Newbe questions after reading up!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Rorie, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. Rorie

    Rorie Chirping

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    Apr 1, 2012
    Hi all,

    I have done a load of reading into having chickens, raising from eggs etc, but still have questions. Not all about incubating and hatching, but hopefully its ok in one post in this section....

    1) I received and incubator from a friend. I understand that the humidity is very important, but how do you measure it? The incubator has a thermometer but no humidity meter. Should i buy one and put it in the incubator? If so, does anybody have a link to where i can buy one small enough?

    2) I have been looking on ebay at brooders. I have seen brand name one which are just heat lamps i guess, with a little pen. This makes sense to me - chics run in and out from under the heat lamp for when they are hot/cold. However, i have read that i should reduce the temp by 5 degrees each week - this unit only has three temp settings..... how necessary is the 5 degrees a week?

    3) The cheaper option is to make my own, or buy a DIY kit from ebay for £20. These are just boxes with a basic heat lamp. But i am confused as to how they work - with a lid, surely the chics can't run to a cool area.....as they are in a box with a lid?!

    4) Some of the DIY brooders come with a humidity meter....but i didn't think humidity was important during brooding?!

    5) Reducing by 5 degrees a week is fine, but eventually i'll end up at room temp. How do i prepare them for the great outdoors and its fluctuating temp?!

    6) A friend reminded me of an extremely basic fact that i had some how over looked.....raising from eggs could mean i get loads of cocks, not all chickens! So a) are all cocks noisy? b) Can they live with chickens ok and allow me to still eat the eggs....i.e. if they have been fertilised?! c) I am not one to ring a chickens neck and have it for dinner, so what can i do with the cocks if the above questions don't produce the answers i'm looking for?

    Thanks very much!!
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2012
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

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  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    :frow Welcome to the Forum! :frow Glad you joined us! :frow

    If instructions did not come with that incubator, you might be able to find a copy online. I’d suggest you read them. Each incubator can be a bit different, especially the difference between still air and forced air incubators. And calibrate your instruments. Don’t trust them as they come. Manufacturing tolerances can give false readings.

    1) I received and incubator from a friend. I understand that the humidity is very important, but how do you measure it? The incubator has a thermometer but no humidity meter. Should i buy one and put it in the incubator? If so, does anybody have a link to where i can buy one small enough?

    Do a search under hygrometer. I notice you are using pounds instead of dollars so my links might not help you. You can get different types. I find the humidity in the incubator messes with my digital that I set inside, but I don’t worry about the exact humidity anyway. I just use it to tell me when the water reservoir is dry and I need to add more. The really accurate types are generally the wet bulb type.

    2) I have been looking on ebay at brooders. I have seen brand name one which are just heat lamps i guess, with a little pen. This makes sense to me - chics run in and out from under the heat lamp for when they are hot/cold. However, i have read that i should reduce the temp by 5 degrees each week - this unit only has three temp settings..... how necessary is the 5 degrees a week?

    The 5 degrees a week is not necessary. It is a general guideline that will keep most people out of trouble even if they have a lousy brooder. It’s over-the-top for most of us. If you have a decent brooder with decent draft protection, they can handle it quite a bit cooler especially after a couple of weeks.

    If you have a tiny brooder where they cannot get away from the heat, if they are huddled close to the heat and distress peeping, they are too cool. If they are lined up as far from the heat as they can get, it is too warm. Warm is generally more dangerous than cool.

    3) The cheaper option is to make my own, or buy a DIY kit from ebay for £20. These are just boxes with a basic heat lamp. But i am confused as to how they work - with a lid, surely the chics can't run to a cool area.....as they are in a box with a lid?!

    I made my own. It is in the coop and has wire around it. I do put a decent draft guard on it to keep breezes off them, but it is very well ventilated. I made it big enough that I can keep one area warm and let the rest cool off to ambient. Sometimes that ambient is as low as 40 degrees F (maybe 7 C) overnight. They sleep in the area of the heat but during the day they are all over that brooder.

    I would go bonkers trying to keep an entire brooder the perfect temperature. By making it big enough and only heating one small area, they can find their own comfort zone. With mine that is all over the brooder by Day 4. They go back to the heat to warm up when they need to. Usually, but not always, they hang around the heat for the first two or three days.

    4) Some of the DIY brooders come with a humidity meter....but i didn't think humidity was important during brooding?!

    First I heard of that. Do you think maybe it is just a sales gimmick?

    5) Reducing by 5 degrees a week is fine, but eventually i'll end up at room temp. How do i prepare them for the great outdoors and its fluctuating temp?!

    I do it by brooding outside and letting the brooder temperature fluctuate with the temperature, just keeping that one area warm. If your brooder is too small to let the temperature vary or if you have it in the house, you have to work harder. I don’t do it that way, so I don’t have experience with that.

    6) A friend reminded me of an extremely basic fact that i had some how over looked.....raising from eggs could mean i get loads of cocks, not all chickens! So a) are all cocks noisy?

    They can be and probably will be. Each chicken is an individual living animal with its own personality, so they can vary some. But expect them to be noisy,

    b) Can they live with chickens ok and allow me to still eat the eggs....i.e. if they have been fertilised?!

    The only difference between a fertilized egg and unfertilized egg is, if you incubate it a chick will develop. As long as you don’t incubate them, they are no different. They taste the same, look the same, and store the same. Think of all the free ranging flocks on small farms. Those practically always have a rooster with them and those people eat the eggs.

    c) I am not one to ring a chickens neck and have it for dinner, so what can i do with the cocks if the above questions don't produce the answers i'm looking for?

    You can usually give them away. Here we can advertise on Craigslist or something similar. Maybe you can talk to the people at the feed store. They might know someone that will take them or maybe allow you to put up a notice on a bulletin board. They will usually wind up being eaten, but not by you.

    Some people get someone else to process them and then eat them. They may pay in cash or split the meat.

    You are doing the right thing to think about hatching out males and what you will do. Despite what you may read on this forum, it is possible to keep multiple roosters with your flock. Many of us do it. But the more roosters you have the more likely you are to have problems. You’ll almost certainly find you need to get rid of some of the roosters.
     
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

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    You can purchase a cheap hygrometer from a cigar shop, cheaper still is online. A hygrometer that is adjustable to calibrate will be a bit more. I use and like this one: http://www.amazon.com/HygroSet-Round-Digital-Hygrometer-Humidors/dp/B005LQXE5G Red button changes to C or F temp, accurate to 1 degree F. The dial is to calibrate (research salt test to calibrate), other button to set calibration. Simple to use and very accurate for a $15 unit. Sometimes they're cheaper on eBay.

    For a brooder we use a plastic tote. Pine chips for bedding and a 100w clamp light attached to a board across the top for heat. You don't need heat lamps to generate heat. Ours starts inside, after a week or 2 moves to unheated back storage room in a dog kennel which lowers temp and keeps the noise down in house. At 4 weeks they go outside not needing heat anymore as they should be feathered out enough.

    Craigslist is a great way to rid yourself of unwanted roosters. Give away free and don't put a condition on them they can't be eaten, they'll be scooped up quick. With a heritage breed in demand you can charge for them.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2012
  5. Rorie

    Rorie Chirping

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    Apr 1, 2012
    Thanks for the replies!

    I went online when i got the incubator and got the instructions. However, they were a bit vague! They said to add water to one of the two troughs, then later add water to both. That doesn't allow me to measure the humidity!! But i just bought one with a little probe, so i can put the probe into the incubator.

    Its a Brinsea Octagon 10 BTW

    The incubator can take 10 eggs. It says that the chics should stay in there for 24 hours after hatching before being moved to a brooding area.....but it seems a bit small to have 10 hatched chics in....is that normal? Granted, not all 10 will hatch.

    So you guys all seem to do the brooding outside? I have two parrots so was thinking about doing it in their room as its always at a steady temp. But maybe i'm better doing it in the garage? Just making sure the sides of the container are high enough to avoid drafts?

    Thanks
     

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