This will be my first of 13 settings in 2016, as I try to progress with my inbreeding project. My laying pullets are all 1st generation cross between a single BCM rooster, and 23 Red Sexlink hens. I've since added 2 unrelated BCM roosters to the flock. I estimate I will have 21 of these Gen1 pullets laying by 1/6, and hope to gather the 100 eggs needed in the 10 days leading up to the setting date. The setting date has been chosen based on my local meat processor, who closes just before Christmas and opens again on May 31. 1/6 gets me 18 week old cockerels on their opening day. I'm setting 100 approximately ever 24 days through to October 20, which should net me Gen 4 birds, in the hopes they lay beautifully dark BCM-type eggs.
I did 8 settings this year, the last one on October 1st. Chicks and larger birds are doing great, with some natural selection occurring. I expect that to continue with these winter hatches as I will be putting chicks into outdoor (well, in the coop) brooders on Day 2 or 3. I have 3 brooders, and have had 33 4-week olds in one before, so they should be fine. At 4 weeks they will be released in a Juvenile coop. This year I have found that having many different aged birds, albeit close in age (3-4 weeks between groups) leads to few problems in the coop. Given they are diversely colored, no one group dominates and new additions are accepted. The biggest problem is crowding. When the birds bunch up to share body heat, inevitably one every day or two gets lost due to smothering. This only seems to happen when birds are 5-6 weeks old, and only for that 2 week period. I am accepting these losses as natural selection. I should point out that this is happening with 70+ birds together who aren't roosting. Once they roost there is a ton of space, and no more deaths.
I used a Hovabator 1544, a Janoel 48, and a Brinsea Octo40 EX ADV this year. I've opted to replace all of those with this new Brinsea Ova Easy 100. I received it today, and its one beautiful piece of precision equipment. This is the "Series II" version, which from what I can tell, are an upgrade from the originals. Series II includes room temperature sensing (high and low), and a way to make the trays level on demand (great for being able to take trays out to weigh them.) Mine came with a free Advanced Humidity Pump also. There's a cooling feature, simulating a hen getting up off her eggs daily. I can play with how often the trays tilt, or how often the Advanced Humidity Pump cycles (useful if pumping up, or over long distances, or even to multiple bators). Anyway, lots of menu items to play with...eventually.
For this first use, I plan to follow Brinsea's instructions. That means from Day 1; 99.5F, 45% RH, Trays turned every 45 minutes - from Day 7, cooling for 2 hours a day - from Day 19, RH 65% and turning stopped.
I am considering putting all the eggs that will go into the setting into the Brinsea with its temperature set at 68F (the lowest temperature it offers) with the idea of using it to keep the eggs turning leading up to the actual set date. Not sure if 68F is too high to "store" eggs without causing any incubation to occur. I thought I might be able to provide reasonably high humidity during that time to prevent weight loss. This part is all speculation at this moment. I may just rig up some other method of turning them manually leading up to set date.
So, let me know what you are setting. I do not wish to take anyone away from the 7th Annual BYC New Year's Day Hatch-A-Long. They're hatching before I'm setting. There is probably a ton of great advice in that thread to help with brooding in winter and such.
Edited by NTBugtraq - 12/7/15 at 3:49pm