1st Time Incubating

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by MonTXChickens, Feb 21, 2015.

  1. MonTXChickens

    MonTXChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello all! I am pretty excited because late this afternoon, I put eggs in the incubator for the first time. There are 13 Wheaten/Blue Wheaten eggs and 5 Jubilee Orpingtons. I can't wait to see how this goes. We ran the incubator for about 2 days trying to get it right and the temperature stable before the eggs went in. The incubator is a Hova Bator that has the turbofan. I picked it up at a garage sale about a year ago. I am going to get a back up incubator asap (just in case but hope we don't need it). There is an automatic egg turner in it. So here we go!

    I have reached the point that I don't know what I don't know. I have read articles and BYC posts and YouTube... I think that I have have followed the things that we designated most important by the various sources.

    Well, we'll see what happens... I am so hopeful. I looked through at the temperature gauge a ton of times. I feel a little like I should do more but won't be opening the top until its time to check for development.

    The checking process is still a little scary for me... I am assuming I lift the lid a little and slip out 1 egg at a time.

    Let me hear from you. I want to hear all of the positive tips that you can provide and hope that you will keep an criticism constructive.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Have you calibrated your thermometer so you are sure you know you can trust that thermometer? To me, that is important. I don’t really trust any thermometer until it proves itself, especially the ones that come with the incubator.

    The eggs will hatch if you don’t candle them. Candling is not required, but it is a lot of fun and it is educational. Just don’t make any rash decisions about throwing eggs away until you gain some confidence in your candling abilities. I know it is hard, but be patient. A broody hen never candles her eggs.

    Don’t worry yourself sick about opening the incubator. It’s not a big deal. A broody hen will leave the nest every day to eat, drink, and poop. In warm weather like you probably have inside your house she may be off the nest for an hour or more. It’s not a big deal.

    The instantaneous air temperature is not the concern. The core temperature of the egg is what is important. Those eggs are so dense and hold heat so well it takes them a long time to cool down. Same thing with the humidity. Instantaneous humidity isn’t important. It’s average humidity over the incubation that controls moisture loss. A half hour of low humidity is pretty irrelevant in the overall incubation as long as the egg has not pipped. When you candle take your time. Don’t get so stressed out you hurry and accidently drop one.

    It is an exciting time and it is a stressful time. I know it does no good to tell you to quit worrying. Worry is interest paid before it is due. Just try to be patient and don’t do anything rash. Just make sure the turner is turning and the heat and humidity is where you want them. That’s all you can do.
     
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  3. Jedwards

    Jedwards Chillin' With My Peeps

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  4. MonTXChickens

    MonTXChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for your reply!

    When I read the posts concerning incubating, some of them sound as if every second, degree, and humidity percentage point were critical from day one. Some people really make this sound complicated and difficult. Your thoughts are far more assuring. I have placed a thermometer/hygrometer I bought from Walmart in the bottom at egg level to monitor temp and humidity and there is a meat thermometer stuck through the top as well. I have been paying more attention to the Walmart thermometer than the meat thermometer because it is at the level of the eggs but I thought having two measurements was better than one. (BTW the meat thermometer was already in the top when I bought this from the previous owner. I just left it.) Maybe you can tell me why some of the incubator pictures I have seen have closed jars of water in them? I have seen baby food jars and Ball jars. I am sure it has to do with temperature stability but not sure of the details.
     
  5. MonTXChickens

    MonTXChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you Jedwards! I have read so many posts that my eyes are crossing. There are a lot of people with conflicting absolutes when you read through. I tried to set everything up based on the majority of posts rather than fringe. For instance, if you read through the posts, there is a great disparity in recommended humidity levels. I don't know why so many people have such different thoughts on humidity. We live in southeast Texas so if these eggs were being hatched by a chicken, the humidity would be much higher than many other parts of the country. In the late Spring and all summer, we can have near 100% for weeks on end. AGain, thank you for the reply and I will keep reading looking for something that I missed and either adjust what I am doing now or incorporate it into my next hatch.
     
  6. n3kms

    n3kms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have been worrying over my first incubation for the last 3 weeks. I have opened my little cheap incubator way more than I thought I should. I have had the humidity all over the place. I have marked air cells and thought they were too small. Know what I got on day 21 for all that worry?
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    When that last one gets hatched, all 7 that went to lock down will be here.
     
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  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    A lot of the guidelines you read on here come from the commercial hatching industry, the people where one hatchery might hatch 1,000,000 chicks a week using incubators that hold 60,000 or even 120,0000 eggs each. Just a minor change in hatch rate can mean a whole lot of chicks over the course of a year for them. I normally hatch around 40 chicks a year, half of them under broody hens. I would not notice a 1% difference in hatch rate a year, but for that one commercial hatchery 1% would mean 500,000 chicks a year. That’s noticeable. The guidelines are important, you need to know what your target should be, but there is a lot of leeway in many of them. There is not a sudden change from where all eggs will hatch to where no egg will hatch. The further you stray from the ideal conditions the less likely the egg is to hatch, but with many of those guidelines you have to travel a pretty good distance away from the ideal before it gets very noticeable. Know what you are shooting for, but just do the best you reasonably can and you will probably do OK.

    Not every incubator is the same. The commercial boys know they have to learn each new incubator and tweak it to get the best hatch rate even when they have identical models. They also know that if they move an incubator from one side of the room to the other, they will have to relearn how to hatch in it. Conditions have changed. It may be the temperature or humidity of the air going in has changed, it may be something else.

    Not all eggs are the same. You get the obvious differences in how and how long they were stored or maybe they were handled differently. There are also differences in each egg. Some have thicker shells, more porous shells, maybe the egg white is thicker or thinner. That means the same humidity is not perfect for each and every egg. What you are trying to do with the humidity is to get to a certain moisture loss in the egg. Since each egg is different you would need a separate incubator for each egg and carefully tuned to that egg to get it perfect. That’s not going to happen.

    Last year a brave soul did a hatching journal on here to keep track of moisture loss. He carefully weighed each egg to record weight loss, thinking to adjust the humidity to get it right. The weight loss per egg was way different. There was no way he could hit the perfect humidity for each egg. The only way to do that was to take an average of all the eggs and try to get it close for as many as he could.

    The good news out of all this is that there is a pretty wide band of humidity where the eggs have a good chance of hatching. You don’t have to get the humidity perfect for each egg. As long as you are close you can be pretty successful. You need to determine what humidity works for you and that comes with trial and error.

    My suggestion is to do the best you reasonably can, select a target humidity and try to stick with it. After the hatch is over open any unhatched eggs and try to determine why it did not hatch. That’s not real easy, by the way. There are a huge number of reasons an egg may not have hatched. Just do the best you can then try tweaking the incubator to see if you can improve on your hatch rate.

    For what it is worth, the commercial operations hatch about 90% of the eggs they put in the incubator. About half their failures are due to something that happened before the egg went in the incubator; fertility, how the egg was handled, health and nutrition of the parents, dirty eggs, things like that. About half the failures are due to the incubation process; heat, humidity, improper turning, not good fresh air exchange, something like that. With them hatching 1,000,000 a week their averages mean something. With the number of chicks I hatch my average doesn’t mean a lot. I’ve had 100% hatches and I had one that was only 33% due to me improperly transporting the eggs. I sure learned something from that incubation.

    Good luck. Lots of us make mistakes and a few of us actually earn from them.
     
  8. MonTXChickens

    MonTXChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for your thorough and thoughtful response! Your response is what keeps me coming back to BYC. I will post more questions for you if anything comes up if you don't mind and I will post updates as they happen. If I am successful and get some chicks, I will share the pictures of those as well.
     
  9. MonTXChickens

    MonTXChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, maybe this is a silly question - What is the closed jar of water that I have seen in some of the incubator pictures that I have seen on BYC for? Some are baby food size and some are Ball jars. I assume this is for stability of temperature but how do you determine what size and how many and if they are even necessary?
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    The closed jars of water should not be necessary but if you have much risk of loss of power it can come in handy. It is for temperature stability. Technically that is called a thermal mass. It stores up heat and will give off heat if you lose power. There is no formula for how much you need, especially since most people don’t use them. The more thermal mass you have the longer the incubator stays warm.

    I used the same principle, sort of, when I lived in south Louisiana. I’d fill the freezer so if we lost power due to a hurricane the freezer would stay colder longer so we were not at such great risk of losing the stuff inside. If I didn’t have it filled with fish or something else, I’d fill empty milk cartons with water and freeze that. Those large chunks of ice lasted a long time in my fish cooler to keep any fish I caught fresher too.
     

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