Incubators - are they like instruments?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by cricket-cricket, May 10, 2008.

  1. cricket-cricket

    cricket-cricket Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm an avid member of another forum and read the woes of someone who's throwing out their incubator in frustration and buying another with which they'll feel more comfortable. We just did the same thing, and I'm not sorry!

    I'm not sure, but it I'm wondering if incubators and their components (thermometers, etc) may be a bit like musical instruments. You rather, master them, making adjustments to their idiosyncracies...and yes, like instruments, some are WAY more forgiving than others, (imagine a home-made model!), and yet, even the most crude can produce a little music with tenacity.

    I know our new styrofoam one is much better than our toy bator, but I still spent half the first night regulating it and getting accustom to it in general. We now have four eggs in it. So... far so good.

    I'll bet, too, (like instruments) there are folks out there who wouldn't trade their 'whatever' model for the latest and greatest because they have learned to achieve great success with the one they love.

    Is this analogy at all accurate? Just curious.
     
  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Sounds about right. And not only do you have to figure out how your bator works for one season and one room, it might work slightly differently summer vs winter and basement vs kitchen.
     
  3. conny63malies

    conny63malies Overrun With Chickens

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    i guess what you are trying to say is true. A wafer thermostat is lot like guitar strings- once tuned it'll hold the tone/temperature. But adjust ments are neccasarry as you play the guitar/ the ckicks in the egg can produce some heat.
    My 1602N incubator is i guess a first act bass from Walmart it works but there is something missing. What i really want is a 20 or 40 egg electronic incubator or in bass terms a Rickenbacher bass(used1500$+)
     
  4. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    Very close to the truth.

    There is much to be said for well thought out engineering, on the ohter hand. Most commercially available bators are pretty well usable, the larger (and costlier) ones being easier.
    The foamies are a bit tough to get right at first, but are serviceable. Something like the Lyon models, while a bit small are admirable. The Brower Top Hatch is good, but looks like a UFO with it's blinking light.

    My point is that you get what you pay for. You can hardly get into the proper commercial set up for less than $50, so you may as well get out your wallet. Whatever you get, replace the thermo right off and get a humidity monitor.

    Me, I've ended up making my own.
     
  5. Somechick

    Somechick Out Of The Brooder

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    I sure hope you are right and I am learning to play this incubator! On my first hatch from a Little Giant I have 3 chicks this morning so far. Three more than I expected with the wild variatons of temperature and all the thermometers saying somethind different! I finally (at the end) got as reccomended a thermometer from the camera store. Looks like it has been running cool (chicks are about a half day late, so maybe not too cool) but I was worried it was too hot at one point and that none would hatch! As much as you spend making the "cheap" styrofoam incubator work (and the anxiety involved, not to mention the 3rd degree burn--ok I'm a clutz) somehow the big expensive cabinet ones look better, are they as musical-instrument delicate and do they require the fine tuning that the styrofoam ones do? To get the styrofoam LG, the turner and just the thermometers is well over a hundred dollars...that doesn't count getting a fan (I'm trying a computer case fan next go round).

    If you want to go with the musical instrument...the touch of the master's hand does has alot to do with how an instrument sounds, but even the greatest master could not make my cheap camping guitar sound good! And I once had my hands on a multiple thousand dollar banjo. Even my ignorant fingers could make beautiful sounds...

    I'm just hoping my hens go broody! I have bought a game hen with biddies under her, no fine tuning needed there!

    I've been benefiting from the forums, thanks for all the advice y'all!
     
  6. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    NO doubt, a masters hand is needed to make the foamies work well.

    As much as you spend making the "cheap" styrofoam incubator work... somehow the big expensive cabinet ones look better. Are they as musical-instrument delicate and do they require the fine tuning that the styrofoam ones do?
    Not generally, no. They are also wasted money unless you plan to do a lot of volume hatching.

    Get to know the process with the foamies. Do 3-4 hatches in them, but be looking for ways to improve them.
    Finally find an insulated box, or make one, and use the parts from the foamie to Super Size it. Thats what I did.
    Mine is basically a heavy wooden box with the foamie parts added in. I put in a light bulb and an auto turner, with plenty of room left over for thermal buffeirng and so on.

    But you sound like you are on the right track. Have patience and gain the craft through experience. If it were dead easy, everyone would do it.
     
  7. Somechick

    Somechick Out Of The Brooder

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    Great ideas! I'm still amazed that I hatched anything,:eek: 5 out of the shell and at least two more working on it! I would have been amazed at just one! My attitude is much better about trying to hatch without a hen (though I still plan to do that too). That's disappointing about the big ones being as much trouble.

    They can send a man to the moon....the technology needed to hatch eggs does not seem like rocket science! I know they surely DO have super accurately controled electronic computerized temp and humidity incubators, don't they? Somewhere?
     
  8. Absinthe

    Absinthe New Egg

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    Sometimes you just gotta make do, too.

    about 10 years ago, I left my foamy Hova-bator out on top of the chest freezer to dry out after a hatch, and my free-rangers snuck in and pecked off a goodly chunk of foam off one side of the base portion. (Dang chickens! why, oh why do they love styrofoam so much??) Some artful application of silicone caulking, and it has been going strong every year since!
    I think of the "patch" like the hole in Willie Nelson's favorite guitar.....[​IMG]
     
  9. cricket-cricket

    cricket-cricket Out Of The Brooder

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    Cool. Well, we don't have a Steinway, but -we're learning the basics with our little foamy (Lt Giant).

    I've noticed that the temp bumps a little when I add water - no surprise when you think about it, but I didn't expect it.

    And I don't know about othrer LG owners, but that temp dial is EXTREMELY touchy! The dial has a tiny diameter - about the 1/2 size of a pen, and the slightest nudge changes the temp dramatically.

    Am nervous now too, that it's too cold in their, but we have one wiggler. I candled tonight - the other three eggs are brown and I just can't tell. I think it wiser to be consistent, rather than bump the temp - no?

    Candling - a relative art - like tuning up or something eh? just to stretch the metaphor.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2008
  10. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    This is a great thread for the budding bator-ist! I've gotten long winded on this one, but I hope it is helpful.

    They can send a man to the moon....the technology needed to hatch eggs does not seem like rocket science! I know they surely DO have super accurately controlled electronic computerized temp and humidity incubators, don't they? Somewhere?
    Yes they do. But you wont get them for under a $100. You have to double that and work up from there, costwise. The problem arises in trying to control a small air mass in both temp and humidity. It is far easier to control a larger volume of air than a smaller one. Same thing applies to the water in an aquarium.
    Siting your foamie bator where it wont be subjected to drafts, temp swings, inquisitive children, etc, goes a long way to helping. I use the bottom of a little used closet.
    You should also employ thermal load buffering. In simple terms, this means to put water filled containers or smooth stones in the bator to help mitigate temp swings in the chamber. This becomes doubly important when you dont have a full load of eggs inside.

    Cool. Well, we don't have a Steinway, but -we're learning the basics with our little foamy (Lt Giant).
    Good for you!

    I've noticed that the temp bumps a little when I add water - no surprise when you think about it, but I didn't expect it.
    All bators monitor air temps. This is their downfall and often causes the newbie no end of grief. So when you addd water, you open up the chamber and spill the carefully controlled air mass on the floor, then dump in COOLER water. Naturally the air temp will spike when the heaters come on to compensate. I add WARM water through a funnel-and-tube and so dont open the chamber at all.
    And I monitor the EGG TEMPS by using a water weasel with remote sensing thermometer.

    And I don't know about othrer LG owners, but that temp dial is EXTREMELY touchy! The dial has a tiny diameter - about the 1/2 size of a pen, and the slightest nudge changes the temp dramatically.
    I get one of the dimmer knobs for a light switch that fits and use that. The wider knob offers more precise control. However, this is a stop gap as the potentiometer that controls temp is a low grade item - it really should be a more precise component. But then you'd pay more, etc.....

    Am nervous now too, that it's too cold in their, but we have one wiggler. I candled tonight - the other three eggs are brown and I just can't tell. I think it wiser to be consistent, rather than bump the temp - no?
    Absolutely. Stability is the goal. A hundred years ago, it was recommended that you have a "cooling off" period at about day 7 and day 14. In short, you let the eggs cool down for an hour or so at those times. But I havent seen any scientific evidence that suggests it helps much. I've tried it; it makes little difference.

    A "hatch" actually consists of three phases:
    Phase I: between setting and day 7. THE MOST CRITICAL PHASE
    Phase II: Day 7-14
    Phase III: Day 14 - hatch out


    In Phase I, the embryo is utterly dependent on the bator for life. Stability and being left alone are best for them at this point. Between day 10 and 14 the chicks will have developed to begin producing their own body heat. You will notice a spike in temps at that time if you are paying attention. At that time they become a bit less dependent on the bator temps.

    And I urge you stop all that candling! You only need to do it twice - once when you SET the eggs to check for cracks or defects and on day ten. More on that in a minute.

    The most crucial time for the embryo is Phase I. They are most fragile then and the risk of irreparable damage from mishandling is at it's peak at that time. In fact, I fly in the face of convention and say, "HANDS OFF," and NO candling until day 10.

    No one wants to hear that, but - - well, there it is.

    Once the hatch has been set, the wheels are in motion. There is nothing you need to do except maintain stability in the chamber. In fact, there is little you CAN do to materially affect the outcome. You cannot help the duds that are infertile, nor the ones that will eventually die, should that be their fate.

    As for the candling on the 10th day, the only other one I recommend. That is best used checking for bacterially infected eggs and not for duds. Most tell you to candle and cull the duds at this time, but I say don't do it. They will not hatch anyway, but they can still be useful by adding their thermal buffering effect if they are not infected.
    If you are compelled to remove the duds because everyone says you should, then at least replace them with something to buffer temps, like a water filled bottle.

    TRIVIA: In the old days, they used the unhatched eggs at hatches end in cakes or puddings, or feeding to the animals. Nothing went to waste.

    Candling - a relative art - like tuning up or something eh? just to stretch the metaphor.
    Candling is best done with a BRIGHT light. The brighter the better. Some people swear by the large Mag-Lites, which have the advantage of not removing the eggs - just stick the light up to them and look.
    But I prefer a stand alone candler. If I'm candling, I want to use that opportunity to inspect the egg itself. SO, I made a candler from an old candy tin and the brightest flouro bulb I could find. I remove the egg, place it on the candlers mount and rotate it all around. I look for defects, the "red ring" of bacterial infection, etc. I do this once the hatch has reached the 2nd phase "safety zone," between day 10-14.
     

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