Advice for a Newbie! Now in Lockdown!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by MommaB, Jul 16, 2011.

  1. MommaB

    MommaB Out Of The Brooder

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    [​IMG] Hi all!

    My set date was 6/29. Tomorrow I will remove my turner and leave them alone. I have a Still Air Incubator by Little Giant. It was a gift for my daughter on her 7th birthday.

    This is my second attempt at incubation. My first attempt I set 27 eggs. When it was time to remove the turner it seemed that all my babies were developing well. The hatching started and I only hatched 4. I don't know what I did wrong. I filled the reservior to be sure and maintain humidity (I don't have a hygrometer).

    A friend told me that she started allowing her water supply to decrease at the end. She said she had a better hatch after she started doing that.

    Did I drown my babies?

    Last go round we incubated silkies eggs from a neighbor. This time I got Old English Bantams from our chickens. I candled them at 11 days and 6 of the 10 were doing great! I don't know if I will be able to try again if I kill these.

    Help me please!
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2011
  2. jm93030

    jm93030 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am not familiar with the LG
    but I have this information from another BYK member , hope it helps


    Henthusiasts' Still-Air Styrofoam Incubation Cheat-Sheet



    ***The first, most important rule is: get the temp right with an empty incubator, and make sure it's stable for 48 hours- without the plugs, without you touching it- BEFORE you add eggs.***

    This is the hardest part, and if you can be good and do it, you have a much better shot at success. Do it before you order eggs, even. That gives you time to get it perfect.


    Use 3 (yes, 3!) of the sealed-in-glass aquarium thermometers from Wally World ($1.70 each, I always have at least a dozen on hand for my 6 incubators).


    They have a little green suction cup- I leave it on and move it to the weighted end for one thermometer, the top end on another and the middle for the third. This makes them a slight bit different in elevation in the incubator as the turner moves, so you can average them for the true temp.



    Place them where it will be easy to read from the windows, and turn them in the suction cup so they're angled correctly to read the red line through your windows. They need to be on the turner, wedged between eggs so you can read what the center of the egg is, internally.



    This is the only reliable way, as the thermometers that come with the incubators on cardboard change as humidity changes, and they tell you the eggs' top temperature or the temp on the floor! Took forever to figure out my incubator wasn't really spiking as badly as the thermometer said, but that the temp spikes were due to the cardboard shrinking and swelling from humidity!


    When you put eggs in, it will take hours to get stable again- ignore it!!! Walk away for a day!!! The temp will drop when you first add eggs. Don't adjust it at all. After a day with eggs, you can put a plug in to go up a degree or two. You can add another plug if you need to. If you're over 101.5*F 24 hours after you add eggs, you can turn the thing down A HAIR.

    That's all. Don't adjust again for a day- be patient. **Don't dismiss this recommendation.** You can go up a degree or two per plug you add at this point, too.

    Try not to use the knob to adjust. Being a bit off in the beginning as it takes your eggs up to temperature internally is less destructive than yo-yo adjustments. Stability is only accomplished with real patience.


    AFTER the first 2 days, during which the eggs are being brought up to temp:

    If the temp isn't too hot- like 102* consistently for 2 hours, I don't turn it down.
    If it's not below 98* consistently for 2+ hours, I don't turn it up. I add a plug and wait 24 hours. I haven't adjusted my thermostats in 6+ months.


    You can get it stable. My incubators are always full. **So are my brooders.**


    Ignore humidity until day 18. Do I need to repeat that? No water, no worries. Ignore it completely.



    For lockdown, roll up paper towels and stuff them in the water channels, then fill the channels. Lay another paper towel across the wire. I use them because they're disposable, so they won't harbor bacteria, and they increase the surface area of the evaporative substrate while wicking moisture up through the channels from the PT swelling up out of them. You'll then have BOTH sides of the paper towel exposed on the wire, plus the surface of the ones rolled up in the channels, which swell to rise over the channels themselves. You'll easily hit 75% if you follow my instructions. It may even fog up. It's okay, as it will settle down, and since you used no water previously, the high humidity will not pose a threat, as they have already evaporated the majority of the egg moisture- no drownings!

    Put the eggs on the now damp paper towel which will have absorbed water from the paper towels poking up out of the water channels, and make sure the whole lot stays wet for 3 days while in lockdown. If you must add water (which is likely) use tubing through the holes on the top of the incubator or open a window to do it. Don't open the lid, if you can help it. I do go in through a window sometimes on the LG. Actually, I do a lot!! I'm not very good about that particular discipline. I have often used a small funnel to ads a bit of H2O at a time through a vent hole, just letting it fall on the paper towel on the wire. Sometimes the eggs get dribbled on- it doesn't matter, so long as you use lukewarm water.


    I've hatched hundreds or thousands of eggs this way- YOU MUST GET THE INCUBATOR STABLE BEFORE YOU ADD EGGS.





    ACK!! One more thing. If you only have one machine, it's best to use egg cartons to hatch them, with the bottom cut out of each little cup for air movement. Otherwise, when you take out the turner the eggs are laying so much lower than they were in the turner that the temps are no longer appropriate and they're way too cold. This is important! Even a tiny bit of difference in height can mean a big difference in yolk-temp so you might wipe them out in the last 3 days if you don't use a carton or prop up the wire. You can mark the turner edge on the styrofoam and use that line to help you position the wire on shallow bowls or compote cups to get the middle of the eggs at the same height they were for the first 18 days. Put the wire back in and you're good to go. Egg cartons are easier. This doesn't affect hatchability, but you won't want the paper towel on the wire AND cardboard cartons, as this will be too humid.

    If you have had both plugs out the whole time, you might be able to get the right temp for them lying on the floor by just plugging both holes, but that's an unknown factor until you've tried it, and you don't want to find out with eggs that are about to hatch. I use a separate machine as the hatcher to avoid this conundrum.



    Hope it makes sense!

    Let me know if you have any questions. ChooksChick at gmail dot com.



    I'm adding this Q & A section for frequently asked questions. Let me know if there's something you'd like to see here.



    Q. Can you describe your feelings on the humidity portion and why you suggest no water at all?



    A. The method I describe is also referred to as 'dry incubation' and it's the only sure way I know of to decrease the embryonic mass by enough in the first 2 1/2 weeks to make the baby small enough to negotiate getting in the right position to pip properly. Many times if there isn't enough evaporation, the chick can't get into the right position to get enough leverage to pip and they never make it out. The chick is just too big.
    If there's substantial evaporation, this seems to be less of a problem. You do need to have adequate humidity for the chick to not get glued in, however, so you increase the humidity to prevent the remaining moisture from dying as the chick opens the shell with first the pip and then the zip. That's why it's important to watch the humidity at the end. There's a whole host of various opinions about how to incubate, but this has worked for me a zillion times and I encourage folks to at least read it, even if they choose another method, just to get some ideas about shat they observe and have a bit of background so they can make educated decisions as they go through their chosen method the first time.



    Q. Will this work on a forced-air incubator?



    A. Yes, many have used it on a forced air incubator, but I suggest you don't let the humidity dip below 20% for more than a few hours, adding a tad of water through a straw if it's that low for more than 8 hours. I also advocate using the paper towels on the last three days STRONGLY, because anytime a pip is large but the pipper is slow, gluing can occur more easily with the fan and air movement.

    If you can turn off the fan for the lockdown period, that would be ideal.
     
  3. MommaB

    MommaB Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 16, 2011
    Thank you so much for this info!
     
  4. jm93030

    jm93030 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]

    keep us posted
     
  5. MommaB

    MommaB Out Of The Brooder

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    I definitely will. I'm thinking I should see some action Wednesday. I have a workshop Wednesday and it is going to kill me to not be at home with the chicks.
     
  6. MommaB

    MommaB Out Of The Brooder

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    Just an update! I couldn't sleep last night for thinking about my eggs. Is it obvious that I obsess???[​IMG]

    Anyway, I saw feathers in one, moving in another, two or three eggs were extremely full and one seemed to have movement but be significantly smaller than the others.

    I tried to lift up my wire but was not as prepared as I thought. After removing the eggs and the turner I realized that what I had was too big so I ran for more and after 3 attempts found something to fit (which wasn't tall enough). I placed paper towels in the reservoirs and place two half pieces in on the wire. I left enough space to insert a tube to add water later.

    I'm assuming that because I left my reservoir pretty full that I may have over watered them. My humidity right now is 45%. I will leave it that away until closer to hatch and either wait until I have a pip or until I have talked myself in to something else.

    I am a nervous wreck. I have class this week and will have trouble concentrating for thinking of my chicks. I really need to try and keep telling myself that I have done the best I could with the knowledge I had and leave the rest to God. Hopefully if things don't turn out well I won't be so heartbroken that I can't try again. With all of this new knowledge I could be a chicking raising animal! [​IMG]
     
  7. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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    MommaB ---

    Remember how many times our children try to stand, pulling themselves up, falling down, trying again, and again and again. All just to stand. Walking still in the future. Please use this opportunity to learn--not to give up. IF, that is IF, this hatch doesn't go as well as expected, take the time to review the set up, temps, and open the eggs. THen go to a university site to review hatching problems. EVERYONE has had hatching problems. That's why the list of problems is so long!! LOL [​IMG]

    Try this one:

    http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/aa204
     
  8. MommaB

    MommaB Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks Arielle! It is an amazing thing to grow life! I guess definitely worth the effort and risk!
     
  9. bugsaroo

    bugsaroo Out Of The Brooder

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    read the post about the height of the eggs and the temperature, amazing what a difference height and the turn motor makes. I have had luck with filling the channel with water, adding a layer of paper towels on the top of the wire and then add about 1 1/2 inches of the pine sawdust bedding that I buy. I have had people tell me to never use pine bedding because of the oils, never had trouble. I am careful not to add too much water to the area where the eggs are, if the bedding gets wet, it is cold, so I dampen the edges and keep the eggs in the middle. I easily shoot up to 65% humidity. Anyone else ever try this?
     
  10. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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    This is interesting . . .lay a paper towel over the schreen then the shavings cover the paper towel. You dampen the outer perimeter of the shavings but NOT where the eggs nestle in the middle? Did I get it? And the moisture will increase?
     

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