Please help me with oxygen flow in my bator *PICS*

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Gypsy07, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How many vent holes are in a typical styro bator? And where are they?

    Here's the situation: I started incubating duck eggs just over three weeks ago and after a few days my usually reliable bator's temperature started going wonky and cooked all but 8 of my duckies. I quickly scrabbled together some cash and bought a secondhand homemade still air styro box. I'm about to go into lockdown (tomorrow) and I'm thinking about oxygen flow, as the only holes in this bator are in the lid. Up till now I wasn't too worried as I've been opening it three or four times a day to hand turn the eggs. But now it's going to be kept shut until they hatch, I'm getting rather concerned.

    I don't want to just go making holes in it without finding out a bit more, so any and all advice would be very welcome. I'm mostly interested in where the holes are on a decent styro box like the Hovabators, and also what size they are. Also interested in what's the best way to make tidy holes in styrofoam. A hot skewer?

    Here's my styro box. The temperature is controlled by a knob on the lid.
    [​IMG]

    Here's the lid. With the lights on inside, you can see the air holes lit up. They're the only holes in the whole bator:
    [​IMG]

    Here's the underside of the lid with its twin halogen bulbs. The lid just rests on top of the box btw, it's not firmly sealed down or anything:
    [​IMG]

    And here's the inside of the bator, complete with eggs and water wiggler:
    [​IMG]

    There's a large rectangular plastic tray in the bottom of the bator, but I could easily remove it and lay the eggs on the floor. Or keep them in the little grey plastic tray they're sitting in just now. Humidity is going to be jars of water, with rags in them to increase the surface area if necessary. It's been running dry for the past two weeks as the humidity was too high with added water. I got the bator set up exactly the way it is now and I didn't change a thing as the woman I bought it from said she'd used it successfully as a hatcher.

    But I'd really like some opinions and advice on the air hole situation.

    Thanks in advance!
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011
  2. tec27

    tec27 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I used a styrofoam box and cut a hole about the size of a miniature snickers bar in the side. 38 eggs hatched out of 42 so i thought it was successful. Just think about it this way. If you were to shove your head in the box with the holes it has now and close it, could you breathe for 20 some days. I put this one rectangular hole at the top of my bator so the hot air can escape. Having holes close to the eggs may be too drafty for them. Depending on the size of the holes.
     
  3. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    with the tray in place it's going to be hard to put holes down the sides... and i'm sure the tray is there to make cleaning it and sanitizing it a lot easier

    so I would add some holes (hot skewer will work fine) just above the edge of the plastic tray.. no need to worry about adding too many because if you find that you do and need to close some off it's VERY easy to do with a piece of tape.

    when you check for humidity (i know you weigh your eggs).. if you find that it's not high enough you can close off a hole here or there if need be.. extra holes also help for regulating temperature..

    for the homemade bators that I have used over the years.. my brother just put holes where ever he thought they should go.. sometimes i had to add a few.. and sometimes he put in too many.. that's where the tape came in really handy

    personally i like to have a little extra air flow at the bottom of the incubator especially in a unit that does not have a fan.. in your case though it looks like that will be a bit hard to accomplish.. which is why i suggested that the holes be just above the edge of the tray
     
  4. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    I could be wrong.. but i BELIEVE the styro bators that you buy in the store even have some holes in the bottom of the incubator.. maybe someone who has a LG or a hovabator can check on that
     
  5. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Yes, they do. I only know that because I remember reading a post where someone said they would sit their LG on top of a big pan of water to get the humidity up through the floor holes. And if floor holes are the best idea, I'd happily remove the tray thing and make a few. I was even wondering about making holes in the bottom of the styro AND in the bottom of the tray.

    A week after I bought this box, I managed to fix my original bator and I also managed to get a secondhand Octagon EX with the humidity pump. I've got other eggs in there just now which is why the duckies are still in here. But after they hatch out (IF they hatch out!) I'm hoping I won't have to use this box again except in another emergency. I just don't have the time for all the hand turning and temp monitoring and tweaking that's required. I've just about had a nervous breakdown getting the temp in this thing half way where it's supposed to be and getting my few remaining duckies this far. I'm really surprised any of them are still alive!

    Thanks for your advice.
     
  6. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:Yes, they do. I only know that because I remember reading a post where someone said they would sit their LG on top of a big pan of water to get the humidity up through the floor holes. And if floor holes are the best idea, I'd happily remove the tray thing and make a few. I was even wondering about making holes in the bottom of the styro AND in the bottom of the tray.

    A week after I bought this box, I managed to fix my original bator and I also managed to get a secondhand Octagon EX with the humidity pump. I've got other eggs in there just now which is why the duckies are still in here. But after they hatch out (IF they hatch out!) I'm hoping I won't have to use this box again except in another emergency. I just don't have the time for all the hand turning and temp monitoring and tweaking that's required. I've just about had a nervous breakdown getting the temp in this thing half way where it's supposed to be and getting my few remaining duckies this far. I'm really surprised any of them are still alive!

    Thanks for your advice.

    well.. i didn't see a fan on yours. if you're not adding a fan I would put some holes towards the bottom just for fresh air exchange since the air in an incubator without a fan is pretty stagnant.. I wouldn't worry about the chicks being exposed to drafts if the holes are small (like from a skewer) and they are not in a super cold room

    if nothing else you can use it as a hatcher only .. they don't need fans and you should be able to keep a nice high humidity in a styro box without any trouble

    also .. the easiest way to get away from all the hand turning it to put the eggs in cartons (with the bottom of each cell cut out) and just lift one side of the entire incubator then alternate to the other side to "turn" the eggs

    but yeah... regardless of what you decide it's always nice to have a spare incubator "just in case".. lol.. even if it is a temperamental beast that you want to throw against the wall because it's a royal pain to adjust it perfectly!
     
  7. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, so here's what I've done. (I took my duck eggs and put them in the dodgy bator while I got to work on this one.)

    I got a hot skewer and put ten holes in the base of the styro box:
    [​IMG]

    And I've not done it yet but I've marked where I'm going to put six holes in the plastic liner tray:
    [​IMG]

    The two sets of holes are offset from each other, and when I put the liner tray back in I'm going to raise it off the styro floor by a few millimetres. I figured that way the air coming through the liner tray and round the eggs will have a chance to heat up a bit before it gets to the eggs. That's instead of having the holes poked straight through the styrofoam and the liner tray in the exact same place and the cold air hitting the eggs straight away. I hope my reasoning is correct here!

    And like Yinepu advised, I've made loads of holes in the styrofoam aand I can tape over them if I have to.

    I should have this up and running very soon, and once it gets back up to temp I'll be putting in a few jars of water and getting the duckies back in there for lockdown. If I can't get the temps stabilised and the humidity jacked way up, I can always keep them in the dodgy bator, but I'd really rather not as it's already cooked a dozen ducks and I don't want to chance it going wonky again and doing for the rest of them.

    Does all that look like it's going to provide enough warm air? Any more advice, anyone?
     
  8. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    that should do it... is the bottom of the bator itself raised up a bit so air can get to the holes you made?.. if not you may want to put a little something under it to raise it up a just a teeny bit..
     
  9. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yup, I just thought of that when I put it all back together. I was mostly thinking about the humidity though, not the air flow. So now I've actually got it sitting up on a couple of lengths of 3x2 so there's enough room to have a tray of water under it, and hopefully that'll help to get the humidity up as high as I want it. I've just stuck my water wiggler thermometer back into it along with two cartons of water, and I'm going to give it all a couple of hours to stabilise.

    And you're right, it doesn't have a fan. It's really the most basic set up possible, and the thermostat isn't very sensitive. I've got a smart digital thermometer that stores max/min values so I can see what's been happening when I've been out, and at first it made for scary viewing! The lights don't go on till the air temp gets down to 92-94F, and then they stay on till it goes as high as 104. And the air temp continues to climb for a few minutes even after the lights go off again. I was panicking about it, but once I stuffed the thermo probe inside the water wiggler, I could see that the internal temp was only varying by half a degree or so either way, which isn't too bad...

    And thanks for the tip about tilting the whole bator to turn the eggs. I suppose that would only work with dry incubations or else the water would be all over the place. I did do a hatch earlier this year where I had eggs at three different stages in the one bator, and I had to keep turning some while others were supposed to be in 'lockdown' and the door was supposed to be kept shut. I compromised by putting the eggs in cartons like you said, so I could just tilt the cartons quickly rather than spend ages with the door open turning each egg one by one. And I kept the humidity up above 85% the whole time to minimise the risk of shrinkwrapping to the lockdown eggs from the door being opened three times a day. It worked pretty well, but the thing I did notice was that even in a fan assisted bator, there was a fair degree of thermal layering, so that the eggs tilted higher were actually a degree and a bit hotter than the eggs at the other end of the carton. I'm not sure if it was that, or the extreme humidity fluctuations, or bacteria from hatching debris building up in my bator, but the last couple of batches of eggs didn't do so well. I got about a 50% hatch rate on them, and usually I'd be expecting well above 80%. Nobody was drowned, and nobody was shrinkwrapped, but I got a high percentage of full term chicks who died without pipping internally into the air cell. I'm still not sure what caused that...
     
  10. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:can you move the thermostat closer to your heat source?.. if you can it tends to have a lot less temp swings.. also I know you can drill holes through the ceramic of certain kinds of thermostats to make them more sensitive (there is a video on it somewhere.. i'll have to look for it)

    for the water.. try deeper containers .. so lets say you are using a container that you fill to the top.. but it's shallow.. if you use one with the same surface dimensions.. . but a lot deeper.. you can have the same amount of liquid.. but more room between the surface of the water and the top edge of the container.. that way you can still have the surface area and it won't spill when you tilt the bator... tilting the bator instead of the egg cartons will also solve the problem of the thermal layers

    if the membranes were fine.. and no excess liquid in the eggs.. it would have to have been a bacterial issue or lack of oxygen.. normally it's bacterial especially if several previous hatches have been done in the same incubator
     

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