Hmm, what do you think is the best budget incubator?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Duck Keeper, May 18, 2009.

  1. Duck Keeper

    Duck Keeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'd prefer it to not be styrofoam, but since that's all I've seen, I could possibly give them a try. I'm thinking of a price up to $50 or so, and I'd love a turner/fan kit, but all I've seen on eBay was like used Hovabator and Little Giants with them. Anybody have any personal experience with these models? Would you advise against buying used? Even if they say it's only been used one to two times? [​IMG]
     
  2. Duck Keeper

    Duck Keeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I ask, since my broody Buff duck has had her nest flipped over and destroyed, and after she fixed it, I'm thinking the other ducks in with her (which is dumb, I know, but we haven't got the other pens set yet) are EATING them! [​IMG]

    This is horrible news, since the wind blew over her house and murdered all but four of her twelve eggs. The house has cinder blocks around it and on top now, hopefully she can fend off the others... Now she only has one that's the farthest along, which (of course) is cracked (GRR!!!), and one that's still maybe a week on. Very staggered. Not good. [​IMG]

    I now officially have no hope for a successful hatch. [​IMG]
     
  3. Duck Keeper

    Duck Keeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Also, does anybody here have any experience with hatching ducks out?
    Dumb question, but I need some specifics if I'm going to do this right. [​IMG]
     
  4. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    Personally I think the best budget incubator is one you make yourself. It takes some preplanning and patience, but the results are worth it. For the same or less money, you get a better result in my experience. You do need to be building and "gadgety" handy, however.

    If you are not, or fear such an endeavor is out of your scope, then one of the styro units might be your next best option.
    If you go that way - pay close attention to #'s 7 and 8, below.

    Some pointers for the would be DIY'er:

    1. Use wood for the box. It breathes - one of the worst things about the styro incubators is their tendency to "drown" the embryos. Find some old shipping crate or what have you and use that. It doesnt need to be fancy, but you do want it to be thick (3/4") and sturdy. I insulate the exterior with bubble wrap and duct tape (not pretty, but functional ) and I paint the interior with gloss paint to about half the height. Hatching can be messy and this makes it easier to clean

    2. Use light bulbs, overhead, for heat. you can use other sources but you only need to get to about 100 degrees. A couple of light bulbs can handle that and they are cheap and easy to obtain.

    3. Use a recycled computer fan for air circulation. Any electronic device like a computer will have one. Keep your eyes out for a junker and remove the fan. Get a 12vdc wall convertor from the thrift store for $1 and you're in business. The wiring between the two is a simple two wire connection.

    4. Make a floor 2" high inside the bator from 3/16" - 1/2" welded wire mesh.

    Place stones, cermic tile, water filled bottles, etc. beneath this platform as thermal buffers, to hold heat.
    Eggs lay right on this floor, just as they do in the styro models. I use the foam shelf liner stuff, but you dont need to. And I stopped "turning" eggs along time ago... I just reach in quickly through the opened top and roll the eggs around gently by hand.

    5. DO NOT use water heater thermostats. The controller is the heart of your incubator, so dont skimp. Buy a wafer thermostat or a reptile heater unit. The wafer switches can be had for under $20, the reptile controller for $25. THIS is money well spent.

    6. Ventilation: 3, 1/2" holes either side on the bottom and two 1" holes on top. I use cut up credit cards, pivoted on screws as regulating dampers over the upper holes. I bore the holes with a common wood boring bit.

    7. Monitoring devices: Get a decent thermometer and hygrometer.
    I gave up on the all purpose, weather station units a long time ago. I also toss the junk thermometers that come with all styro incubators
    I now use individual digitals, with back ups. This is also money well spent.

    - My thermometer is made for aquariums and has a remote probe.
    Cost? 5$ Obtained from ebay
    - My back up is a childs fever thermometer - guaranteed to within .2 degrees accuracy.
    Cost? $3-$4 Obtained from WalMart
    - My hygrometer is made for cigar humidors and so is compact. It also reads temperature.
    Cost? $12 Obtained from ebay
    - My hygrometer back up is a simple analog (needle) model.
    Cost $3 Obtained from ebay
    - Water weasel/squeezie/water tube toy.
    The temp probe goes in this, to simulate the actual egg temp. Air temps and egg temp can be different, so this mitigates that difference.
    Cost? 88 cents. Obtained at WalMart.

    8. Read and undertand the concepts behind Dry Incubation, as found here:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/LC-DryIncubation.html

    Dont be slavish about it, but understand the concepts. Especially grasp how you control humidity by manipulating the vents. If you add water to adjust humidity, use a small tray in the chamber and just add what you really need. When I add water to the tray, I do it through the vent holes on top, via a tube and funnel.

    9. MISCELLANEOUS
    You will need some wire and wire nuts or buttsplices for some of the electrical connections. I use old lamp cord and the wire nuts are cheap. A few screws here and there will be needed and some common hand tools like, drills saws, screwdrivers, etc.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It is both complicated and rather simple, if you plan this out. That is the key. Take it one step at a time, by gathering your supplies and tools before hand. Walk through each step of the project before you go on to the next. Patience and persistence are your by-words.

    If this all sounds like too much for you, then I suggest you get one of the styros to get started - again, read #'s 7 and 8!
    Time is money and a purchased incubator may be better for you in the long run.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2009
  5. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    It dawns on me that, if you have the time and patience, this is a very good resource for the DIY incubatorist (is that a word?... incubatorist?) [​IMG]

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=8510

    ========================================

    However, since you asked about the budget angle, we're back to the HovaBators and LG's. They are about the only game in town, these days. Of the two, I'd prefer the Hova's.

    There is also the used market. If you are persistent and use things like craiglist, ebay and the B-S-T ads here, you might get one that way.
     
  6. LoveMyBirds

    LoveMyBirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:On the Ducks.. They are easy to hatch,, I hatched mine in one incubator with turkeys and chickens.. Same hunidity 35-55 and Temp. 98.5-101.5 .. 28 days.. I try to keep the temps as close to 99.5.. getting Cool is better than overheat.. Hot is bad..

    On the Incubators.. If you have the money to spend, the Hova-bator 1588 with electonic thermistat would probably be the best buy with fan and turner around $188. Check CutlerSupply.com

    Here's the big window that I bought $52 and put my own $15 110v fan in. .. then you could buy the turner for $50 and still save, but that would not be the Electonic Thermistat..

    Most people really talk great reviews on the electronics.. I just didn't want to spend that much at first, then finally bought a total of 3 anyway..LOL

    http://lllreptile.com/store/catalog/reptile-supplies/reptile-incubators/

    BUT it's so much fun.. [​IMG]

    Happy Incubating... [​IMG]
     
  7. Wifezilla

    Wifezilla Positively Ducky

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    DO NOT use water heater thermostats.

    I second this. What a complete pain they are when trying to get a stable temp.​
     
  8. Duck Keeper

    Duck Keeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow. To me - a lazy, incompetent person - that seems like a lot of work! [​IMG]
    I may just try it someday though, seems like a fun project.



    If all else fails, I'll just buy the $50 one at TSC and turn by hand. Granted, this doesn't come with a fan either, but we have a scrap laptop I could scavenge a fan from. And I could buy a nice thermometer and hygrometer from Drs. Foster & Smith when I order from them next. Have to keep my dog/cats/fish spoiled too eh? Chickens and ducks can't have ALL of the attention... But they can have most of it. [​IMG]
     
  9. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    Quote:Now you've got the right attitude! You're part way there, already!

    You are right - building your own incubator is involved. None of it is hard work, but it certainly isn't something to be taken lightly. Especiialy if you are "handy challenged."
    If it seems too much. then by all means. go for one of the premade models. Adding the fan will be an improvement and is the perfect first step project. I know there are many people who started that way.

    DO read the post on dry incubation as a learning opportunity and then go for it - and have fun.
     

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