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Incubation temperature and humidity

Discussion in 'Ostriches, Emu, Rheas' started by TurkeymanAu, Nov 30, 2015.

  1. TurkeymanAu

    TurkeymanAu New Egg

    Nov 30, 2015
    Hi All,
    I wonder how many of you are having problems with your hatching. I am talking sticky chicks/difficulty breaking out/leg and toe problems etc.? Sound familiar?
    I presume your temp(dry bulb) is at 97-98F
    [​IMG] (for ostrich/emu).
    BUT-the humidity levels that I have read and seen are crazy!
    Who on earth came up with dehumidifiers and suggested levels of 25-30% rel humidity?
    It's a wonder any chick is hatched at all!!
    Someone somewhere started this ridiculous idea not knowing a thing about the relationship of rel humidity and wet bulb reading.
    It is like putting your eggs in a clothes drier.
    Relative humidity should be 60% for setting and 70-75% hatching.(get a rel hum to wet bulb conversion chart if you use a wet bulb.)
    You need to get moisture in-NOT take it out!
    From what I have seen-many incubators are made by refrigeration people certainly the case in Australia,and they have no idea about incubation-only copy others.
    Get rid of the dehumidifier.
    Let me tell you what really happens in this dry incubator-All birds get their calcium for bones from the shell of the egg.The drier the environment-the harder is the shell and less calcium is released.I see chicks aplenty with toes taped.Hatching for the chick is also difficult,and the development has been impaired resulting in sticky weak chicks that have to be helped out and likely will soon die.
    In fact many breeders have resorted to humicribs to save them.
    Of course a proper diet is also essential for optimum fertility/hatchability and livability.
    I have a lifetime of experience in fully integrated commercial enterprises with particular emphasis on nutrition,and have seen 'miracle like' results.
  2. 29PalmsRanch

    29PalmsRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2013
    My goal here isn't to flame you or start a war... I'm just coming from a position of having hatched literally hundreds of ostriches. My farm puts out blue/black hybrids, but only in limited numbers now. The majority of us who are engaging in moderate to large scale hatching operations are using at least NatureForm or HatchRite equipment (if you can find it). Personally? I had my best luck with a 2 cabinet (upper/lower) 4 drawer HatchRite with horizontal rollers. The cool things about those machines is you don't have to wet/dry bulb temp anything. You set the machine at 97.5 with humidity to not top 25% and let it rip. It's all computerized and holds it right on the button. The eggs are rolled one way one hour and the other the next.

    I'm in the deep South but my machines are in central heat/air. So the air is dehumidified anyway. However, my humidifier unit on the incubator? It gets used a lot to maintain that humidity level. 25% for me has always been right on. I don't have an issue with crooked toes or wet chicks, partial hatches, high mortality rates or other issues that come with high humidity levels. If you observe a hen or rather group of hens caring for a nest, you will see those eggs NEVER go air sack up. They are rolled on their sides. I've had a MUCH better hatch rate using a HatchRite than a NatureForm any day. The problem is that great HatchRite units are next to impossible to find. We happened to get lucky... twice :)

    The thing that I keep having to remember is ostriches are like fish in fish tanks. The best thing we can do is recreate as much of their environment as possible. My birds have sand pits and a lot of good grasses and clover for grazing plus the supplemental grain and calcium they need to maintain great body mass and good healthy egg production.

    Again, I'm not here to get into a knowledge/experience battle with you. It sounds like you are spec'ing out temps and measurements for machines that aren't as advanced as what we use. Now bear in mind, we are checking calibration weekly and over maintaining the equipment to ensure what those displays say and reality are one in the same.

    There's just a lot of misinformation out there and if a newbie reads 60%, then they aren't going to take the time to figure out the difference between wet and dry bulb measurements.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2015
  3. TurkeymanAu

    TurkeymanAu New Egg

    Nov 30, 2015
    I just posted to point out something which is very wrong..The figures you mention are also a big problem. I believe it stems from data given out by incubator manufacturers who are just that-manufacturers.This data and figures is repeated over and over by others-copy and paste.
    Beware of the internet-use your brains and common sense.
    Established makers for 100 years have all employed water trays in incubators,with the surface area of the water and ventilation ports as a means of controlling the rel humidity level.
    You mention your humidifier-not your dehumidifier ???.
    Where is your water source?
    I wholly agree with you to keep things /copy as in nature, I have always done that with great success. I believe the rel humidity under an ostrich sitting on eggs was quoted in a study at 70%.
    Big problem with all these figures people have it mixed up.Wet bulb/dry bulb/centigrade/fahrenheit-rel humidity!!!
    Ponder this-If you had a bird sit on eggs naturally in Texas-what is the ambient humidity?I just looked at July for instance with figures from 1961.Rel humidity 50% plus except on area at 44%.How does that bird get the humidity down to 25-30%??.An animal just like us.consisting of 80% or so water?
    I think the 25% humidity is an error-and has been repeated and copied everywhere.It should have been 25deg.C wet bulb
    Chicken eggs for instance is 100*F dry and 84*F wet bulb (37.7*c and 28.9*C)Rel humidity 52%(setting).
    I have incubated many species but my main activity was with turkeys -hatching over 2000 per week. Results generally over 80% viable poults from ALL eggs set.with a top of 82.5%!! in 1965.Ask around and you will not be believed.Of course-correct incubator management,but the vibrancy of the hatchlings was amazing,and due to my diet formulation (micro-nutrients,and that's all I'm saying)We had own feedmill.
  4. birdeo

    birdeo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 11, 2013
    I adjust the relative humidity ( while keeping the temp. at 97.5 for emu eggs ) according to the weight loss of the eggs, shooting for the ideal 15% weight loss.
    If the egg are losing too much weight then of course you need to moisten the incubator parameters up, if not losing enough weight then you have to dry it up in the incubator.
    Keep in mind, some eggs are more porous than others and will want to loose to much weight, you have to make adjustments for eggs that are overly so . ( raise the humidity )
    Also, some eggs have thicker shells than others, they may not want to lose enough weight , again...you would have to make nec. adjustments for eggs like this. ( lower the humidity )
    Sometimes it would require a separate incubator for " trouble eggs" in those above two situations.
    However, in either case the extremes in shell textures usually do not hatch well.

    How does the bird get the humidity down ?
    The birds setting in the wild ( mother nature) are hard to beat , all we can do is try to imitate them at best.
    Keep in mind too, your ambient room temp. and humidity can affect what goes on your incubator, hence the reason needing dehumidifers and humidifiers , whatever the situation calls for.
    Best to keep your room temp . constant and not get over about 80 degrees.
    Sufficient air flow and proper turning the entire time of course goes without saying. ( I'm a firm believer of NOT " locking down" in the last few days ) .

    All eggs lose weight during incubation, you need to get the ideal moisture OUT of the egg.
  5. TurkeymanAu

    TurkeymanAu New Egg

    Nov 30, 2015
    Birdeo-you also repeated my question "How does the bird get the humidity down ? " Can you surmise if and how they do?
    My view is that it is impossible for a bird to lessen or create a rel humidity LESS than the ambient rel humidity.
    The clutch is always going to be between the ambient humidity and 70% odd when the bird sits full time.
    The paranoia on weighing to achieve a 15% weight loss is akin to science and 'experts' running amok-with a total disregard of nature and common sense,
    and misunderstanding of all the various monitoring values.
    I have never weighed for weight loss or worried about it,nor concerned about room environment-dehumidifiers etc.etc.
    Just got the right incubator environment/automatic turning in the setter and good nutrition for breeders.
    At 25% rel humidity eggs get dryer-shells get harder and pores close thus actually inhibiting natural weight loss.
    As I said the 25% figure should actually be 25*C wet bulb which equates to a rel humidity of around 50%.
    Just hang a wet bulb thermometer in your incubator-it should be around 80-82*F
  6. birdeo

    birdeo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 11, 2013
    I was repeating what you said, not re-asking the question and I followed with my take on the matter.
    The birds in the wild do it , I assume they regulate the humidity in ways such as getting up, shifting around , getting more air to the eggs for example.
    like I said....it's hard to beat mother nature. All we're doing is trying to imitate the process , at best.
    Exactly what all is involved in HOW they do it is beyond me...never thought much about it but they do it .

    Paranoia ?
    The weight loss guides/ suggestions have been studied for many many years, who are we to question the experts/scholars who have shown us them to be very reliable guides to follow and adhere to? IF you want a successful hatch without too many issues such as Dead in shells, sticky chicks, crooked toes, etc. then personally I find it best to follow their guidelines .

    I also understand how to figure relative humidity per the wet & dry bulb conversion and understand the importance of how ALL aspects of your ambient temp., humidity, and air flow in your room ( again, it can affect what goes on in your incubator ) AND in you incubator come into play in order to get... yes....proper weight losses.
    All those factors are relative, IE: interrelated .

    Weighing the eggs work for me , that's my guide to keep close track of what the incubator parameters SHOULD be for proper weight losses .
    Been incubating eggs for MANY years...I'm sticking to what the experts suggest and will continue using it as MY game plan.
    I suggest... if you want to question some "experts" on the matter... that you may want to contact some authorities at some well known universities that have outstanding agricultural programs for starters but I get the feeling you would take whatever they say as " bunk ".

    If 25% is working for 29Palms then that's great for him, I will not challenge that whatsoever and chances are it's a good starting point for most ostrich eggs that don't have extremely overly porous or thick smooth shell textures.

    Don't forget again, eggs need to LOSE moisture during incubation, not take it in....this is your weight loss and what it's all about.
    Curious also, where did you get the information that "At 25% rel humidity eggs get dryer-shells get harder and pores close thus actually inhibiting natural weight loss." ?
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2015
  7. Good discussion going on here. 29PalmsRanch can you share with us how you calibrate your HatchRite? And do you do it weekly for the whole hatch?
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2015
  8. TurkeymanAu

    TurkeymanAu New Egg

    Nov 30, 2015
    Sounds like some of you are just here to argue-suit yourself.
    as for experts and authorities from Universities,let me tell you that in days gone by I have had many people sent to me by them-for advice as they just didn't know
    themselves.There's theory-and then there's practice.
    SO-what is the problem about giving us all a wet bulb reading-someone?
    Simple-dry bulb temp 37 or 37.5*F--wet bulb ???
    Haven't got a wet bulb themometer? I'll send you one.
    In the meantime you guys should research what 25% relative humidity REALLY is.
  9. TurkeymanAu

    TurkeymanAu New Egg

    Nov 30, 2015
    Google this-"relative humidity for incubation of eggs"
    It has many species of birds listed although I haven't the time to search for ratites.
    Check the rel humidity and corresponding wet bulb requirements-none I recall less than 60% rel hum, and all
    species in that general ball park.
    Many references all generally the same thing. Yet Ostrich eggs 25% LOL.
    You may also read somewhere about what to do in case of power outage-I think it was from one of your esteemed 'expert' universities.
    The advice was to cover the incubator and keep it warm.
    This demonstrates how **** little they actually know.
    With a power outage air circulation stops-hot air rises and will affect those eggs at top.
    You actually need to open door asap-get the temp down a bit-won't hurt-then close the door and monitor temp at top of incubator so it doesnt exceed setting temp.
    Basic science-too bad the experts were awol.
  10. 29PalmsRanch

    29PalmsRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2013
    Calibration Instructions are on page 8 :) https://www.dropbox.com/s/n25vvucnipqaouq/Hatchrite, Inc. Egg Incubator Owners Manual.pdf?dl=0

    Here's reality. Show me a farm in Texas who has bird incubating their own eggs. I isolated a breeding trio and observed their nesting behavior for a year complete with eggs. Imagine this. They NEVER successfully hatched anything. The humidity is WAY too high. I would guess that the Texas example you gave wouldn't have much success either.

    In my home, we have 2 Central A/C units. My incubation room is attached to my home. Our relative humidity inside is 16% on the nose when we run the A/C during spring and summer through late fall. We are way down south about 30 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico. The HUMIDIFIER unit on the back of my hatchrite has an water container in it. When the humidity sensor reads less than 25%, then the machine activates that humidity unit and viola! 25%. It also adjusts temps at .10 F Too bad these guys went out of business ~20 years ago. Stainless and glass. If you get one in near perfect condition, count yourself lucky. Mine are bulletproof.

    So yes, when you are doing chickens, quail, pheasants, peafowl, turkey, et al... you are running VERY high humidity rates, and you're running much different equipment. You aren't going to be hatching a lot of ostrich out of a Sportsman. And one more thing you've left out of your 'equation'... Ostrich are native to desert grasslands... in Africa. Their relative humidity is MUCH lower in their natural environment than anywhere in the Eastern part of the US. That's why a lot of ostrich farms are spread throughout Texas, Arizona, California, and Nevada... the desert parts.

    And anytime you want to tour my operation to ensure that I'm not copying and pasting from Google, come on down! I'll be more than happy to show you around.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2015

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