a circulated or still air incubator?

Do I need a automatic egg turner?

What all exactly do I need as far as thermometers and all..and what kind do I need?

What does "lock down" mean?

How long do they stay in the incubator after hatching before moving them to a nest with a heat lamp? (They will be inside my house in a large storage container with a heat lamp)
Sorry for all the questions!
post #2 of 9
I don’t hatch ducks, just chickens and occasionally turkeys. The basics are the same but there are some humidity issues with ducks I’ll let others talk about if they wish.

Do I need a circulated or still air incubator?

A lot if chicks, ducks, turkeys, quail and other birds are hatched in still air incubators but they are harder to use. With a forced air the temperature should be the same everywhere inside. In a still or thermal air, hot air rises. There can be quite a big difference in temperature inside depending on where you take that temperature. You have to take the temperature measurements at a specific height and have the eggs at a specific height. You can use a still air but to me a forced air is a lot easier. I have a forced air.

Do I need a automatic egg turner?

Again, a whole lot of eggs are hatched using manual turning. If you commit to manual turning you have to set up a specific schedule and make sure you turn the eggs on that schedule. You may have to skip a kid’s ball game or music recital or not go see a movie with friends if you commit to automatic turning. If you work an irregular schedule you may have issues. If you use an automatic turner you can even leave town for a couple of days if you wish. The automatic turner is about your convenience. I have one and like it.

Forced air and automatic turners are mostly about your convenience and ease of use. They are not needed but they sure are nice.

What all exactly do I need as far as thermometers and all..and what kind do I need?

First of all, don’t trust any thermometer that has not been calibrated. Due to manufacturing tolerances many thermometers aren’t that accurate. The ones that come with incubators and the ones you get to measure outside temperature are really bad about that. These might help you with your calibration.

Calibrate a Thermometer
http://www.allfoodbusiness.com/calibrating_thermometers.php

Rebel’s Thermometer Calibration
http://cmfarm.us/ThermometerCalibration.html

Rebel’s Hygrometer Calibration
http://cmfarm.us/HygrometerCalibration.html

You want a thermometer that measures within 0.1 degree for accuracy, so you are probably looking at something digital. If you are using a still air incubator you need to be able to position that thermometer at a specific height inside. With a forced air that is not as important. It’s going to be fairly humid inside so you want one that can handle that. If you leave it in during lockdown, it will probably get pooped on by the chicks so you need to be able to clean it. I don’t have a specific make and model. Frankly, now that I have my incubator adjusted it holds temperature so well I hardly ever use my thermometr. But starting out they are important.

What does "lock down" mean?

After a certain amount of time the eggs don’t need to be turned anymore. If you use an automatic turner take it out before hatch to make clean-up a lot easier, plus most automatic turners have sharp corners where little legs, wings, or necks can get trapped. If you are manual turning, you can stop turning.

Lockdown is mostly about moisture. During incubation the eggs need to lose a certain amount of moisture so the baby can hatch without being too wet or too dry. But during hatch, after external pip especially, it is possible for the membrane that develops around the chick or duckling to dry out and shrink around the baby, preventing it from hatching. This is called shrink-wrap. You manage this by raising the humidity inside the incubator and don’t open it to let moisture out. The incubator is essentially locked since you don’t open it. As I said, I’ll let others talk about duck egg humidities since I don’t have experience.

Shrink-wrap is something that can happen especially if you open the incubator after external pip and let the humidity out. There is a big difference in “can” happen and “will” happen. A lot of people regularly open the incubator when hatching chicks and don’t have problems, but some people do shrink-wrap chicks by opening the incubator. I consider it good practice and a reasonable precaution to not open the incubator during lockdown, but if I have an emergency inside the incubator I will open it and take that chance.

How long do they stay in the incubator after hatching before moving them to a nest with a heat lamp?

Before they hatch the ducklings, chicks, poults, whatever absorb the yolk. They can live off of this without food or water for at least three days, sometimes as much as five days. This is why they can be shipped in the mail, they don’t need to eat or drink immediately.

Often my hatches are over within 24 hours of the first one hatching. I like these. Occasionally though the hatch will stretch out for more than two full days, on rare occasions three days. I personally limit it to three days in the incubator without taking them out. No need to over stress them.

For whatever reasons some people like to take the chicks out as they dry off. They have their own reasons so that is up to them. But for the chick’s sake you don’t NEED to take it out for at least three days.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Wow!! Thank you so much for your detailed answer!! That makes me feel much better about taking this task on! I have been looking around and the only place close to me that has an incubator is the Tractor Supply. This is the circulated incubator with the automatic egg turner they have..would this be a good one?

It is a Farm Innovators Pro Series Circulated Air Incubator



post #4 of 9
What is your price range for an incubator? If you're comfortable with shopping on the internet you can buy many different ones. I use the brand brinsea. They are excellent. They are also expensive! But you mentioned hand turning. If you are able to turn yourself they make an "Eco" model, which is much more affordable. I'm at stay at home mom and hand turning works for me. You don't have to turn at exactly the same time everyday but following a loose schedule of 7am, 2pm, and 10pm works good. If you can turn more that's great too. Lots of good advice already given. I would purchase a separate thermometer and hygrometer, regardless of which incubator you get. Doesn't have to be expensive or fancy because you can calibrate both for accuracy. I spent about $10 for both and after calibrating they work great! Are you planning to hatch shipped eggs or local?
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
I will be hatching my own eggs my ducks have laid. I'm not looking to spend a fortune because I won't hatch every fertilized egg laid. I just want to hatch a few every so often. I began researching incubators because I wasn't sure my mallard would go broody or not and also because I know my mallard won't be able to hatch all of her eggs and my pekin eggs. Saturday I had 25 eggs between the 2 of them. But I believe my mallard actually started sitting this morning! I went to feed this morning and she was sitting on them. Ive checked on them several times today and every time I've went out there shes been sitting on them..or the ones she can anyway..she's obviously not big enough to sit on all of them. I thought a small incubator would be a good thing to have on hand to help hatch a few. I'm new to all of this so I do appreciate all pointers and advice!
post #6 of 9
I can tell you from experience that styro-bators are not the best. But, you'll learn a bunch about the incubation process through trial and error (thats how it worked for me, anyway). I have 2 Little Giants, and they can be very finicky. But, that one being a forced air 'bator is a plus, that will make things much easier as far as temp stability is concerned.

If you end up going the styrofoam route, be prepared to fiddle with that thing for a few days before setting eggs in it. And then be prepared to hover over it to check the temp for the next 21-28-how ever many days it takes for your ducks to hatch. They require some baby sitting because they're temperamental.

Anyway, if you can afford a better made incubator, just get it. Trust me. I also started out in the mindset that I'll only be hatching a few chicks every year and went cheap. Well, I like fluffy chicks and I hatch hundreds of chicks each year. I would've saved myself a TON of work and worry if I'd have gotten something better from the get go!

Good luck smile.png
Nikki
*C'mon, get flappy!*
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Nikki
*C'mon, get flappy!*
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post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by tbevans View Post

I will be hatching my own eggs my ducks have laid. I'm not looking to spend a fortune because I won't hatch every fertilized egg laid. I just want to hatch a few every so often. I began researching incubators because I wasn't sure my mallard would go broody or not and also because I know my mallard won't be able to hatch all of her eggs and my pekin eggs. Saturday I had 25 eggs between the 2 of them. But I believe my mallard actually started sitting this morning! I went to feed this morning and she was sitting on them. Ive checked on them several times today and every time I've went out there shes been sitting on them..or the ones she can anyway..she's obviously not big enough to sit on all of them. I thought a small incubator would be a good thing to have on hand to help hatch a few. I'm new to all of this so I do appreciate all pointers and advice!

Good luck to mama duck!! What about turning, are you available to turn? And yes, either way you go (styro vs plastic) I would go with forced air.
Quote:
Originally Posted by howfunkyisurchicken View Post

I can tell you from experience that styro-bators are not the best. But, you'll learn a bunch about the incubation process through trial and error (thats how it worked for me, anyway). I have 2 Little Giants, and they can be very finicky. But, that one being a forced air 'bator is a plus, that will make things much easier as far as temp stability is concerned.

If you end up going the styrofoam route, be prepared to fiddle with that thing for a few days before setting eggs in it. And then be prepared to hover over it to check the temp for the next 21-28-how ever many days it takes for your ducks to hatch. They require some baby sitting because they're temperamental.

Anyway, if you can afford a better made incubator, just get it. Trust me. I also started out in the mindset that I'll only be hatching a few chicks every year and went cheap. Well, I like fluffy chicks and I hatch hundreds of chicks each year. I would've saved myself a TON of work and worry if I'd have gotten something better from the get go!

Good luck smile.png
Great post!! And so true! I bought my first incubator because I wanted to do *only* one set with the kids for educational purposes. I've set eggs every month since!! gig.gif
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the answers!! I did some shopping online and I think I will be investing in a small, but better incubator! But I will be waiting a month or so before getting one. My mallard went broody smile.png and has been sitting since Monday so I'm going to see how it goes!! I will be getting a incubator tho cause there's no way she will be able to hatch all the eggs between her and my pekin..there are just way too many eggs! Lol I've had some friends want ducklings in the spring so I'll have to get ready to hatch several for them also! I'm too excited! Haha should I wait till next Monday (to make 8 days of her sitting) before candling?
post #9 of 9
I actually made my still air incubator the other day as I knew my eggs would be arriving today. I bought the best digital thermometer/hygrometer that money can buy & so far the temp & humidity has stayed consistent for 48 hours. It definitely takes some babysitting but I'm home all day to check the levels & turn the eggs. Our eggs arrived today! I did have a question about the humidity levels at the beginning. I've read a few different things. What should it be & I've also read different things about letting them come to room temp before I place them in the incubator. Any advice from you chicken lovers on temp, humidity & resting to room temp before incubating would sure be appreciated! I trust the info I get here more than the random answers I've received through my research. We have Silkie X Cochin eggs. Hooping for a good hatch! I did this when I was younger & it was the coolest thing! I wanted my 8 year old son to experience it after he made all As on his report card. So we're giving it a whirl. We were dying for Silkie eggs due to being the "lap dogs" of the chicken world. However, I've researched & read that Cochins are wonderful as pets too so I'm really hoping we have a few hatch. So excited to see what they'll look like!! Thanks in advance guys!!
Edited by jenEbean - 10/22/15 at 9:25pm
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