Little Giant Incubator Tricks

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by jabowery, Nov 23, 2011.

  1. jabowery

    jabowery Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I bought a still-air Little Giant incubator and ended up with so much trouble maintaining the temperature and humidity that this time around I'm trying some tricks.

    With the help of others in this thread I'm compiling a list of "best practices" for the LG, given the fact that the reason people go with the LG in the first place is to save money. That means they probably don't want to spend a lot on accessories:

    1) Get a 12VDC power adapter and computer fan from some computer nut you know or, failing that, Radio Shack. (Being a computer nut myself, this was easy.) Cut off the connector and splice it to the computer fan. If it doesn't turn when plugged in, try reversing the wires. Use (preferably electricians) tape to insulate the wires from each other. Cut out a little square of cheese cloth slightly larger than the face of the fan. Glue one side of the cheese cloth to one side of the computer fan (hot glue guns work for me but you might get away with superglue) . Pull the cheese cloth tight and glue down the opposite side. Do the same for the remaining sides. Why all this trouble? Hey, if you had the money to buy the expensive LG fan accessory, why buy the LG in the first place?

    2) Fill two small jars and, put a sponge in each (Thanks cmom! ) to "wick" the moister up and increase the evaporative surface area and placed it in the incubator. Place them in the two "top" corners of the base. Use a "wash bottle" so you can refill them without opening the incubator (Thanks cmom! ).

    3) I took a medical thermometer (not digital!), pushed its top into one of the red caps' concaved areas -- it fits snugly into my thermometer -- so it can't fall through the holes left when the red plugs are removed, and leave it in the one "above" the windows. Do NOT use the hole "below" the windows for this! Both red plugs should be removed.

    4) Take the cap from a gallon milk jug, turn it upside down and screw it into the top of that nasty little thermostat "knob" to provide a bigger knob with finer control (Thanks cmom! ). For folks like me who want even finer control (meaning a longer lever arm) leave a pair of pliers on the incubator at all times so when the thermometer indicates an out-of-range temperature, I can grab that little nasty little "knob" with the pliers and turn it from the end of the pliers ever so slightly. However you do it, keep in mind if you don't do VERY slight adjustments, letting the temperature settle for at least an hour with each adjustment, you can't get control of the temperature.

    Once I got the temperature within range of not killing the eggs if they experience it for a short time (few hours at most at 98.5 up to 101.5), I put the eggs in and start adjusting the temperature.

    Any "adjustment" of the styrofoam lid changes the thermal balance. This means opening it to turn the eggs may require additional thermostat adjustments but those should be pursued only if the temperature has been out of whack for a couple of hours (this is to let the incubator heat back up after losing heat/humidity when you opened it). The practice of turning eggs during incubation remains somewhat controversial but controlled experiments conducted at the University College London in the mid 1950s showed a profound increase in percent hatches with egg turning (Thanks Cynthia! ).
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
  2. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like you've got it pretty much figured out. People DO manage really good hatches in these incubators, but it seems to take a good amount more skill than with some of the 'easier' bators out there. It's not nice having failed hatches to begin with, but I think in the end you'll end up with a better understanding of the incubation process and a better ability to troubleshoot bad incubations than a lot of other people with the set-and-forget bators.

    Out of interest, if you don't open the lid, how do you turn the eggs now?
     
  3. jabowery

    jabowery Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I don't. It is a controversial practice that, in my particular arrangement, is quite a handicap to support. For me, with the sensitivity of the Little Giant's temperature stability to disturbance of the upper lid, and the amount of adjustment that has to go into re-stabilizing the temperature, I just want to try the "egg turning is a myth" religion on for size.
     
  4. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oooh, an experiment. Cool. I like those! I've spent quite a bit of time storing and incubating old eggs, and manage to get quite good results from eggs that are three weeks old, when just about everyone on here says 7-10 days max.

    Please report back on your results when you've run a couple of incubations.

    You could always think about sitting your eggs in egg cartons, and tipping the bator side to side?
     
  5. ChickInDelight

    ChickInDelight Never an Empty Nest

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    What day is hatch?

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  6. jabowery

    jabowery Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:But really it would be nice to find out that I didn't need to turn them.
     
  7. Shayna

    Shayna I [IMG]emojione/assets/png/2665.png?v=2.2.7[/IMG]

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    Interesting idea with not turning the eggs. I do most of those things you suggested, except I put a knob on instead of using pliers. I do keep the plugs in most of the time. I lined the bottom with tin foil and put thin sponges on the bottom to help with humitiy. I use an egg turner so I don't open it until lockdown. To candle prior to lockdown, I just open a window a little and stick a little bendy wire light to see in the eggs. The temperature recovers quickly from this.
    I also put my incubator in a wooden box, actually an old drawer had no other use but holds my incubator perfectly. I drape a towel over it also to help keep it insulated. It's working pretty well for me.
    I think sharing our experiences will help us eventually master the use of the LG!
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. jabowery

    jabowery Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:About Dec. 11.
     
  9. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:But really it would be nice to find out that I didn't need to turn them.

    Oh, definitely. I just meant, IF you tried it and it wasn't working out so well. Now I want to try a not-turning hatch myself to find out!
     
  10. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    I have an LG with a fan. Here are some of my LG tricks, to bring the humidity up at lockdown I put some paper towel under the wire and make sure the reservoirs are filled with water. The paper towel may get wet but that is ok. I also add a half pint mason jar with warm water and a sponge in it. The sponge acts like a wick. Also since you are using a LG incubator the small holes line up perfectly so you can squirt water into the holes and the water will go into the jars to fill them and don't have to open the incubator up. The temp will change and that is ok too don't adjust it just let it settle out. Sometimes I may need to put two jars in the hatcher. I keep the humidity around 35% during incubation and bring it up to around 75% during lockdown. The plugs are out during lockdown. The eggs need the added airflow. If the humidity goes down during lockdown I put a straw in a hole and squirt a little warm water on the paper towel. the moisture will spread out some but that is ok. I did put a milk bottle cap on the thermostat control which works great. Since I have been doing my hatching like this my hatch rate has went up and I have had 100% hatches which i never thought before was possible. Good luck... [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

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    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012

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