Newby with lots of question before I begin hatching...

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by peepinator, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. peepinator

    peepinator Out Of The Brooder

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    May 30, 2010
    God's Country Idaho
    Okay, I've been doing a lot of reading on here the past few days. I've got questions and would appreciate your input [​IMG]

    1. I live in Idaho at about 3800 feet elevation, a pretty dry climate and I'm so confused about what to have humidity set at. I read a huge long post about humidity and I am still not sure about where I should run mine. Seems like there should be a "safe" range to keep it at, but according to all the posts, the ranges are everywhere and with varied success. From my reading, it seems that 35-45% for the first 18 days is about average and then 50-55% for the last three days and the temperature being consistant WITHIN THE EGG throughout the whole process is what sounds like is the most important thing.

    Am I on track?

    1. Is that average humidity about right to keep from having chicks drown or be too dry?

    2. Should I just monitor the air cell and just go by that for humidity?

    3. What is the lowest temperature that the bator can get to before it can cause problems?

    4. How much fluctuation can there be in temperature before it causes problems?

    5. How much ventilation should I have for air flow? Is it best to leave vents open and then adjust temperature & humidity accordingly so the eggs and chicks have enough fresh oxygen?

    6. About spraddle legs and rough navel....what causes both of these and how can they be prevented?

    7. Is it best for the eggs to hatch onto the wire mesh or should I use the soft shelf lining that I see pictured in some people's bators?

    8. Once the chicks start to hatch, is the temperature of 99.5 in the bator too high for them?


    Sheesh, see....lot's of questions here. Thank you in advance....I appreciate any of your input. I want to have all my chicks [​IMG] in a row before I begin!
     
  2. kid-n-chickens

    kid-n-chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 14, 2010
    Well I am in Missouri, so I dont know how that will compare to your elevation but humidity wise outside I would think it would be close enough to the same
    1. Is that average humidity about right to keep from having chicks drown or be too dry?
    **I keep it between 50 & 60% during days 1-18 then increase to 65-75% for days 18-21. I used the lower humidity that you listed and only hatched 4 of 19 fully developed chicks, when I opened them they was all shrink wrapped. Check the hygrometer for accuracy by using the salt water test here is the page with directions http://exoticpets.about.com/od/herpresources/ss/hygrometer.htm**

    2
    . Should I just monitor the air cell and just go by that for humidity?
    ** I would monitor the air cell and you can always dry them out by reducing the humidity closer to the end to increase the air sac size, But I dont know by the time you realize it is too big that increasing the humidity would do much good besides not letting the air sac get any bigger!)

    3. What is the lowest temperature that the bator can get to before it can cause problems?
    ** I think it depends on how long they are at the temp for I have read on here about peoples getting down to the 80s during lock down during a power outtage and they hatched fine, obviously it wasnt there long term) Mine got to 97 a few times and up to 102 but mostly stayed around 99-100**

    4. How much fluctuation can there be in temperature before it causes problems?
    **You want to try to keep it as constant as possible and most bators will steady out after the eggs have warmed. Get the bator to 99-100 then add your eggs and do not adjust the temp for at least 12-24 hours as it takes a while for the bator to warm all the eggs and balance out unless the temp goes way high on you which I have not known of them doing**

    5. How much ventilation should I have for air flow? Is it best to leave vents open and then adjust temperature & humidity accordingly so the eggs and chicks have enough fresh oxygen?
    **Most bators have two holes a little smaller than a penny straight accross from each other, leave one open for days 1-18 and then open them both for days 18-21**

    6. About spraddle legs and rough navel....what causes both of these and how can they be prevented?
    **I am not sure on the rough navel, but on the spraddle leg it is because they cant get there footing, I use the slip resistant shelf liner it is kinda spongy and has holes in it. This also helps keep the eggs from rolling as much when they start hatching and the new babies are bumping all the eggs (kinda like them rolling on carpet vs. vinyl**

    7. Is it best for the eggs to hatch onto the wire mesh or should I use the soft shelf lining that I see pictured in some people's bators?
    ** Use the slip resistant shelf liner, like I said it helps keep the eggs from rolling as easy, helps reduce spraddle leg and helps make clean up easier**
    8. Once the chicks start to hatch, is the temperature of 99.5 in the bator too high for them?
    **Nope the temp they are use to the temp of 99.5 they are use to it since it is what they incubate in. Leave the chick in the bator for at least 12-24 hours (definitely do not open the bator while any are pipped or you will definitely shrink wrap them) If you still have eggs in the bator when you remove chicks remove them thru the viewing window, and while the humidity is higher.**

    Most of what I have learned from hatching several batches this year is that it doesnt have to be perfect, dont get to stressed about it Nature isnt perfect either. The eggs get cooler than 99.5 when the hen takes a break and I am sure they get hotter than 99.5 when it is Summer and the hen is setting on them keep it as steady as possible GOOD LUCK TO YOU
     
  3. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    First of all, congrats on doing your research first! You're obviously on top of things, and it's great to hear from someone who is doing their homework. Kudos. I can't answer all your questions, but here are some thoughts:

    1&2. Humidity: Everyone has a different answer, because every situation is a little different. But what it boils down to is that most eggs will withstand a WIDE range of humidities and be just fine. Perfecting humidity helps raise hatch rates, but if you screw it up, you will probably still get some to hatch. My recommendation: Choose an approximate number and run with it for your first try. Monitor the air cell. If it looks good and you get a hatch rate you're happy with, then keep running at that humidity. If your air cells look too big or too small at lockdown and/or you have a poor hatch rate, change your humidity on the next run. Air cells should ideally fill about 1/3 of the egg at lockdown, but most birds will survive WIDE variations in this.

    3. The incubator itself could be freezing, literally, and the eggs could be fine as long as *they* don't get cold. Obviously, if the incubator were at freezing for more than a few seconds, you'd have trouble with the eggs getting chilled too. But the point is, that nearly any low temp is fine as long as it doesn't go on long enough to lower the temp of the eggs. A hen will walk off the nest for up to an hour, leaving the eggs at ambient temps, and still hatch the eggs out fine.

    4. Less fluctuation equals higher hatch rates, but the eggs can withstand a lot. In a circulated air incubator you may notice fluctuations from 98 to 102 at normal operating conditions if you have a thermometer that registers fluctuations quickly. Within that range, it's the average that matters.

    5. I run my bator with both vents open. I think, within reason, that air flow is more important that humidity. However, I live in a humid climate and don't have trouble keeping my humidity up. In a dry climate like yours you may need to close one of the vents. I would personally never run my bator without at least one open, though, because the chicks do need air.

    6. Spraddle legs are easy to prevent. It is basically just an injury similar to what you would suffer if you were suddenly forced to do the splits having never done them before in your life. It is caused by surfaces that are too slippery to walk on, and you can prevent it by making sure any surface your babies walk on is grippy and not slippy. For lockdown, I put rubber shelf liner in the bottom of the incubator to give good traction. In the brooder you should have a towel, or wood chips, or straw. Never use newspaper or a bare plastic floor, as that will cause spraddle legs. If I have to put the babies in another container briefly while cleaning or such, I make sure to put a towel or other grippy surface.

    7. Wire mesh has the advantage of allowing water to evaporate more effectively out of the trays, providing more humidity. But I just throw towels and sponges in the incubator for humidity, so this is not an issue for me. I think the rubber shelf liner is nicer for them--I worry about them injuring themselves on the sharp wire edges around the outside of the wire.

    8. Nope. 99.5 is fine. 101 is fine. 98 is fine. Remember that in the wild, they might be hatching out into any kind of weather. Anything below 98 is too low, and anything above 102 is too high, but temp is actually *less* critical during the hatch than it is during the rest of incubation. I do try to keep it on the low side of the range just because I know they are working hard and, well, I prefer to work in cooler temps. But I do still keep it around 99.

    Hope that helps. Good luck!
     
  4. peepinator

    peepinator Out Of The Brooder

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    May 30, 2010
    God's Country Idaho
    [​IMG] Oh my gosh kid-n-chickens and iamcuriosotycat, you helped me soooooo much, thanks for taking the time and answering all my questions. I have been reading like crazy on this forum, thank God it's here to help beginners like be [​IMG] Have a great day....I'm planning on starting my first batch of eggs next week since I'm headed out of town for the weekend. I'll keep you all posted when I start. I'm really excited to do this, we hatched out chicks when I was a kid and it was exciting then and it is now too!
     

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