Little Giant - worth it?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by ScienceTchr, Mar 31, 2012.

  1. ScienceTchr

    ScienceTchr Out Of The Brooder

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    Our TSC has Little Giants on sale for $39.99. I am thinking of getting one to hatch eggs in my classroom (I posted awhile back about this).

    So I have a few questions and I am hoping you can help:
    1. Do I need the egg turner? It will be set-up in my classroom I am there most days from 7-4 and on a day that I was sick or had a sub I could have one of my team teachers turn eggs for me. Weekends aren't an issue either because we have full access at all times to our school.

    2. What other supplies do you consider must haves if I go for the Little Giant?

    3. Are there certain breeds that are easier to hatch? Our flock at home is 4 Dominiques and a "chicken mutt" (who knows what she is she came from a guy who had like 100+ chickens in a fenced in 2 acre area of every breed and breed combination imaginable) and we'll be adding our hatchlings in with them. We have 4 Easter Egger chicks coming at the end of April that we added to a friends Murray McMurray order who will also be joining the flock when they are ready.
     
  2. quintinp

    quintinp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't think so, I would go ahead and save for a Brinsea mini advanced, It has auto turning, and is a great incubator from the reviews I have heard about it. If you can check ebay, they are usually 100 dollars?? I think they cost that much.

    I wanted one, but I ended up buying a Rcom mini incubator. I recommend the Brinsea mini advanced, because it has all around viewing, and instead of 2 people being able to see into the Little Giant, and with the Brinsea incubator, multiple kids can watch the eggs hatch at one time.
     
  3. nurse_turtle

    nurse_turtle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I advise against the LG. It is known for it's unstable temperatures. Many users have experienced temperature spikes that killed otherwise viable embryos. The baseline Hovabator is about the same price and is much more stable. I recommend using the 'dry' incubation method which you can search for on the site for instructions. You may need a hygrometer to measure humidity, especially at lockdown.
     
  4. ScienceTchr

    ScienceTchr Out Of The Brooder

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    Oh I love that Brinsea -- and the kids would have a great view of the chicks. I teach 7th grade so while the LG's viewing window isn't a huge issue it would be nice to have things be more visible for everyone instead of taking turns.

    I don't need a big incubator I only plan on hatching out less then a dozen eggs every year, in most cases the hatchlings will be added to our flock and I can see that if I hatch more then 6 chicks every year I would quickly wear on my husbands patience (although he loves our chickens as much as I do he wouldn't be super tolerant of a flock that quickly outgrew the new coop he is building me, because our flock will be too large for the one he built me last year once we add all of our new additions).
     
  5. AinaWGSD

    AinaWGSD Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Lots of people have had problems with LG incubators. But there are also quite a few people out there who swear by them. For us, it was a matter of urgency and finances. We needed an incubator on very short notice (lost our rooster suddenly) and we had very limited funds with which to buy one. The Little Giant still air incubators were on sale for $35 that weekend so that's what we went with. I haven't made it through my first hatch yet, so I can't say what kind of luck I've had with them personally. But I can say that so far we have not had any temperature spikes that I am aware of. Our temps have been holding pretty steady and the fluctuations that I have seen can all be attributed to fluctuations in the room temperature (that kind of happens when you go from 80 in the afternoon to 40 for an overnight low, and don't exactly think you'll need to turn the heat on when it's still 80 in the house when you go to bed). No, it's not the best or most reliable incubator out there. But so far it has met our needs.

    1. Hand turning eggs works just fine if you have the time and aren't prone to forgetting. But if you aren't going to have the incubator in your home and you can afford one, I would spring for the automatic turner. That way you know for sure that the eggs are being turned even when you can't make it in for some reason. It would also make weekends less stressful for you. I don't know how far away from your school you live, but unless it's within walking distance I can't imagine that the gas to drive there and back three times a day on Saturday and Sunday wouldn't make it worth the investment for an auto turner.

    2. An accurate thermometer. The ones that come with the incubator are notoriously inaccurate. Also, a hygrometer. Humidity can make or break a hatch, and it's good to have a hygrometer just to keep an eye on the humidity regardless of which side of the humidity camp you are on. And an LED flashlight with a high lumens rating for candling. Those are the basics. Since I'm assuming that this is going to be a teaching tool and not just a personal hatching, you should probably also get a small notebook to keep notes. I have one (cost like $0.50 at WalMart) that I write the date, time of day, which side I turned to (since I am hand turning), temperature and humidity before turning and the end temp. and humidity when I close the incubator back up after turning. I also noted how many eggs we set, how many were clear on what day, and how many eggs from each hen are in there. And I make notes after candling or adding water or on the few occasions where I've felt the need to adjust the temperature. If you're hand turning, keeping a notebook helps you to keep track of whether or not you've turned yet. Depending on how old your students are, they could help with this record book, or even keep one of their own with their own observations and feelings on the project. Even if you weren't using this as a teaching tool, I personally feel that keeping a notebook is useful because if something doesn't go the way you expect it to you can look back at your notes and be better able to pinpoint the problem so that you can fix it with the next hatch.

    3. Any of the common backyard breeds should be equally easy to hatch. Some of the less common breeds may have fertility issues. For example, there are a few studies out there that indicate rose combed birds have lower fertility than single combed birds, but a breeder that has an appropriate rooster-hen ratio rarely has problems with fertility. Talking to whomever you buy eggs from should make it easy to spot if they have a breed or strain of birds that will be prone to that. Also, age and health of the flock in general can also affect fertility. Storage and handling of hatching eggs between the time they are laid and when they are set tends to have a much bigger impact on hatchability than breed. Shipped eggs are particularly difficult to hatch, so if you're looking for easy to hatch I would try to find eggs that you could drive and pick up yourself rather than having eggs shipped through the mail.

    They aren't "easier" to hatch, but it should be mentioned that white or very light brown eggs will be much easier to see into when you candle them. Dark brown and green eggs can be nearly impossible to candle. Most of the eggs we set for our first hatch (at least the ones that were fertile and developed anyway) are green eggs. At day 4 when we candled most of the lighter green eggs weren't really any more difficult to see into than the brown eggs, but by day 10 even the lightest green egg was much more difficult to see what was going on in there other than , "there's an air cell, and there's a dark blob that might be moving...or is that my eyes being tired and playing tricks on me?"

    Good luck on your decision. Personally, if I had $100 to spend on an incubator I probably would have sprung for a nicer one than the Little Giant. But they do work, even if not as reliably as some of the other brands/models out there.
     
  6. laura877

    laura877 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've just finished two different hatches with the LG. One of the secrets is to put it where there are no swings in temperature. Last year I had it in a downstairs bathroom with no heat in the basement but a wood stove. The temps just fluctuated too much. I got chicks but not very many. This year I put it in my walkin closet on the floor as it ws the only place in a 3000 sq ft home that I could think of that would be a steady temp. (My daughter has a 400 egg bator that she keeps in her fron coat closet). First hatch I had, there was 100% of fully develped chicks but only about 60% hatched and lived. I wasn't aware of the dry method and didn't have a hygrometer to watch humidity. This last time I did get a cheap hygrometer, did a dry hatch method, and got a lmost 72% hatch rate. I must say that I did take a fan out of an old computer and hooked it up inside. I'm sure that helped a lot.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2012
  7. ScienceTchr

    ScienceTchr Out Of The Brooder

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    The steady temp is an issue then I think for the LG -- the school turns the heat off on the weekends in particular so I would need something that could withstand some fluctuation without risking the hatch. It is starting to warm up enough during the day that the night temps aren't dipping as low in the school (I have a thermometer that records lows/highs and reset it frequently to get a good idea of the class temp at night and on weekends).
     
  8. minpinmama

    minpinmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My opinion as a newbie for what it is worth?
    I just got rid of my LG after two bad rounds with three different breeders eggs. Most eggs looked like they started to
    develop and then stopped at about 3 days.
    With a LG unless you pay another $40. for an egg turner and another 35. for a fan kit which now totals approx !120. I'd go for a
    Farm Innovators Pro Series which include the egg turner, fan already installed and a thermometer and egg candler.
    They can be found on Amazon for I believe $119. and free shipping if you're a prime member I think.
    I wouldn't try at all without a turner or fan.

    The FI pro series is also a styrofoam one but it has a molded plastic casing around the styrofoam which may account for
    it keeping the temp pretty steady.

    Added later: Forgot to mention with a FI Pro series heed the warning 'reference only' and keep the included them inside with the eggs.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2012
  9. TarheelBirdy

    TarheelBirdy Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have a Hovabator for my incubating and use my Little Giant for hatching. However, I have been known to use the Little Giant for new eggs when I just can't wait.

    My tips....watch your thermometer and hygrometer closely, and (my secret for stabilizing both) put a 3 - 5 lb hand weight on top of the incubator.

    Otherwise, just forego the Little Giant and buy a Hovabator.
     
  10. adrian

    adrian Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As an owner of a mini Brinsea incubator, I can't think of a better little incubator for classroom hatching. Great view, great incubator, small number of eggs... If you got a larger incubator and set twice as many eggs, you might get less chicks than you'd get from the Brinsea. Just my two cents. The auto turning is a great feature in the Advance. The Eco is quite a lot cheaper, but you must turn yourself. I'd recommend the Advance, if you can afford it. I have the whole package, the EX. But the Advance is nearly the same. I think it will suit your purposes very well. [​IMG]
     

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