Hovabator and humidity question.

cscigu

Chirping
5 Years
May 14, 2014
90
12
94
I have the standard square styrofoam Hovabator. Last year I was running about a 60% hatch rate, and was pretty happy. This year, my hatch rate has been awful. Don't know if its the eggs, or other issues, but I do have some questions about humidity. I buy eggs off Ebay (I know, don't say it) but am very selective. I do this because I'm wanting some different breeds, and its a hobby, not a passion.

On humidity: I seem to run into a wide variety of opinions on this, so I'm starting from scratch. The Hovabator has a plastic liner in the bottom with channels that you can add water to. Its instructions are to fill the outermost channel with water, keep it full, and then fill the inner channel just prior to the hatch.

I'd like to resist opening the incubator as much as possible. I've seen some videos of folks adding water via a thick straw thru the vent holes. This seems like a good idea, but you'd have to use the inner channel instead of the outer. I can't imagine this would be a big deal, but thought I'd toss it out.

Next, on my last bunch of eggs, it seemed like the membrane was thick and tough, and may have made hatches very hard. Would that be a humidity issue? At any rate, I had very few pippings anyway.

I'd just like some input on humidity levels from Hovabator vets. Last time I kept that thermometer right atop the eggs the whole time, and held a very good 99.5, but still had maybe a 10% hatch. I felt like I'd been very diligent. I can't decide which thermometers to trust, or where to keep them, either.

Thanks for any advice.
 

AmyLynn2374

Humidity Queen
5 Years
Oct 11, 2014
15,028
2,680
456
Gouverneur, NY
I have the standard square styrofoam Hovabator. Last year I was running about a 60% hatch rate, and was pretty happy. This year, my hatch rate has been awful. Don't know if its the eggs, or other issues, but I do have some questions about humidity. I buy eggs off Ebay (I know, don't say it) but am very selective. I do this because I'm wanting some different breeds, and its a hobby, not a passion.

On humidity: I seem to run into a wide variety of opinions on this, so I'm starting from scratch. The Hovabator has a plastic liner in the bottom with channels that you can add water to. Its instructions are to fill the outermost channel with water, keep it full, and then fill the inner channel just prior to the hatch.

I'd like to resist opening the incubator as much as possible. I've seen some videos of folks adding water via a thick straw thru the vent holes. This seems like a good idea, but you'd have to use the inner channel instead of the outer. I can't imagine this would be a big deal, but thought I'd toss it out.

Next, on my last bunch of eggs, it seemed like the membrane was thick and tough, and may have made hatches very hard. Would that be a humidity issue? At any rate, I had very few pippings anyway.

I'd just like some input on humidity levels from Hovabator vets. Last time I kept that thermometer right atop the eggs the whole time, and held a very good 99.5, but still had maybe a 10% hatch. I felt like I'd been very diligent. I can't decide which thermometers to trust, or where to keep them, either.

Thanks for any advice.
When it comes to humidity the best way (in my opinion) to know if your humidity is on target is by monitoring and marking the air cells. Different levels work for different people and the trick is to find what works for you. In the styro bators most have found that a low humidity incubation works best. (Otherwise known as "dry". I don't like to use the term "dry" as it is very misleading.) If you have a checked and accurate thermometer/hygrometer and a bator that holds a stable temp this is the method I swear by, especially for styrofoam bators: http://letsraisechickens.weebly.com...anuals-understanding-and-controlling-humidity
 
Last edited:

cscigu

Chirping
5 Years
May 14, 2014
90
12
94
Very good info, and thanks. I'm going to keep this handy once I get my eggs in the incubator.

I've had troubles candling eggs due to two things. I'm normally hatching dark eggs like marans, and inexperience. I have the plug-in flashlight looking thing, and just have trouble telling what is what in there.
 

Drewnkat

Songster
11 Years
Mar 27, 2008
176
41
191
Georgia
Yeah candling eggs with dark shells is hard, but usually if you get a good angle on it, you can at least tell where the air cell is.

A good hygrometer is well worth it. And it doesn't have to break the bank. I got a cheap one off Amazon for about ten bucks. I checked the calibration by performing a salt test, and it was correct. I prefer to have two thermometers at least, just because sometimes an incubator can have variations in temperature. Checking in multiple locations can give you a better overall picture of what's going on.

Using the lower-humidity method, I have had great success with my hovabator. You didn't say whether you have a fan or not, but if you don't it's well worth it to add one. You can often get one for about $5 from a computer supply store. Or if you know someone who works on computers, they may have a spare one out of a dead PC that you can have for free.

I was sure I'd get maybe a 50% success rate at most since my incubator was old, and had been abandoned in a shed out back by a previous resident. Imagine my shock when I had 100% success, and then 95% for my second batch. You don't need a fancy expensive incubator to have good hatches, you just need to know what your temp/humidity is doing, and be able to adjust.
 

cscigu

Chirping
5 Years
May 14, 2014
90
12
94
I ordered a new, not expensive thermo/hygro from Amazon yesterday. The kind people use for snake aquariums, so it should decent, had pretty good reviews. I also have the standard little therm on the plastic card that sits atop the eggs.

So, my plan had been to open the incubator only to candle, then add water thru a straw in the vent hole. I can't imagine that which channel the water is in makes much difference. Now that I read the article AmyLynn posted, I'm wondering about this "dry" method that its says some styrofoam hatchers have found successful, as long as you can maintain around 25% humidity. More confusion. My last hatch, in March, I thought the membranes seemed very tough. It was fairly dry weather then. Now, it is VERY humid around here due to constant rain, so I might have to take that into account.

Boiling it down; I should aim for 35-40% for the first 17, then 65-70% for lockdown?

Just FYI, this time I will be incubating some Bielefelder, and a cross of Black Copper Marans/Welsummer eggs, plus a couple eggs I snagged from a BC Marans hen of my own.
 

Drewnkat

Songster
11 Years
Mar 27, 2008
176
41
191
Georgia
Since you are incubating Marans eggs, and those tend to have thick, non-porous shells, I would shoot for 30-35% humidity for day 1-7. If the air cells look good at that point, stick with 30-35% until day 14. If the air cells are not developed enough, go down a bit, 25-30% humidity. If they are big, bump it up to 35-40%.

Same thing at day 14. Check air cell size again, adjust if necessary.

And yes, 65-70% humidity for lockdown and hatching. Wishing you all the best for a successful hatch and healthy chicks!
 

AmyLynn2374

Humidity Queen
5 Years
Oct 11, 2014
15,028
2,680
456
Gouverneur, NY
I ordered a new, not expensive thermo/hygro from Amazon yesterday. The kind people use for snake aquariums, so it should decent, had pretty good reviews. I also have the standard little therm on the plastic card that sits atop the eggs.

So, my plan had been to open the incubator only to candle, then add water thru a straw in the vent hole. I can't imagine that which channel the water is in makes much difference. Now that I read the article AmyLynn posted, I'm wondering about this "dry" method that its says some styrofoam hatchers have found successful, as long as you can maintain around 25% humidity. More confusion. My last hatch, in March, I thought the membranes seemed very tough. It was fairly dry weather then. Now, it is VERY humid around here due to constant rain, so I might have to take that into account.

Boiling it down; I should aim for 35-40% for the first 17, then 65-70% for lockdown?

Just FYI, this time I will be incubating some Bielefelder, and a cross of Black Copper Marans/Welsummer eggs, plus a couple eggs I snagged from a BC Marans hen of my own.


Since you are incubating Marans eggs, and those tend to have thick, non-porous shells, I would shoot for 30-35% humidity for day 1-7. If the air cells look good at that point, stick with 30-35% until day 14. If the air cells are not developed enough, go down a bit, 25-30% humidity. If they are big, bump it up to 35-40%.

Same thing at day 14. Check air cell size again, adjust if necessary.

And yes, 65-70% humidity for lockdown and hatching. Wishing you all the best for a successful hatch and healthy chicks!
x's 2 whatever you choose to start at for humidity just watch the air cells and you can adjust if they are not loosing enough or if they are loosing too much. I do 30-35% and then 75% at lockdown because that's what works for me, but I keep an eye on the air cell just in case it's not right the hatch I am on.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom