Can styrofoam Incubators be cleaned adequately?

Whoops

Songster
6 Years
Aug 18, 2013
768
70
118
Albuquerque, NM
Hi all

I am thinking of hatching some eggs in the spring. I am looking at incubators and especially used ones. Can the Styrofoam ones be cleaned and sanitized? I would want to use it over and over when I add new hens to the flock, and I would like to get some fun, rare-breed eggs so I would like to do everything I reasonably can to ensure a high hatch rate and healthy chicks.

Anyone have any suggestions or advice?
 

loveourbirds

Songster
6 Years
Mar 27, 2013
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waverly ohio
you can fumigate them, but after a certain point (a few months of constant use) its usually not worth it. hovabator does have a plastic liner that helps a little- im not sure if it comes with them or is an option.

the next step up is a brisnea, i personally have never owned one; but they come highly recommended by users on here. the plastic would be easier to clean. just an opinion but i think they are worth the extra money. if your spending the money for rare breed eggs, you should have a good incubator. ive seen a few people loose hundreds of dollars on cheap incubators.

im not sure of the size of your flock, but i use sportsman cabinet incubators now. i love them, but they can be a little large for a small flock owner. if you shop around you can find these used for about $350.00.
 

Whoops

Songster
6 Years
Aug 18, 2013
768
70
118
Albuquerque, NM
Thanks for the reply! My flock is a tiny back yard flock in the city, so I can't see incubating more than 24 eggs at once. I am thinking more in terms of something small I could use to incubate replacement hens. But, it has to big enough to account for the low hatch rate in shipped eggs, and the fact that 50% will be roos. I believe I can sell off the extra chicks at the local swap, but I hate the idea of shipping live chicks. Plus, once I get my flock going, I will want to hatch my own eggs for replacement hens.
 

loveourbirds

Songster
6 Years
Mar 27, 2013
2,857
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waverly ohio
shipping chicks gets into a whole other mess - laws vary from state to state. We do ship chicks and eggs, to be legal we have to be a member of NPIP. its not that expensive, but can be a lot of paperwork. within the state you can usually sell legally on craigslist. that will keep an incubator busy LOL.
 

yinepu

Crowing
8 Years
Jun 16, 2011
7,629
295
278
Texas where we don't feed the Trolls...
you can fumigate them, but after a certain point (a few months of constant use) its usually not worth it. hovabator does have a plastic liner that helps a little- im not sure if it comes with them or is an option.

the next step up is a brisnea, i personally have never owned one; but they come highly recommended by users on here. the plastic would be easier to clean. just an opinion but i think they are worth the extra money. if your spending the money for rare breed eggs, you should have a good incubator. ive seen a few people loose hundreds of dollars on cheap incubators.

im not sure of the size of your flock, but i use sportsman cabinet incubators now. i love them, but they can be a little large for a small flock owner. if you shop around you can find these used for about $350.00.

Lol.. i hate Brinsea incubators with a passion.. they are unreliable and designed completely wrong.. after having way too many of the expensive beasts they all ended up at the dump .. I had everything from bad thermostats to fan issues... never again!

I'll stick with homemade coolerbators from now on... I can easily fit 5 dozen eggs on one level (many more if I stack) and can keep replacement parts on hand without having to deal with "customer service"... plus the coolerbators are a lot less expensive and out perform a Brinsea any day!
 

yinepu

Crowing
8 Years
Jun 16, 2011
7,629
295
278
Texas where we don't feed the Trolls...
Thanks for the reply! My flock is a tiny back yard flock in the city, so I can't see incubating more than 24 eggs at once. I am thinking more in terms of something small I could use to incubate replacement hens. But, it has to big enough to account for the low hatch rate in shipped eggs, and the fact that 50% will be roos. I believe I can sell off the extra chicks at the local swap, but I hate the idea of shipping live chicks. Plus, once I get my flock going, I will want to hatch my own eggs for replacement hens.

Coolerbator or other homemade incubator.. replacement parts can be kept on hand.. you can build to meet your needs for size for shipped eggs and most (if designed properly) can be easily cleaned and sterilized...
Also if you insist on a turner.. you can buy an inexpensive turner to fit your homemade bator.. just keep the turner size in mind when doing the incubator build..
 

loveourbirds

Songster
6 Years
Mar 27, 2013
2,857
325
198
waverly ohio
Quote:
for emus i can understand you not liking brisnea. a certain amount of air flow is needed, and emu eggs wouldnt allow it in a brisnea.

other than thermometer issues (never trust a thermometer that comes with the incubator), i havent seen any complaints. i guess there was one stripped turner gear caused by a curious kid.

small coolerbaters do ok for small groups of chickens, but i wouldnt trust stacking eggs in them (again lack of airflow). but if your going to build one, dont rely on one light bulb for heat; install a second either in parallel or a seperate circuit. i have seen people use replacement heater elements for incubators, they dont blow as often as lightbulbs. get a good thermostat, and mount it properly; dont trust $20 each eggs to a water heater thermostat. most people like electronic thermostats, i myself prefer wafer thermostats in series. all my incubators hold temp well and the second thermostat is a safety feature.

i do encourage people to build incubators, but most people are afraid to try it.
 

yinepu

Crowing
8 Years
Jun 16, 2011
7,629
295
278
Texas where we don't feed the Trolls...
Quote:
for emus i can understand you not liking brisnea. a certain amount of air flow is needed, and emu eggs wouldnt allow it in a brisnea.

other than thermometer issues (never trust a thermometer that comes with the incubator), i havent seen any complaints. i guess there was one stripped turner gear caused by a curious kid.

small coolerbaters do ok for small groups of chickens, but i wouldnt trust stacking eggs in them (again lack of airflow). but if your going to build one, dont rely on one light bulb for heat; install a second either in parallel or a seperate circuit. i have seen people use replacement heater elements for incubators, they dont blow as often as lightbulbs. get a good thermostat, and mount it properly; dont trust $20 each eggs to a water heater thermostat. most people like electronic thermostats, i myself prefer wafer thermostats in series. all my incubators hold temp well and the second thermostat is a safety feature.

i do encourage people to build incubators, but most people are afraid to try it.

I never mentioned emu eggs in the Brinseas in this thread.. I was referring to chicken eggs.. and if you were referring to my emu hatch info you will see that my preferred incubator for them (before we built the coolerbators) happened to be a modified LG since a "normal" LG doesn't do the job very well on it's own.. when I do hatch out more emus next winter it will be in coolerbators!
Besides.. the Brinsea pictured in one of my articles had a bad thermostat and the temp spiked (on a chicken egg hatch BTW) to over 120F and kept on rising (and there are no children here to mess with my incubators)... I didn't have an issue with it for the emu eggs other than no head space for them at hatch.. which is why the emu eggs in it were relocated to the modified LG at hatch.. I was also using a Reptipro which did a much better job than the Brinseas did .. however it isn't big enough for the large number of eggs we hatch out every month.. so we are currently using it for other purposes...

But on to the Brinsea issues..

If you search on here you will find several threads where people had Brinseas suddenly shoot up in temp (I had more than one do it) due to bad thermostats.. NOT thermometers. Since I owned a large number of Brinseas I got more "lemons" than the average person who may get lucky with one or two...

As for stacking eggs in a coolerbator.. well I have been doing it ever since my husband and I built our first one earlier this year.. IF you know how to stack eggs there is NO issue with stacking them in a properly designed coolerbator... since you have never been here and seen mine in action.. don't knock it when I know for certain it works VERY well! (I have also stacked eggs in the Reptipro with 0 issues but I can't get as many in one at a time as I can with a coolerbator)
As to the heating and thermostats.. we have one coolerbator with wafer thermostat and the others have digital... we also use more than one heat source per incubator.. so as I said.. in a PROPERLY designed coolerbator there is NO issue with hatching out large numbers of eggs or with stacking..
It's all in knowing what you are doing and since I have been hatching out large numbers of eggs year round, every year for over 50 years.. I think I have a bit of a clue as to how to design a good incubator that does the job that I need it to do (and that works a heck of a lot better than a pos Brinsea)..
 

loveourbirds

Songster
6 Years
Mar 27, 2013
2,857
325
198
waverly ohio
we have really gotten off topic here.

to the OP - yes you can sterilize styrofoam and i will get you a recipe for fumigation. just dont expect a styrofoam incubator to last more than a few months with constant use. any incubator is going to fault out at some point, if you are interested in making your own, i have several designs i can share. you may also want to check out this thread: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...home-made-incubators-whether-they-work-or-not

keep in mind whether you build or buy, as a rule of thumb you get what you pay for. be cautious of "disposable" electronics, and cheap incubators. if you buy a whole incubator, make sure it is UL listed. it is a good idea to keep extra parts for your incubator - i have 3 sportsmans, and i keep an extra set of thermostat switches, a fan motor, a turning mechanism, and a heating element. your incubator is never going to fail on monday morning. it always seems to happen at 10 PM on friday of a holiday weekend. i might be a bit over prepared, but i hatch around 1000 chicks a week for myself, and i hatch for other people. instead of using dual heat sources as mentioned earlier (which is a good idea) we keep backup generators. a power outage for a couple of hours usually wont affect your hatch much - but overnight may cause alot of deformed feet or other problems.

if your just thinking of hatching 20 or so eggs a month, a LG or hovabator will probably do just fine for you. i didnt mention earlier, i have heard of people sealing the inside of them with either a watered down latex caulking or paint - i dont know if this is a good idea or not, but i guess its worth mentioning. when i was getting started we used styrofoam incubators, when the bacterial buildup got to bad, i would build new wooden boxes for them. i did switch the electronic thermostats out for dual wafer thermostats. the dual wafers usually wont spike on temperature, its also a safety to keep them from catching fire.
 

loveourbirds

Songster
6 Years
Mar 27, 2013
2,857
325
198
waverly ohio
i had to look this up, i never fumigate. with my incubators (wood sides) i clean with bleach and rinse, then ammonia and rinse, then ACV and rinse. all are good antibacterials, but there is some question on bleach killing cocci, rather than kill 400 eggs i like to play it safe.


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this needs to be done outside

Empty incubators and hatchers may be fumigated using 70ml formalin plus 35g potassium permanganate per cubic foot of incubator (a styro bator is about 1 cu foot) suggested for incubators in which an egg has exploded, or in which disease has been causing problems.
  • Close incubator vents
  • Potassium permanganate powder is placed in an earthenware, porcelain or heat-tempered glass container inside the space to be fumigated elevated on another upside down bowl
  • Add formalin solution.
  • Shut lid immediately.
  • Leave for thirty minutes.
  • Remove container, leaving lid open for a few minutes to air out.

it will clean in fans and places bleach cant reach

in future hatches place copper pennies or copper sulphate in the water reserves as an anti bacterial
 

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