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How hard is this supposed to be?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I've set eggs three times, a full incubator (41 eggs) each time and of those times I've only successfully hatched 2 chicks.
The first time I had wide temperature and humidity fluctiations so no surprises. I don't think any survived the first week. The second time I think I had the wrong temp (a little too high) or the wrong set date marked on the calendar. I went to remove the turner and increase the humidity but they were already pipping. That run I got the two but I think the rest got stuck in their shells. This last time I had my toddler cause a 115 degree spike for several hours. I'm hoping they might have made it otherwise as I found a beautiful chick with its egg sac upon egg-topsy.
Is it really that hard to hatch chicks in an incubator? I have one with a fan. It is hard to get the temp right as I only have to bump the nob by a hairs breadth to change the temp from 98.8 to 102.1. Should I aim for the higher or lower temp? And what humidity is best? Was aiming for 55% for most of it and 65% for the last three days.
post #2 of 6

Looks like you have a few problems to iron out before your next hatch.  Have you read all of Hatching eggs 101 in the learning center?  It's full of lots of helpful info.  Can you put the bator somewhere where your toddler can't access it?  Calibrate your thermometers to 100*.  Try dry incubation, which is not really dry.  It's lower humidity through day 18 to manage air cell size.  I aim for 25 - 35%, but the entire purpose of this is to keep the air cells the right size so the chicks are not too big and wet at hatch (which I think is part of your problem).  You need to spend a couple of days with the incubator running, without eggs to get your temp fine tuned. (I like to put some sealed bottles of water in the bator during this time, for thermal mass to = the volume of eggs I'll be setting. Those knobs are a pain, that's for sure.  Some folks glue a milk cap onto the knob to make it easier to get that ever so tiny amount of turn to get the temp right.  Is the room temp stable?  Many incubators can't hold steady temp unless room temp holds steady around 70*.  And finally, even after you have everything stabalized and commit eggs, you can expect your temp to drop in the first 24 hours.  DON'T TOUCH THAT DIAL! (unless you get a temp spike that lasts for more than an hour or goes above 103!)  Then, as the eggs start growing, they'll produce more of their own heat, and you may need to turn the temp down a bit.  I find I need to adjust a bit around day 7, and day 14.  But, I'm always on the look out for temp creep.  Finally, where are you testing your temp?  At the top of the eggs, and checking throughout all quadrants of the bator?  You need to know where your hot and cool spots are before eggs go in.

Jesus Christ is my pilot.

My husband of 41 years is my best friend and co-pilot.

Enjoying my gardens.  My flock are my garden helpers.

Breeding a winter hearty flock with small combs and colored eggs.

Favorite breeds:  Dominique and EE.  Hatching addict.

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1084432/egg-gender-selection-survey

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1013154/byc-member-interview-laz...

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Jesus Christ is my pilot.

My husband of 41 years is my best friend and co-pilot.

Enjoying my gardens.  My flock are my garden helpers.

Breeding a winter hearty flock with small combs and colored eggs.

Favorite breeds:  Dominique and EE.  Hatching addict.

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1084432/egg-gender-selection-survey

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1013154/byc-member-interview-laz...

Reply
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lazy gardener View Post

Looks like you have a few problems to iron out before your next hatch.  Have you read all of Hatching eggs 101 in the learning center?  It's full of lots of helpful info.  Can you put the bator somewhere where your toddler can't access it?  Calibrate your thermometers to 100*.  Try dry incubation, which is not really dry.  It's lower humidity through day 18 to manage air cell size.  I aim for 25 - 35%, but the entire purpose of this is to keep the air cells the right size so the chicks are not too big and wet at hatch (which I think is part of your problem).  You need to spend a couple of days with the incubator running, without eggs to get your temp fine tuned. (I like to put some sealed bottles of water in the bator during this time, for thermal mass to = the volume of eggs I'll be setting. Those knobs are a pain, that's for sure.  Some folks glue a milk cap onto the knob to make it easier to get that ever so tiny amount of turn to get the temp right.  Is the room temp stable?  Many incubators can't hold steady temp unless room temp holds steady around 70*.  And finally, even after you have everything stabalized and commit eggs, you can expect your temp to drop in the first 24 hours.  DON'T TOUCH THAT DIAL! (unless you get a temp spike that lasts for more than an hour or goes above 103!)  Then, as the eggs start growing, they'll produce more of their own heat, and you may need to turn the temp down a bit.  I find I need to adjust a bit around day 7, and day 14.  But, I'm always on the look out for temp creep.  Finally, where are you testing your temp?  At the top of the eggs, and checking throughout all quadrants of the bator?  You need to know where your hot and cool spots are before eggs go in.
Wow! So what you're saying is "yes...this can be as hard as it looks." Lol. Okay, with a dry run I guess I shouldn't add water until the end as the humidity seems to run about 25-30% all by itself. The temp in te room is steady and I check the temp in the middle. I assumed because of the fan the temp inside should be relatively consistent. I will check out the bator 101 guide. I've done a lot of research already, but apparently I need to do more. And yes, the toddler is henceforth banned from the room with the incubator.
post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by rssnbabybear View Post


Wow! So what you're saying is "yes...this can be as hard as it looks." Lol. Okay, with a dry run I guess I shouldn't add water until the end as the humidity seems to run about 25-30% all by itself. The temp in te room is steady and I check the temp in the middle. I assumed because of the fan the temp inside should be relatively consistent. I will check out the bator 101 guide. I've done a lot of research already, but apparently I need to do more. And yes, the toddler is henceforth banned from the room with the incubator.

 

Like LG said, some people have glued big buttons or even Legos to the adjustment knob to make it easier to turn it in small increments.

 

I follow this chart, and adjust the humidity up or down depending on the air cell size at day 7, 14 & 18.  If it's too small, lower the humidity.  If it's growing too fast, raise the humidity.

 

 

 

It's not "hard", you just need to have accurate measurements and let the air cell tell you what adjustments to make.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing - Edmund Burke
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The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing - Edmund Burke
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post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FridayYet View Post

Like LG said, some people have glued big buttons or even Legos to the adjustment knob to make it easier to turn it in small increments.

I follow this chart, and adjust the humidity up or down depending on the air cell size at day 7, 14 & 18.  If it's too small, lower the humidity.  If it's growing too fast, raise the humidity.





It's not "hard", you just need to have accurate measurements and let the air cell tell you what adjustments to make.
Okay, so judging by the chart I think my humidity is too high. This last incubation I really think my toddler 'cooked' them, but this gives me a better chance at a successful hatch this next time.
post #6 of 6

I'd add that it is most important to calibrate both temperature and humidity. They are not always correct.  My hygrometers were 15 points off...lol! 

 

It's super easy to do the ice water and salt calibrations. :thumbsup 

I think it's in the hatching 101.

150+ chickens: Ameraucana, Icelandic, EE, OE, Crele & Silver Duckwing OEGB, Silkies, Barred Rock, 1 Button Quail
A bunch 'o guinea fowl.
19 rabbits, 3 dogs, 8 cats, 2 budgies, 2 llamas, Katahdin sheep, cattle and a leopard Appaloosa.

"Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you."
- Jackson Brown
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150+ chickens: Ameraucana, Icelandic, EE, OE, Crele & Silver Duckwing OEGB, Silkies, Barred Rock, 1 Button Quail
A bunch 'o guinea fowl.
19 rabbits, 3 dogs, 8 cats, 2 budgies, 2 llamas, Katahdin sheep, cattle and a leopard Appaloosa.

"Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you."
- Jackson Brown
Reply
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