Homemade Incubator and Lockdown Concerns

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by angelbabyamy, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. angelbabyamy

    angelbabyamy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 18, 2011
    Myrtle Point, OR
    Hi everyone, this is the first time I have incubated chicks. I really want some FBCM and this seemed like the only way I could get some. The incubator I am using was my mother's, it hasn't been used in over 20 years. It is a homemade cabinet style made of wood with metal around the sides except for the top and door which are wood only. I have 3 hydrometers- one on each tray in various places and my temp stays contant at 99.6. It takes very little water to up the humidity. When my pan runs dry my humidity is 37%. The pan has many sections to it so you can vary the amount of water space.
    I am on day 15 and after reading posts am concerned about lockdown. I have to open the front of my incubator to check humidity, turn eggs and add water. Is this going to be a bad thing while I am in lockdown?
    My mother only remembers using this once, she said she had problems with chicks with puffy bottoms.
    Thanks,
    Amy
     
  2. Cold Canadian

    Cold Canadian Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 19, 2010
    Manitoba Canada
    I'm fairly new as well to incubators , but opening the door to check levels is about the same as a broody hen leaving the nest , she does leave and I've read somewhere that someone was even saying that eggs should have a bit of a "' cool '' off ? . True or not I'm not sure ..........but I also have to lift a lid to check for humidity etc and the temp drop is small . and as far as I'm concerned it's the air temp that drops , not so much the egg temp which is a mass and should retrain it's heat longer .My hatch's are fine , so it seems to have very little effect , as long as it isn't to long .........good luck
     
  3. rickerra

    rickerra Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 26, 2011
    Spokane, WA
    Hello. By the sounds of your incubator, you don't have a viewing window to see inside? That makes things tricky during lockdown. Ideally you want to put the eggs in hatching position, bump up your humidity by adding water to the water trays or sponges.. then close the lid and NOT open it until they all hatch. If you can't see inside yours... that presents a challenge. Do your thermometers or hygrometers have external probes that you can run into the box and keep the gauge on the outside where you can read it? That would be helpful so you can monitor the vitals (temp/humidity) without opening the lid. Then if you need more humidity, you could squirt a little water into a water tray or sponge or washcloth inside the box.

    If you don't have a window or external probes... hmmm. I'd still lock it down. And try peeking in through a small round vent hole?

    When you open the lid during lockdown, it's not the temperature drop that causes problems. It's the sudden humidity drop as the higher incubator humidity escapes into the room. As the eggs are hatching they are very vulnerable to sudden drops in humidity. This can "shrink wrap" the membrane around the chick who's just pipped the shell and trying to get out.

    Perhaps you can drill a peak hole in the wooden lid? That way you can see the meters and the action without opening the lid. Just plug or tape over the hole when your not using it... unless your using it as a vent.

    Good luck!
     
  4. rebelcowboysnb

    rebelcowboysnb Confederate Money Farm

    Cutting a viewing window to put a piece of glass from a picture frame in would help. Or run a USB webcam inside the incubator.
     
  5. angelbabyamy

    angelbabyamy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 18, 2011
    Myrtle Point, OR
    Thanks everyone for the tips. No, it does not have any viewing panes. There are 2 vent holes on the top and one on the bottom but I tried shining a flashlight to look in and the plywood is so thick, I can't see- and it's a pretty good sized hole. My humidity pan is on the bottom but is higher than the vent hole. It doesn't take much to raise the humidity in the incubator. I didn't start reading this forum until after I started the egggs. Didn't see anything previously about lockdown- just raising the humidity in the last 3 days.
    I'm starting to get a little worried. Maybe if I have a steam iron with me when I open the door I will be ok, lol!
    If I get a webcam (I have never used one) is there a certain kind or place where I should get it?
    I should have did a test run on my own eggs before I bought any. Funny how it starts with, I want a few Marans, buy a dozen eggs online and then find someone local and end up with another dozen Marans and a dozen BLRW, my polish start laying and then I added 5 of their eggs! All my polish eggs are good- good veins and movement and I am positive about most of the others. I don't want to lose them in the end!
    Maybe after this hatch my husband can modify the front door so I can see through it. My fan is on the top.
     
  6. rickerra

    rickerra Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 26, 2011
    Spokane, WA
    Wow... you have a very full incubator. That makes it tricky... no time for experimenting. Too much at risk.

    On the good side, you have 18 days (since you started incubating) to figure out what you are doing to do for lockdown.

    In the mean time, you have to open the lid to turn the eggs 3 times a day (at least)... so use that open-lid time to monitor temps and humidity. Get a piece of paper and write down your vitals every time you pop the lid. Then make *small* adjustments to your humidity (or temps... but I'm hoping you have steady temps already) and try to get it to hold steady based on your change. Changes such as how much water you put in... or sponges... or additional water trays. For days 1-18... shoot for 40%. Next, see if you can get it to hold steady near 60% for a day. One day at that level won't hurt anything during days 1-18 (18 straight days at 60% could). If you can dial that % in, then whatever you did to get there you can repeat on day 18 for lock down and rest a little easier that you have a decent humidity level during lock down. Then don't open the lid! Or at most just a crack for a peek and only for a second. Don't want to loose all the humidity in the box... especially if you hear peeps and chick noises.

    OR... bust out a 1" hole saw drill bit and make a viewing hole. Then cover it with a piece of duct tape. Problem solved.

    Good luck!
     
  7. angelbabyamy

    angelbabyamy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 18, 2011
    Myrtle Point, OR
    Well, my husband came home from work today and I am really getting upset and worried about what I am going to do during lockdown, so........ we got some plexiglass, took the door off and stapled plastic over the opening. He is currently in the garage fixing me a viewing window. We are going to drill a hole in the side so I can add water to the pan if needed. Crazy to make changes to the incubator this late into my hatch, but I don't want to lose the babies in the end. I'm so lucky to have such a great husband to put up with my chicken obsession! [​IMG] Hope it works!
     

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