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Best investment choice?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Storybook Farm, Oct 26, 2015.

  1. Storybook Farm

    Storybook Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    I've been keeping a basic barnyard flock of mutts this past year to see if we liked chicken keeping (we love it!) and to learn about them (who knew they could be so varied and have such personalities!?).

    In 2016, I plan to choose a quality heritage breed trio and seek to improve my flock as I go. 2016, then, will be about hatching out as many eggs from my trio as possible to get my numbers up. I'm thinking (conservatively) that if I can gather 5 eggs per hen per week, I'd want to set about a dozen eggs per week.

    So, I'm going to have low volume weekly, but every egg counts, so I want a high hatch rate.

    I am not totally strapped for cash, and as I understand the hatching process, I'd probably do best with a series of smaller incubators (like, 3 of them) and then maybe a still-air Hovabator to use solely for lock downs/hatching than to get (or fabricate) a larger, cabinate model. I am generally at home, and have a place where I can place the units in a room that will have constant air temps (barring a power outage).

    So much for my logic. :) Now: my question:

    I read so much about the poor quality of Styrofoam models, vis a vis my desire for high hatch rates that I am tempted to spend practically double for Brinsea. However, three of the most basic, 20-egg models approaches $500, without automatic turning. Are the cheaper Hovabator or Farm Innovation models really a bad investment for me, or not?
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2015
  2. dheltzel

    dheltzel Overrun With Chickens

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    If you are looking in the $500 range, watch the ads (Craigslist or whatever) for a used Sportsman cabinet incubator. There is one for sale in NJ now for $500. That is much better for serious hatching than a Brinsea. I'm speaking mostly about capacity, the Brinsea will hatch eggs fine, maybe as well as a Sportsman, but it only holds a fraction of the eggs.

    For hatching, I made a large "coolerbator" with a digital thermostat. It works great because when I open it the humid air doesn't dump on the floor. There is not room for a turner, but you don't want that anyway. You definitely want a separate hatcher, and you can't buy one that is better than one you build from a cooler, esp with regard to cleanup.

    If you aren't sure about getting into a large incubator. Get a Hovabator Genesis for incubating and a coolerbator for hatching. The styros main drawback is that they are hard to clean after a hatch, but they are a good value in their price range. I have one as a backup/overflow for my Sportsman (yes, I overflowed a 288 egg capacity incubator !!). The Genesis is head and shoulders better than the other Hovabators, definitely worth the extra money.
     
  3. Storybook Farm

    Storybook Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    101
    Jun 5, 2015
    Sugar Grove, WV
    My Coop
  4. dheltzel

    dheltzel Overrun With Chickens

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    Nov 30, 2013
    Pottstown, PA
    Staggered hatching times are dependent on you having a separate hatcher, the incubation period has the same settings for the whole time. I run mine dry (20 - 30% RH) and set more eggs every Saturday. If you set less than a tray at a time (96 standard chicken eggs, more for bantams, pheasants, guineas, less for turkey, goose, peafowl), you just start a new tray each week and pull the oldes out when it is time to put them into lockdown in your hatcher.

    I don't know anyone selling coolerbators, but they should! They are not hard to make, I have opinions about the best way, as do others. You need either fans or very even heating if it is still air. I think building an incubator or hatcher is an excellent wintertime project. Check out the Incubator Warehouse for all sorts of components and kits. Something like this would make it easy to turn an old cooler into a hatcher: http://incubatorwarehouse.com/48-watt-incukit-dc.html

    I don't have experience with the cheap, imported incubators like this. They seem cheaply made and poorly insulated. Like most online purchases, you can find both good and bad reviews.
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    Sally Sunshine has a very well written and photographed documentation of her 3 tray cooler bator build. If I were looking to do weekly hatching, I'd build one of those, and also build a smaller bator just to use for hatching. IMO, if you can wire a lamp with good instructions, you can build a custom bator that is at least as good if not better and for 1/3 the price of one you could buy. Building a nice bator is a nice little project, not as involved as building a coop, tractor, or run, but still a lot of personal satisfaction to be had from the job, if you are a DIY person. Also, check out the videos by Rush Lane Poultry.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2015

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