DIY Hatcher Disaster! Please help troubleshoot

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by WestCoast Farm, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. WestCoast Farm

    WestCoast Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 17, 2011
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    Homemade hatcher disaster! Please help troubleshoot.

    Home made cabinet with airholes & IncuKit XL
    Temp and humidity were perfect. 99.5/65-70%

    66 eggs went in lockdown yesterday (alive & well)

    Today- day 20: 3 pips this morning. Came home to find them dead after pipping. No further sounds or activity coming from the rest of the eggs. Normally they'd be well into hatching, with lots of pips.

    My suspicion is that since the hatcher was recessed into a cabinet, there was inadequate ventilation....? Another clue things were amiss was water was dripping down the door.

    Shelves are solid but do have gaps front and back for air to move through. Painted with latex paint.

    I've since pulled it forward out of the cabinet so the vent holes are exposed to room air. I think it's too late and they're all dead though.

    Ugh.... why did we mess with a perfect system? They were hatching great in the sportsman [​IMG]

    Any thoughts appreciated.[​IMG]
     
  2. gpop1

    gpop1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We can only go by the information you have provided so this is my thoughts as I read your post



    Home made cabinet with airholes

    me......Incubator was not air tight


    I've since pulled it forward out of the cabinet so the vent holes are exposed to room air. I think it's too late and they're all dead though.

    me..........ventilation may have been restricted but not completely air tight


    Temp and humidity were perfect. 99.5/65-70%

    Another clue things were amiss was water was dripping down the door.

    me.........ok that's odd as you would require 85 plus to get water dripping down the door unless the room was cold.


    went in lockdown yesterday

    me........That means a 100% air exchange was done less than 24 hours ago on a large incubator holding only 66 eggs with 4 pips (door had been opened)


    Painted with latex paint.

    me..........hmmmm I wonder what paint contains


    Ok so im thinking that your humidity sensor doesn't seem accurate but the chicks piped so they didn't drown. it wasn't until they breathed air from outside the shell that something happened over a period of time that killed the chicks. You didn't say if the eggs were incubated in the same unit or if this is just being used as a hatcher. I use a home built wine cooler incubator and hatcher and they are close to air tight. I have never had a problem with low oxygen so far. Normally I only hatch 20-30 eggs at a time so I have a lower oxygen demand than what a large incubator could have running 100's of eggs. You had 66 eggs with 4 piped which shouldn't have been a huge oxygen demand yet plus you had at least some ventilation even if it was restricted.

    I would be interested in finding out what the paint company lists in there ingredients. Modern latex has chemicals designed to avoid mold, staining, uv protection, brush strokes etc. With out further research its possible that the paint contains Teflon and voc's. The voc's should have flashed off soon after warming the incubator but Teflon or another chemical could still be present.
    With poor ventilation its possible that there is a build up of toxins . As the egg shell acts as a barrier/filter you would expect the problem to really surface when the chick starts to breath air from outside the shell.

    Another thought would be
    A large hot spot that was not detected during testing as better ventilation caused enough air movement to balance out the heat. The hot spot would need to be over 106 which would make sense if you only lost chicks in one area of the hatcher.

    Like I said this is just reading what you wrote and guessing at the problem so I may be totally wrong.
     
  3. WestCoast Farm

    WestCoast Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for your thoughts. I too had wondered about the paint fumes.

    To clarify, eggs were incubated in a Sportsman cabinet incubator that I've been also hatching in successfully. (I wanted a dedicated hatcher unit).

    The hatching room was 18-20 degrees.

    No, hatcher was not air tight, but in hindsight air flow was restricted.

    More info:

    After I posted (day 20) I went down and candled. Then autopsied, as ALL were dead. It appeared they all died on day 19, shortly after going into the hatcher (Alive and well) that evening around 7pm.

    What I observed was, many had pipped the internal membrane and some were about to. So the three that actually pipped holes through the shell and died, were the three champs that made it the furthest. The rest were already dead.

    Mods we are making now:

    Cutting out solid shelves and replacing with hardware cloth. Making additional vent holes in top and bottom of the front door.

    I'm still questioning the paint and how all 65 were killed so quickly and mostly uniformly on day 19, with the exception of the 3 pipped then died early in the morning of day 20.
     
  4. gpop1

    gpop1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    sorry for the loss but sometimes things happen on a test run. I built a hatcher and decided to add ceramic tiles to the base which could be removed after hatch and cleaned. I ended up cooking the whole batch so I know the disappointment involved. A lot of us have discovered problems that only show after they have been loaded with eggs and the incubator had been located where we planned on using it.

    The speed at which most of the eggs failed really points to something other than low oxygen. The fastest way to kill a egg is normally high temp above 106-107. We can only guess that toxic shock could also be responsible. With out risking another batch run in the same design but with the paint removed then we may never know.

    Good to know that you have a plan going forward and hopefully the problem will never resurface.
     
  5. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    1. Tell me about the fan---location, Location of heat?
    2. Info on the vent holes/where and how big?
    3. Did you test the thermometer and humidity meter with a known "good" one?
    4. Where/how is your humidity controlled in this?
    5. Do your shelves go all the way to the back---looks like they are almost touching the door/close?
    6. Did you do a temp test on all 3 shelves with the same thermometer before setting?
    7. How long did you allow the latex paint to cure before setting?
    8. Did it smell like fresh paint/fumes inside when you set it?

    9. If you are only using the incu-kit XL you probably got a lot of air movement problems?
    10. What heat wattage is the Incu-kit?

    I built my hatcher and painted it with Exterior latex---It dried a few days before I put it together, then I let it run about 3 days--then I set it. I hatch right at 100% every hatch---some times 98 or 99%---over 6000 chicks hatched in it in one year.

    I can tell you this without a doubt, something serious went wrong for all to die like this. Sounds like the heat is off being they pipped early day 20, But that alone should not have done this.

    11. Back to the start-up did you let the hatcher run empty a few days before setting to allow the paint to dry/cure/etc? This is enough questions for this post but I got several more to ask if you do not provide that info in your next post--------I sure hate this happened!!
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
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  6. WestCoast Farm

    WestCoast Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 17, 2011
    Duncan, BC
    The fan- we have TWO InkuKit XL heater/fan combo units that were mounted at the top. (One alone wasn't bringing unit up to temp. Two was working perfectly)

    Thermometer- temp tested with two other ones besides what the InkuKit controller said.
    Hygrometer - had two of them telling me the same.

    Did not temp test all three shelves.

    Painting was done the week before. High gloss latex paint. Unit left to dry in a heated room. Only run at temp a few hours prior to setting.

    Shelves have a 1" gap at front and back. (Now we've cut out the centres and installing hardware cloth).

    Venting holes- there were 2 of them, about the size of a quarter on the sides. In retrospect it seems utterly stupid we then pushed the hatcher into the big shelving unit. It would have restricted air flow dramatically.

    We've since added 2 vent holes top and bottom to the front door. Thinking of moving one fan/heater to the lower wall and keeping the other higher up.

    I agree- catastrophic loss almost like they were gassed. I was thinking paint fume/bad venting combo.

    When I say internally pipped I mean as would be normal for day 19, when they poke into the air cel inside. That's the stage most of them died at. The only 3 who externally pipped (and succumbed soon after) did that on day 20. I found out later they made it the farthest. All others died within hours of being put in the hatcher [​IMG]

    Oh I'm beyond sick about it.... [​IMG] This will haunt me forever.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
  7. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    To me the incu-kits is not ideal for a cabinet because of a lack of good air flow through the shelves----I just do not see them doing that alone. If you were to add extra fans at the back gap drawing air from the lower part and blowing it across the top shelf---that would help a lot using the incu-kit's. I would have chosen what you have in the GQF set-up. but what you got can be used.

    Did you use any silicon or glue when you put this together?

    My question was did you use a known, working thermometer(out of your GQF if it appeared to be accurate) to test this hatcher temp? The reason I ask it the built-in thermometers on the incu-kits can be off 1 or 3 degree's. My Incustat was off---had to calibrate it.

    Your vent holes need to be-- say 1--1" in the top and one on the back/sides to get a good air movement in my opinion----the way you are set-up now. Remember heat rises and a little will go out the top hole and replacement air will come in the bottom. If you got them in the door, you will probably not get as good of a air exchange. Now if you were to modify your set-up with extra fans---a different location might work better---according to how you modify it.

    You did not mention the water/humidity set-up?
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
  8. WestCoast Farm

    WestCoast Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Some minimal silicone sealant and wood glue was used. Then painted over 4-5 times.

    No, I will say I can't be sure the thermometer was "good" enough to say the temperature was accurate. Like you say, maybe it was off. Come to think of it I felt it seemed warmer than what they read.

    Water/humidity- 2 3" pans of water sat on the top shelf below the 2 IncuKit fan/heater combos.

    The solid shelves have been cut out and hardware mesh inserted.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
  9. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    I would not have used the silicone, but---I can not say that would have done it. I would lean more towards that than the paint.

    Can you remove the top of the hatcher or is it glued down tight?

    While the hatcher is empty----can you get it up to temp----stick your head in the door quick and see if you smell any of the silicone fumes or the paint?

    Also can you test the temp on the shelves/bottom, with the SAME thermometer by moving it to the center of each location and giving it a hour or so to stabilize?

    One other thing is what type wood/plywood did you use to build this----did it give off any fumes before painting it? Was it treated?
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
  10. WestCoast Farm

    WestCoast Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 17, 2011
    Duncan, BC
    Top of hatcher is glued down tight and can't be removed.

    3/4" untreated plywood good 1 side from Home Depot was used. 1 piece of untreated exterior sheathing was also used. No fumes ever noted before paining. "Silicone" used was actually a latex based sealant, I am told.

    I will do those tests you mentioned and get back to you. But not right now!! We have a foot of snow and a power outage currently. Generator running to keep GQF incubator going.

    One other ominous clue I forgot to mention: when I checked hatcher early on day 20 and saw 3 pipped, the plexiglass door was completely covered in condensation, with water dripping out the door and onto the floor. I cleaned it up. Humidity was reading around 80%.

    When I got home from work at 5pm I discovered even more water had dripped down the front door, pooling all over the floor. Humidity read 65% and water pans were empty, sponges damp.

    That's when I found the 3 pipped eggs dead and knew I had a serious disaster on my hands.

    Hatching room was warm 18-20 degrees.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017

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