First time incubating

Discussion in 'Quail' started by WalkingNorth, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. WalkingNorth

    WalkingNorth Out Of The Brooder

    So my button quail eggs arrived yesterday and I'm having a go at incubating them!

    I'm using elcheapo farm innovators incubator that i picked up from ebay for $40, so I'm going in knowing that I can only try on this one.

    So, after reading online I hope I have everything covered, this is where I'm at.

    I'm working with a still air foam incubator, turning manually 3 times a day. It's bulky and awkward.

    Have 3 thermometers (overkill right?) one in the top, one on ground level, and one set at mid level (tops of the eggs) I'm currently reading 99.8 mid level and 101.5 on the floor. Not sure whether to temp for the floor or tops of eggs so I settled in between, any advice would be great :)

    Humidity is sitting about 60-70%, I think the ideal is 50 so i won't be topping water up yet. Around day 14 I should be misting I think right?

    Any suggestions or advice? I've had button babies before but mama was broody and raised all six of them solo with just a heat lamp on one end.
     
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  2. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like a good start. Congrats! :)

    A couple suggestions:

    Grab a couple terrycloth towels (or small blankets or other insulating fabric) and layer them over and around the incubator. The biggest problem with elcheapo incubators tends to be poor insulation, which leads to temp fluctuations that can cause losses early in incubation, sometimes total loss. Make sure you leave plenty of ventilation--don't cover your vent holes! You can lift the towels to look through the windows, just replace them when you're done.


    The second biggest problem I've seen crop up for beginners who otherwise have their act together (as it sounds like you do), is poor air cell development. Depending on your ambient humidity (i.e., in the environment where you live), altitude, and possibly other factors, the humidity inside your incubator may need to be lower than the general recommendation. I suggest starting with what you've got, and following these instructions:

    • Every 5 to 7 days, candle your eggs and check for air cell development. I quite literally use a pencil to trace the outline of the air cell. You want to see it gradually growing toward approximately 1/3 the total volume of the egg at hatch time (there's a visual somewhere... I'll see if I can dig it out).
    • Right before lockdown, candle again. If your air cells are between 1/4 and 1/3 the size of the egg, you'll be in great shape. If it's larger or smaller, you may still do fine, but make a note to run your humidity differently the next time. If the cells are too small, run humidity lower on your next batch. If too large, run it higher on your next batch (this is unusual unless you live in a super dry climate).

    The air cell is easy to track, because it shows up as a bright area at the large end of the egg. If you notice that it's developing too slowly by halfway or more through the process, you can try to speed it up by lowering the humidity and spritzing the eggs with water (due to the polarity of water molecules, spritzing with water actually causes greater evaporation from the eggs, thus mimicking the effect of lower humidity, which is the opposite of what seems intuitive). Likewise, if they are developing too fast, you can raise the humidity.

    Once you go into lockdown, however, you want a high humidity regardless of the size of your air cells. This is necessary for the membranes to stay moist while the chicks are trying to get out.

    Hope that helps. If it sounds too overwhelming to mess with right now, don't worry. It sounds like you're already doing all the basics right, and you'll probably be fine. Do add some insulation to your incubator, though. :)
     
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  3. WalkingNorth

    WalkingNorth Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks for the reply! It's comforting to know temp etc sounds about right, should I be more concerned with floor level or egg top level temp? I've heard there's some variance in the still air incubators...

    I was worried about humidity and going through the forum it seems like it's a very common concern :( I'm going to try candling on day 4 and see how it goes, unfortunately most of my batch are dark shelled but hopefully I can get an idea from a couple of the light ones.

    In regards to the heating, my elcheapo incubator is doing surprisingly well, it was 99.7 at bedtime and this morning at 101, seems like i have to be more worried about overheating. I saw very little fluctuation during the day, so maybe I lucked out lol
     
  4. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hopefully someone with still air experience can come on and help with where to measure--or you may want to consider sticking a small fan in the incubator to circulate the air. It makes a big difference. I think your temp needs to be higher in a still air... if you don't get more replies here, try starting a thread in the chickens/incubating & hatching forum, which gets more traffic, and they usually don't mind questions about other species--incubating is very similar across bird species.

    Anyway, a fluctuation from 99.7 to 101 is more fluctuation than I like to see. I know it sounds tiny, but to the eggs it's a big deal. See if you can get it to sit steady by adding insulation. :)
     
  5. WalkingNorth

    WalkingNorth Out Of The Brooder

    sounds like a plan then, will find a way to wrap the incubator. It only has a bout six straw sized air holes so i'm a little worried about flow. I think I'm too far in to try to add a fan, the eggs are shipped from alberta (about 10 hrs away) and I have no access to more if these fail without getting more shipped, so i'm hoping to get at least a pair from this batch (trying to be realistic being my first time incubating)
     
  6. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Six straw-sized holes is plenty. Their respiration rate is pretty low in the egg, so the don't need a ton of circulation.

    Sounds like you'll do fine. Good luck, and keep us posted!
     
  7. WalkingNorth

    WalkingNorth Out Of The Brooder

    thanks, i will for sure.

    it's nice to share the excitement, no one near me has ever heard of button quails lol
     
  8. WalkingNorth

    WalkingNorth Out Of The Brooder

    I swore I'd be hands off but... well....

    good news is I have a lovely looking air sac!

    These little button eggs are so dark though, very difficult to see into, but the good news on one is just great, even more excited now :D
     
  9. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Awesome! How exciting. :) I've got a broody silkie sitting on three silkie eggs. Candled them yesterday and all three are developing--whoopee! It's not quite the same as hatching in the house (way easier with higher hatch rates--silkies are amazing incubators--but SLIGHTLY less fun for me since I don't get to watch & stress over every detail, lol), but it's awesome fun anyway.

    So happy for you. And me. :p
     
  10. WalkingNorth

    WalkingNorth Out Of The Brooder

    Wow that's so exciting, when are your silkies due? I'm looking at a hatch around the 13th atm

    I think broody hens are just as much fun, a lot less stress though. I kept buttons years ago and never realized what a gem I had in my little brown hen. She took to nest on eight eggs and only lost one baby. The most precious thing I ever saw was coming home one day and not being able to find a single baby. I just about died! Upon closer inspection I realized that all seven were under her wings! All I could see was their little eyes peering out from her feathers. I was so new to buttons and didn't have access to the net at the time so I never realized how rare and special she was to raise those little boys
     

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