Since we've had such luck (and fun!) raising up our Silkie peeps, my kids and I would like to try hatching our own eggs. This will be our first endeavor. Does anyone have any advice for us? We do not have an incubator, so since this is our first time, should I go ahead and buy one, or will we have as much success with a home-built one? Also, what kind of bird is easier to hatch, or does it not matter? We're considering chickens, guineas and geese. Any help would be awesome. Thank you!
Best kind of eggs for first time incubation?
I built a homemade incubator for my first hatch. It did require a lot of research and some doing it and re-doing it to get it to work right before I bought some eggs to put in it. It all boils down to what you wanna do. If you like building a simple machine then go for it! I would recommend getting a wafer thermostat though instead of a water heater thermostat, which I bought, but its not very sensitive. The temperature wobbles around from 97 to 99 degrees and sometimes from 95 to 99 degrees. You'll want it to stay as close as possible to 99.5-100.0 degrees for chicken eggs.
I've also bought a couple of incubators and they are worth their weight in gold to me! They hold temperature very nicely and are easier to clean. The only problem I've had with store bought incubators is getting the humidity up at the end for lockdown. That has been tough. I have chicks hatching today in my Little Giant and I have all the water trays filled, two soaked hot sponges, AND a wet paper towel in there and the humidity is barely reaching 70%. I like my humidity between 75-80% for hatch out. If they take a long time hatching this keeps the broken membrane from drying out and sticking to the chick.
I also had a Brinsea 20 Eco and did one hatch in it. It held temperature amazing well and was a nice, simple design. But I think the ceiling is too low on that model and again the humidity raising problem during lockdown is even harder because the space under the basket that holds the eggs is super thin and small. I ended up selling it after one hatch so I lost money on that deal. Brinsea's aren't cheap.
As for what type of eggs to hatch the first time, I would go with a standard chicken egg from a local farm. Hatch rates are better if the eggs aren't shipped because they are (usually) fresher and they have not been roughly handled by postal workers. Most local farms that sell "farm fresh eggs" will usually be willing to sell some really cheap too! I can get a dozen near my house for $3! You don't want to spend too much on eggs your first go around. My first 14 eggs I set only costs me $1 for all of them. I got 8 chicks from them! They were quite a mix too and fun to watch hatch and try to guess what in the world kind of chickens they were! I even got one turken! The craziest thing I've ever seen in my life!!! Good luck and keep me posted on how it goes with your first batch!