Dry or Wet Incubation

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by LaurynRose, May 5, 2016.

  1. LaurynRose

    LaurynRose Out Of The Brooder

    May 30, 2015
    I am in 4h and for my experiment I am building an incubator. I was wondering if you use the dry method or wet method and why. Also, could you explain how you incubate? Like your humidity range and temperature range? Right now I am testing my incubator with out eggs and it stays at about 101 degrees fare height with 60% humidity. I have a lot of water in it right now though. Thank you so much for any feedback[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Last edited: May 5, 2016
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    What are you using for a thermometer to measure temp? Did you install a large fan or is this a still air incubator? The temp to incubate and where you measure temp are different for each type of incubator- still air vs. forced air.

    I only trust medical thermometers. For the price point of $6 at Walmart you'll have an incredibly accurate device and likely already have a oral thermometer in your medicine cabinet. Use that to set temp and calibrate any device.

    Salt test: Unless you calibrated your hygrometer the numbers mean little excepting the fact that it tells you RH is going up or down and by how much. It is suspect to telling your actual RH.

    Fill milk cap with salt and add drops of water until saturated then put in a sealed container with hygrometer. I like Ziploc quart bags. In at least 4 hours and 6 is better note the reading of the hygrometer. Subtract that from 75 for your calibration number. Write the number on masking tape and stick to incubator as a reminder. Ex: your reading is 87%. 75-87= -12. You'll always subtract 12 from readings for true RH.

    I like a drier incubating. If not doing a staggered hatch I'll run 30% RH until early day 19 then up humidity to 70-75%. Keeping humidity over 70% for hatching is key to not having late hatching chicks get stuck to shell. When doing staggered hatches I run completely dry as there will be a 3 to 4 day period where I'm over 70% RH as an older setting of eggs is hatching. There is no moisture loss in the incubating eggs with RH that high so compensate by running dry which currently is about 19% RH in my incubator.

    Reasoning for drier incubation. It's all about the moisture loss of egg. The egg needs to lose a certain percentage of weight for best hatch results. This means evaporating water from inside it. The drier you incubate the more moisture loss. You can adjust the RH in incubator if your losing too much or too little. It's not exacting and should not be fret on or fidgeted with. Nice easy adjustments based on a candling of 7 or 10 days. Say you run dry and then candle at day 10. All eggs wont be exacting to one another but you deem the air cells are too large and want to slow down the moisture loss. Bump the RH up to near 40% until day 18. If you start at 30% RH like I typically do and check day 7-10 you'll likely find they are spot on but on the off chance they are losing moisture too slowly you'd run dry for few days and check day 14 or 15 and decide if you will stay dry or go back to 30% until day 18 or 19.

    Model is not to be exacting rather a visual aid to determine proper moisture loss by days:

  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Turning the eggs is of second importance to temperature. Forgot to mention turning. If your manually turning a good idea is to mark an X and O on opposite sides of egg so you keep sane seeing you've turned all of them. Three times min turning a day is good. More is better. I've done two a day and hatches do suffer. Missing a few turns isn't critical but twice a day all days is not quite enough. Also you don't need to turn to day 18. These way points in incubating are set up to make things simple. Turn to day 18 and up humidity is simple. In reality turning is only needed to day 14. I've tested this and it's true. Upping humidity day 18 is only helpful if your hatching bantam that will start to pip soon. Up humidity before piping starts is what your really doing.

    If you don't have an auto turner it's no worry. I did many a manual turning incubations. Trust me, it gets old. You'll get lackadaisical and hatches will start to suffer. Any turning unit will do. Little Giant auto turners are readily had at local supply stores and relatively inexpensive. Wait until summer and they may go on sale. Got mine on sale at a TSC. Manually turning when you wake up and again after work and again before bed is all well and good. Pumping with excitement with first hatches and you easily find time to turn them more than that. It fades, trust me. No idea how many times a day an auto tilts back and forth. It's a lot and at a very slow rate. First 100% hatch was when using an auto turner. Was near 90% rates then over few years they plummeted. Got the turner and wham! Easy and high hatch rates.
  4. walkswithdog

    walkswithdog Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 17, 2008
    DC Region
    I have been hatching since 2007, in commercial foam incubators, handmade foam incubators, a wooden leahy, handmade mini fridge incubators, and a Brinsea. I've done it in TN on my deck, in Virginia in the house, in MD in the house. Microclimates affect the need for humidity or not. In general I have in 9 years, had better hatches when I don't bother with humidity at all. Get your temps right, turn the eggs and go for it, is my general rule. To get temps right I use a reptile thermostat from Big Apple Herp, online. Their Reptitherm is incredibly reliable and stable in even damp and wet environments and you can plug up to three elements into it, so you wan tweak your incubator with any heat source or sources you choose. I like heat mats and or heat tape, over lightbulbs. But that's just me, I hate the way they over crowd the space in a homemade incubator. I am a clutz, the less I can bump into the better.

    My next build will be wood, the Leahy built in the early 1900's vastly outperformed every commercial incubator I have ever used. So I'll be partially replicating it for my use here. It had six trays though. Lord I don't need that kind of temptation so I'm going to build this one for 12-24. The mini Brinsea is accurate but it's so dang small, I swear larger chicks that hatch think they're still stuck in the egg. Lots of struggling and freaking out that I haven't seen in roomier incubators with better footing. Plastic flooring sucks. Wire or screen works out better and I'm more sure of proper air flow if I'm using a fan. I really don't even care about humidity unless there is frank build up on the bator. And in a properly vented incubator that doesn't happen. Since they hate the Brinea, I set up the brooder to dry chicks instead. So I'm snatching them after they've rested post hatch.

    The brooder has both a heat mat and a reptile ceramic bulb in one corner. They dry there then they can move out to cooler regions. I stagger hatch. Yes, you'll notice I don't follow all the rules. The rules are for learning how to get to good production but they are actually just good guidelines. Follow the rules with expensive eggs and once you have free eggs, break some rules and see where the boundaries actually are. I have stagger hatched since my second year hatching and I rarely loose a chick or egg.

    Chickens have a brain smaller than a walnut. They don't actually always do it right. In fact stupid and bad broodies is why I had to buy my first incubator. To save abandoned and damaged eggs, eggs in mud and ice water, eggs left when they didn't hatch with the rest of the clutch. They aren't brain surgeons. So I learned that a lot can be salvaged, and that perfection isn't necessary to still get it done. Heck, do everything, everything right and sometimes it will still go bad. Okay, especially with shipped eggs. Incubation is actually an ART, not just a science and not just a coloring book where you stay in the lines.

    If you stick with the science and the coloring book you will get good results once you get a feel for things like your own microclimate, how often you open the incubator, whether when following the rules you always get stuck, or too wet chicks, malpositions or deformities. Many people slowly evolve to art and don't even notice that they've tweaked little things, How/if they add water, what materials they use in the incubator, sponges or paper towels, or cotton or glass, or a thousand little things they just do. Some set rigid rules and never vary. But that is in and of itself a choice and an art. Cubist versus Impressionist. Who's right? No right.

    If you get good results, you are in the Zone and that's the only goal here. This is long winded but incubator building, and hatching are both fun and aggravating, easy and challenging by turns. Hunt around for cheap or free eggs, someone locally will have them. And go at it like you have canvas and paints and an idea of the result you want. Follow the rules but look for places where you make it specific to you and your region, your habits, your experience. Too much humidity built up says not enough ventilation, chicks chronically stuck in egg membranes who can't do more than pip and not shift, that's too dry. Bacteria are a sign of too much humidity often as much as the incubator needs cleaning. I never once had a bacteria problem in the wooden Leahy, I think that meant something. So my next one is going to be wood. Sportsman sells thermostats and fans they use in their incubators as replacement parts. Mini Fridges that have stopped working to cool, still have insulation, lights and usually a good working fan or two. Getting them ventilated properly is the challenge. Heat mats for reptiles, heat tape for reptiles, and reptile thermostats are generally much more reliable and water tight than garden thermometers. And heat mats and heat tape are flat aspect heating elements.

    You can do it. You can learn it. You can build it. Remember to make notes so you can compare hatches, eventually they all blur together. Of course that is how this Mad Hatcher got started and I remain addicted to this day. My name is Cher and I'm a hatch-a - holic. Won't you join me in my happy insanity?
    1 person likes this.
  5. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

    Oct 11, 2014
    Gouverneur, NY

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