1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

First time really nervous!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Oftwife03, Dec 28, 2016.

  1. Oftwife03

    Oftwife03 Out Of The Brooder

    48
    3
    26
    Jun 26, 2016
    So beginning of this year my husband and I started our chicken journey. He had chickens when he was growing up. I grew up in Houston Tx and never had the chance to have them but have always wanted them mainly for eggs. Never did I expect to fall in love and enjoy having them so much. Right now I have what I have been told is a Silver Laced Wyandotte rooster. He was given to my by an amazing friend because the rooster I got with my original 10 chicks was very very aggressive. He had to be culled. She also gave me two beautiful easter eggers. Most of my others I believe are all sex links. At least that is what the feed store said lol. I had NO idea all the different breeds and everything till I got mine. I am in love lol. Well my amazing mother in law listens when we talk it seems and I mentioned to her I wanted to get an incubator in the next few months cause I wanted to hatch and for Christmas she got me a 48 egg incubator!! I can't wait to try it but I am nervous. I have spent the last few days reading everything I can and researching it to death. I want to make sure I do this right! Plus I really want to be able to pay my friend back by giving her a few easter egger babies!! I would love any advice I could get. This weekend I am getting another Thermometer to put inside to make sure I have a second one. I would love suggestions on the best one to get. Just to let ya'll know we don't have a lot of stores around here so it will most likely have to come from Walmart. How many days should I run it before to test it and whats the best way. Should I move the thermometer around? What should I clean it with? I was thinking about just doing a small hatch first so I am not overwhelmed. Do I wash the eggs before I put them in there? If my rooster is a Wyandotte will the easter egger babies lay colored eggs too? Is there anything special I will need after the babies are hatched besides of course food water and the brooder? Sorry this is so long I just want to make sure I have all my ducks in a row before I do this lol. I am so glad I found this page. It has been one of the best things I have found!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    19,947
    3,105
    476
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    First, go to the Learning Center at the top of this page and start reading. There is a lot of good information up there.

    Is your incubator a forced air or still (thermal) air? If it has a fan the air should be mixed enough that the temperature is the same throughout. If it does not have a fan the temperature inside will vary depending on elevation because warm air rises. That is an important consideration in where you put thermometers and even the readings. In general you want a reading around 99.5 F for a forced air taken about anywhere or a reading of 101.5 F taken at the top of the eggs in a still air.

    I don’t have any specific recommendation for which thermometer to buy, online may be better than Walmart. Whether your incubator is a forced air or still air could influence your selection too. What you want in a thermometer is one that reads to the tenth of a degree. You don’t have to hit the 99.5 or 101.5 exactly, but you want to be reasonably close.

    Never trust any thermometer that has not been calibrated, especially the one that comes with the incubator. The next time you are at Walmart, look at the thermometers that you typically hang outside to check the temperature. They are all on the same shelf in a climate controlled room, you’d think they all read the same. I’ve seen as much as 9 degrees difference from the highest to the lowest readings. I’ll include some links on how to calibrate your thermometer and hygrometer. I’m more comfortable with the medical thermometer method myself since you are working in that range.

    Calibrate a Thermometer
    http://www.allfoodbusiness.com/calibrating_thermometers.php

    Rebel’s Thermometer Calibration
    http://cmfarm.us/ThermometerCalibration.html

    Rebel’s Hygrometer Calibration
    http://cmfarm.us/HygrometerCalibration.html

    The first time you use it you probably don’t even need to clean it. If you do, soap and water should be fine. After I use mine I wash the insides well with dishwashing soap and water, then bleach it with a weak bleach solution. It’s very important after you use it to sanitize it. You do not want any bacteria in there.

    It’s generally recommended to not try to hatch especially valuable eggs the first time. There is some trial and error involved. Not all incubators are the same. Even the professionals that might have 120,000 eggs in one incubator have to tweak the settings if they move an incubator across the room. That’s intended to stop people from getting very special expensive eggs from a breeder for the first incubation. I’ll warn you though, any eggs you put in there will become pretty precious to you. That just happens once you start incubating eggs.

    I’ll mention this now. What are you going to do with the chicks you hatch? A lot of them will be male. It’s a lot of fun to hatch eggs, it really is. But you need a plan for all those chicks before you set eggs.

    The last thing a hen does just before she lays an egg is to coat it with a fast-drying liquid called “bloom” or “cuticle”. This is a layer that works really well to keep bacteria out of the developing egg. If you wash the eggs or sandpaper them to clean them, you remove this protective coating. You do not want to wash them to remove this protective coating. You also do not want to set “dirty” eggs. A light smudge of mud or poop isn’t horrible, but the dirtier they are the more likely that bloom has been compromised and you will have serious problems. Only set unwashed clean eggs.

    Are your EE’s laying colored eggs, blue or green? If they are colored there is at least a 50-50 chance any pullets hatched with that rooter will lay colored eggs. If they are not laying colored eggs, there is absolutely no chance the pullets will lay colored eggs. I’ll avoid the long genetics explanation.

    I’ll give you one last group of links. In my opinion the A&M article goes way overboard in many things but it still gives you the basics. It shoots for the ideal. Some things are important to get right, like pointy side down during storage and incubating. But one of the recommendations is to store them at 55 degrees F. I don’t have any place that temperature, the best I can do is room temperature so that is what I do. I also do not individually wrap eggs for storage to reduce moisture loss. I store mine in the turner pointy side down at room temperature so they regularly get turned and do not store them more than a week to reduce moisture loss, and I normally still get good hatches. I know it’s hard but if you do the best you reasonably can without obsessing over getting it exactly precise you will probably do really well.

    The last two are for after your hatch. If you don’t open the unhatched eggs (if you have any) you really don’t know how to tweak your incubator to get better hatches. As you can see there are a lot of things that can affect the hatch. Even when you open the eggs it’s not always clear exactly what the problem was but at least you have something to go by.

    Texas A&M Incubation site
    http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/...e-Cartwright-Incubating-and-hatching-eggs.pdf

    Mississippi State Incubation Troubleshooting
    http://extension.msstate.edu/content/trouble-shooting-failures-egg-incubation

    Illinois Incubation troubleshooting
    http://urbanext.illinois.edu/eggs/res24-00.html

    The good thing is that the eggs are really pretty tough. Some hens lay eggs outside in hidden nests in all kinds of weather with some of the eggs laid two weeks or more before incubation begins. Most of those eggs hatch. All this information points you toward the ideal, but you don’t always have to be that precise to still get good hatches. Just do the best you reasonably can.

    Good luck!
     
  3. AmericanMom

    AmericanMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,817
    241
    188
    Aug 10, 2013
    Oregon
    First, let me congratulate you on a wonderful gift! Be careful tho, hatching is addictive lol..
    What brand incubator do you have? I have two Hovabator 1602n Both have fans and as long as the ambient room temperature is stable they run perfectly. I run my incubator for at least 24 hours to ensure it is running and holding the correct temperature. neither of my incubators have a built in thermometer so I purchased the ones from Walmart, never have had an issue and I have hatched Chickens Turkeys and Geese in the bators. When you have your incubator running and holding the temp and you add the eggs step away, don't adjust the temp as it might take up to 24 hours for the incubator to return to the needed temperature (99.5 with a fan) I don't not (and I might get in trouble here) keep track of my humidity for the first 18 days, I practice dry incubation and have found when I just leave it alone my hatch rates greatly improved. I have ONE thermometer, some like to add a couple but I have found that all it does for me is frustrate and make me nervous if they aren't in sinc, my hatch rates are in the high 90's so I find it not an issue for me and don't move it around.
    Do not wash the eggs! I clean nesting boxes each morning as I have a few hens that like to sleep in the boxes so most of the time my eggs are pretty clean, washing the eggs removes the protective bloom and could doom your hatch. Just don't incubate really dirty eggs. a bit of dirt or poo wont hurt them tho.
    There is no way to tell what colored eggs an EE will lay, that's part of the fun in hatching, some will lay brown some will lay blue or green and some might even lay a more pinkish egg.
     
  4. Oftwife03

    Oftwife03 Out Of The Brooder

    48
    3
    26
    Jun 26, 2016


    Thank you so much for all the info. I have read everything on here even been reading all the post here for the last few days. I am very much so a researcher lol. I like to know what I am getting in to before I do it. My incubator is a forced air. It has a fan in it. I have a bunch of friends that are wanting the babies and what we don't get rid of we will probably cull to eat. We have already had to cull 2 since we started. One thanks to Atwoods for giving us a Cornish cross instead of a layer and the other because he was a very aggressive rooster. Both my easter eggers are laying bluish colored eggs. I am really excited about this. My husband is getting more on board with my crazy chicken lady behavior everyday. He said he won't fuss as long as I am not putting diapers on them and letting them run the house. lol
     
  5. Oftwife03

    Oftwife03 Out Of The Brooder

    48
    3
    26
    Jun 26, 2016
    I am not sure what brand it is. I will post a pic. I am so excited. I can't wait to get to watch these babies grow. I hope I can do well my first hatch. I know my kids are very excited too. I think this will be a wonderful life lesson for them.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. AmericanMom

    AmericanMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,817
    241
    188
    Aug 10, 2013
    Oregon
    I'm not sure on the brand, you want to find out what it is and then go from there.. Many here have used different brands and can give you the pro's and con's to your specific incubator, my first step into incubation was a lot like how you are doing, I read EVERYTHING.. just remember, what works for some may not work for others. I live in Oregon and how I incubate doesn't always work for my sister who has the same incubator but lives in Oklahoma :)
    .. It is so fun, my Grandsons love it when Nanny gets the bug and always plan to spend the night on the supposed hatch day so they can help transfer babies from the incubator to the brooder.. :)
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    19,947
    3,105
    476
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas

    Isn’t that the truth! That’s where trial and error comes in, try it and adjust if you need to. Most of the time you’ll get some chicks to hatch the first time you use it, often a lot of chicks to hatch. But the only way to find out is to try it.

    I don’t recognize that incubator either. You’d think they would be marked so it’s pretty easy to tell make and model, but it’s not always as easy as you think it should be. If it is new it should have come with instructions which can help you operate the controls. That might tell you which one it is.

    Humidity is one of those things that can vary a lot from one of us to another. I’m not going to go into the reasons for that but my suggestion is to pick some humidity and try to maintain it throughout the incubation. Then evaluate your hatch. If you are consistent though incubation, your results may tell you if you need to raise it, lower it, or leave it alone for the next hatch.
     
  8. AmericanMom

    AmericanMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,817
    241
    188
    Aug 10, 2013
    Oregon
    Completely agree with Ridgerunner here... Find a target and use it, adjust as needed for subsequent hatches.. My very first hatch I got 20+ to hatch and thought I knew it all.. had horrible hatch rates for the next 5 hatches with a few 0% hatches... Its all trial and error, just be prepared for the errors, they can be heartbreaking but needful to figure out your particular incubator. Once I figured it out I average about 97% now given the viability of the eggs and the health of the hens (that plays a vital part also)
     
  9. Oftwife03

    Oftwife03 Out Of The Brooder

    48
    3
    26
    Jun 26, 2016
    Thank y'all both so much. I think I will be starting my first batch this weekend. I am gonna get everything else I need ready today. I will probably run it today and tomorrow just to check temp and everything. I am so thankful I found this forum!! I can't wait to see what happens. I am excited and hopefull I can have a few hatch the first time. I know it says to do a small batch before I do a large one. No sure if I will be doing 48 any time soon lol. Even my husband is getting in to it. I know it is mainly him being supportive but I think he is excited to see if we can have babies. lol
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by