Freezing or Frying?


9 Years
May 2, 2010
Hi all,

I am about to venture into my first time incubating. Bought a Little Giant, with fan and turner (yes, I know, but the price was great!), and I've had it running for a day now, and it was holding pretty steady at 99.5. Last night we had a huge storm here in MO., and the outside temps cooled way off. This morning the incubator had dropped to 98. My questions are; when it comes to a forgiving range of temps, what would your safest temps be at both ends of the scale? How forgiving are the eggs to a drop or rise of one degree or better? Is it better to stay on the lower side, rather than frying them with higher temps? I can see right now I will be building a better incubator for myself in the near future! Thanks in advance.

Thank you, that was pretty much what I was thinking. So far, any flucuations in temps have been down, and only by a degree.
Mine fluctuated a little at first but once it was loaded with eggs I did not have as much fluctuation. I hatched a lot of eggs out of it and had pretty good luck! I wouldnt adjust the temp unless it changes and stays there for a while b/c the egg takes a while to get to that temp. When you do adjust, make a small adjustment and give it a couple three hours to adjust and level out.
Debbi --

I bought a Hovabator (pretty similar to Little Giant, I believe, both basically a modified foam cooler with a heating element and fan) back in the 1990's.

I was CONSTANTLY fighting with the dumb thing to regulate temperatures. As you noted, whenever the ambient temperature in the room changes, the incubator temp shifts.

I would find the dumb thing would cool off or spike by several degrees.

By some miracle, it generally DID work out ok, I got at least decent hatches overall, probably used it a total of 7 or 8 times.

What will really help is to keep the temperature in the area of the incubator as constant as possible. One way to do this is to buy or build a large box to act as a buffer, and set the whole incubator in it. You still need to leave it somewhat open for proper airflow and oxygenation, but it helps a lot. A big rubbermaid storage bin with a couple of fist-sized holes in the lid, one on each end, makes a good box to set the incubator in. You can make a separate hole in the side wall to thread the power cord through. Or you could buy some sheets of foamboard insulation at Home Depot or Lowe's, cut them to size, and just use duct tape to hold them together.

Also, try to keep the incubator in a small, interior room in your home without any open doors or windows. Even a closet would work. Or perhaps your basement -- someplace where temperatures don't change rapidly.

I gave up and spent the $$$ for a Brinsea Octogon 20 automatic, which is doing a much better job keeping things consistent.

However, I've kept the old one as a backup. I modified it, which was really simple, by removing the wafter and screw that holds it, and substituting a Zilla brand reptile plug in heat controller I bought at Petco for $50. The unit itself is adjustable from about 80 degrees to 105 degrees, and holds + or - 1 degree. The unit itself sits external, with just the temperature probe going into the incubator -- I just mounted the probe where the wafer was. Then, the cord of the incubator plugs into the unit.

I haven't tried it yet with any live eggs. I put some older, uneaten, unfertilized hens eggs in there and ran it for a couple of days just to see, and it seemed to work pretty well. I also abandoned the el cheapo alcohol thermometer that came with the unit, and put in a couple of different digital thermometers/hygrometers inside in its place.
I just read a piece recently about incubating eggs in India (I *think* I have the country right) in areas without electricity. Because they eat balut there (partially incubated then boiled duck eggs), they have quite an industry in incubating. They do it in hot houses using bags of rice heated in the sun and then placed over and under a bag of eggs (and then they stack them, so there are several layers of eggs/rice/eggs/rice/etc). They change the rice bags three or four times a day, turning the bag of eggs over each time.

I found the information incredibly inspiring. Somehow, I doubt that sun-heated rice bags changed out three times a day provide a really consistent temp. Maybe their hatch rates are lower than in a Brinsea or other modern convenience but... if rice bags work, a Little Giant or Hovabator can work too, lol!

My Hovabator has hatched many many eggs and always holds a terrifically steady temp. My Little Giant is new (to be used as a hatcher), and it varies wildly with the temp of the room--but I've figured out that a towel folded several times and laid across one of the windows adds enough insulation that it steadies it considerably.

Between the two of them, I've hatched quite a lot, and I really believe most people don't need the fancy contraptions, unless they just want them. Eggs are surprisingly resilient!
Thank you all! I think ESP was playing a role here today. I tried the box idea this morning, just using the sides to block the ambient air flow in the room, yet letting fresh air into the bator. Seems to be working well, been right on 99.5 all day! I should be receiving my temp/hydrometer in the mail tomorrow too. I placed a bid on some BCM eggs, and if all goes well, I should have them by next Wednesday! I am so EGGCITED!!! Now, if the storms and power company will cooperate, I should have some nice babies by the 1st of July!! Wish me luck!! I'd better get a crackin' on the coop!!!!!!!!!

Well, tomorrow, I should have my eggs! 10 with maybe some extras, of BCMs. I received my hydrometer/thermom, filled the main water hole, and plugged it in today in anticipation. Super humid here today in MO, and the hydro was reading 79%! Let it sit for awhile to adjust, 81%!!!
So, I have moved the bator to the hall closet that just happens to be my washer/dryer area. Guess I can go to the laundrymat or a friend's house for a bit! LOL. Opened up the front plug to let some of the humidity out, and the AC is on, so the humidity is coming down. The temp right now is sitting at 98F, but I figure when I put the eggs in, it will raise the temp? Is this a safe bet, or should I try to adjust it a tad higher now? It's been holding steady for about 4 hours now, and the humidity is still dropping. When it gets down to 48% or so, I guess I'll put the plug back in the vent hole and see if it holds. Been reading a lot of posts all over this board getting great ideas and tips, thanks for all of the collective knowledge! Of course, friends and family think I've lost my mind! I don't dare tell them I can't use the washer for 22 days or so till the chicks hatch, gees, they'd have me committed! So as far as they know, my washer is on the fritz
. Wish me luck, I sure hope the eggs get here tomorrow and are goodins'. In the mean time, I will be reading on!

Hi Debbi. First I want to say
. I live in Lebanon MO down by Springfield. I hope you get your bator stabalized and have a good hatch. I recently purchased some BCM chicks from the Wade Jeane line. They are awesome little fellow/gals. Luckily mine were already hatched. What part of MO are you in?

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