Ruining it or just Overthinking it?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Homesteadin, Mar 16, 2015.

  1. Homesteadin

    Homesteadin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First time incubating eggs - I received 9 well-packaged, shipped khaki campbell duck eggs and started incubating them after a day of resting large end up. But I'm one of those weirdo DIYers who rigged a food dehydrator instead of forking out the money for an incubator. I had heard about people particularly having success using an excalibur dehydrator for incubation, which is what i have. Except, mine only has a lowest temp setting of 105... So I have it well-ventihlated to let extra heat escape, water pans inside for humidity, rocks strategically placed as heat sinkers (since the dehydrator itself fluctuates, and it has a fan for circulation. So far it is staying around 39 degrees celsius pretty consistently. Turning them every 3 hours. Planning on doing the cooling and misting thing once a day starting on day 10, today is day 5.

    I am finding I have made several mistakes, though, that I am pretty paranoid about. A couple of times I turned the eggs without washing my hands first, not really thinking anything of it - then read about how the shells no longer have their protective bloom once incubation starts, so clean hands are very important. :/ Has anyone made that mistake as well and still had a good hatch?

    I also sprayed them a couple days in a row just for moisture because i hadn't realized my water pans had run out pretty fast one day, but one of those times of spraying I mistook the water-mixed-with-a-little-vinegar for surface cleaning spray for the pure water one. Is that bad? Sure doesn't sound good to me to think of vinegar seeping inside those eggs.

    AND finally, there were a couple times when, even though the thermometer read the right temp, a few of the eggs felt particularly warm - almost hot, and had been that way for probably 6-8 hrs. Through this I discovered there's a hot spot in the dehydrator and now have the eggs placed in such a way that they stay pretty evenly warm. And I'm rotating them when I turn them. Anyone had a temperature spike happen during incubation, and what was the outcome?
     
  2. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

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    Wow...lol Um, hand washing... I try to make sure my hands are washed before I touch the eggs....however, I am human and there has been a couple times I've done a 'shoot, I just candled and didn't wash my hands first" it happens, not often, but it happens. My last hatch was 13/16-at lockdown (plus a blood ring and an early day 5ish quitter).

    As for the vinegar, that would worry me a bit as I've done the egg in vinegar trick to remove the shell and expose the egg, however, it takes a while for the vinegar to dissolve the shell, so I don't know to what effect that might have.

    Temp spikes...depend on how high and how long it's at that temp. 103-104 and above at an extended amount of time will most likely cook the little ones. Minor spikes and higher spikes for a short amount of time usually will not compromise your hatch as it takes the eggs a while longer to cool and heat than it does the ambient temp of the air. Temps that average slightly higher than what they need to for the DURATION of the incubation will often result in early hatches and depending on how high the average is can lead to issues with the chick's developement while temps averaging a lower temp average during incubation will cause delayed hatches and the possibility with issues in the chicks.
     
  3. Homesteadin

    Homesteadin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for your insight AmyLynn. Glad I am not the only human who isn't 100% mindful of my hands being squeaky clean :) and that you have still had success hatching eggs despite that. I can't be sure how hot those eggs got, but HOPEFULLY not hot enough to cook them... I think the vinegar thing is what I'm still worrying about the most. Yet I have read about people washing eggs with a vinegar solution before incubating???
     
  4. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

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    A good share of people don't believe in washing eggs before incubating because it removes the "bloom" and theoretically makes it easier for bacteria to enter the egg. Then you have those that don't believe in a dirty egg being in the incubator because that in itself can cause bacteria...lol. They do sell products to wash the eggs in, but as I have no experience with that I can't say what is in it.
     
  5. Homesteadin

    Homesteadin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    AmyLynn, as I have continued to drop in on different forum discussions I have seen you mention dry hatching many times. Can you tell me exactly hiw you do this - what you are looking for when you check the air cells, how often you check, and how you adjust things if needed, etc. or point me to a goid reference to read up on the subject? And do you think it would be a bad idea to try this with eggs that have already been incubating with added humidity for 6 days?
     
  6. Homesteadin

    Homesteadin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    ND I just candled at 2am... couldn't wait haha! I didn't even know if I would be able to see that much since it's not even day 7 until almost 12 hrs from now, holy mackerel 7 of these little ones have seriously taken off - saw the many veins and the red middle and even saw heartbeats! What a wonder!! Boy I hope all 7 can make it all the way. Two of them are clear-ish and don't seem to be doing much at all but I see one or two veins in each of those - does that still mean death?
     
  7. Homesteadin

    Homesteadin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Anyone is welcome to help me out here by the way ;)
     
  8. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

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    I sure can. Just note I only have experience with chicken eggs. I don't know how much of a difference using dry incubation on other fowl produce. Basically, for me, it cuts the guess work out of humidity numbers because I am relying on the egg's air cells to tell me what it needs. My end of October begining of November hatch I could run completely dry. We had sufficient ambient humidity in here and my bator averaged 40% (acccording to my hygrometer) completely dry. I check the size of the air cell's for growth. I only run completely dry though if the humidity is above 25% in the bator. This hatch I am on now (going into day five this afternoon) I have needed to add a bit of water to hold the bator around 30% as we are still using the pellte stove for heat and it's a tad dry in here. At lockdown you follow standarddlockdown proceedures, stop turning eggs, raise humidity.

    I'll give you my humidity piece (a portion of something I am working on for a blog,) so you can better understand why and how and I will see if there are any guidlines for air cells in duck eggs or precendence on dry hatch in duck eggs.

    The biggest thing with these [incubator] manuals that bother me though is the humidity recommendations. How many people know why you regulate humidity as a newbie? I know I didn't. I read in a book it should be between this number and that number. I didn't know why, I just went with it. These manuals either throw out a number, (that in my opinion is usually too high) or tell you how much water to put in the wells (regardless of how much humidity that causes.)

    Ask what your humidity should be on a forum and you will undoubtedly get at least a dozen different opinions. The only thing that is widely agreed upon is that at lockdown and hatch it needs to be higher.
    Why is this?? Because different things work for different people because of various factors that these books and manuals do not take into consideration. The habits of the hatcher, the area that they are in and whether they have a dry or humid atmosphere. The quality of eggs also can play a role. Getting a definite answer is impossible and the issue of humidity can be very confusing. No one is wrong. They have just found what works for them. Some very seasoned hatchers don't even bother with monitoring humidity because they've done it so much they just know what works for them.

    So how do you make the confusing understandable? In my opinion the first step is to understand why we control the humidity. An egg needs to loose 13/14% of it's weight during incubation. This weight that it is loosing is actually moisture. Moisture leaves the eggs through the pores of the shell. As the moisture leaves, the air cell in the egg grows. This is very important because when your little chick decides it's time to hatch, he/she is going to pip into the area where the air cell should be. If that air cell is not big enough and there is too much moisture there he/she can drown. On the flip side of that if your air cells grow too big the membrane can “shrink wrap” your chick. This can suffocate them if they have not pipped, if they manage to pip they will be stuck and not be able to move to finish the job.

    That's the why of it. Now, the how of it. So how do we know how big the air cells should be? There are many egg pictorials or air cell charts out there. This is the one I use: (I'd give credit to the creator if I knew who that was.)

    [​IMG]
    I believe that there are two ways to go about knowing how to regulate your humidity so that it works for you. Pick a number from 30-50%, (the range you'll find a good majority of hatchers use for the first 17 days.) Start your incubation at that number-but monitor your air cells! Candle your eggs at days 7&14 especially. Mark the air cells with a pencil. If your air cells aren't where they need to be at these times, you still have time to regulate before going into lockdown. Compare what you are seeing to the chart. If your air cells are too small, you know that your humidity is too high. Not enough moisture has left the egg. In this case you need to lower your humidity. (How much depends on the air cell. If it's borderline small, I'd go, 10% less. If it's significantly small, I'd go dry, at least for a couple days and candle after 2 days to see the progress and make the next decision.)

    If the air cells are too big then you need to higher the humidity. This will slow down/stop air cell growth and let the development catch up with the air cell size. (Again, how much is going to depend on the discrepancy. Borderline big, raise it 10%. Significantly large, I'd say raise it TO 60% (not raise it 60% more...just up to 60% total,) for a couple days and check to see progress. If they are still growing raise it a bit more.

    By keeping track of what your percentages are, you'll have a better idea of what percentage of humidity works for you.

    The second way: start with a dry incubation if your incubator holds at least 25% when completely dry. Dry incubation is becoming more and more popular among chicken hatchers. Many people that have had not so great hatches (especially with the cheaper styrofoam incubators) have switched to the dry method and have had better results. I myself run dry when I can. (Seasons have a big impact on humidity levels and running dry. Being in Northern New York with regular below 0 temps and running a pellet stove for heat dries the ambient humidity in my home making it impossible to go completely dry in the winter.)

    If your incubator holds at least 25% dry start your incubation &..... monitor your air cells! As long as your air cells are growing at the proper rate, you don't have anything to worry about. If you find that they are growing to fast, higher it, I'd say in increments of 5-10%. Rarely should you find too small air cells doing a dry incubation, providing you aren't in a tropical region.

    What about lockdown and hatch??

    And there's another question that you are going to get a dozen different answers for. I shoot for 75% many people do prefer a 70-75% range. Many people are happy with the recommended 65% and still there are others that insist 55-60% is perfectly fine for hatching.

    More confusion.

    Here are my thoughts: Are you a meddler? If you have a chick that you feel needs assisting, (There is an awesome thread on BYC on assisted hatching and why it should only be done if you feel it's absolutely necessary and the what happens if you assist too soon.) are you willing to open the incubator to help?

    Many people have a hands off philosophy after lockdown. They will not, for any reason open that incubator until the hatch is complete. If a chick is stuck..so be it. If there are 15 chicks running around and it takes 2 days for the rest to hatch, then those chicks are in there for two days. (There is nothing wrong with their philosophy, but....)

    If you are a hands off hatcher, then you can probably successfully hatch out chicks with 60/65% humidity in your bator.

    If you are anything like me, then a higher humidity is better for you. I like to move my chicks to the brooder once they are active and bouncing off my incubator walls, thermometers the other eggs and each other. I do not leave my chicks in the bator until hatch is over. If I feel it is absolutely necessary I will assist a hatch. To properly assist a hatch you have to take things slow, help a little and replace the chick in the egg for rest and to give them a chance to finish. This constitutes opening the bator periodically. Every time you open the bator humidity slips out. Chicks need that humidity to hatch. If you are a “meddler” or someone who feels it necessary to open the bator, then naturally a higher humidity level is going to help keep adequate humidity in your bator. So take into consideration your actions and you should be able to judge a good humidity range for hatching. I personally believe you can't go wrong having extra humidity at hatch, but you most certainly can by having it too low.

    These are my thoughts and theories of humidity based on research and experience. I by no means am an expert, but I have hatched some adorable little fuzzy butts with this knowledge.


    And yes, you can switch to the dry incubation at any point (other than lockdown) and finish the inncubation, especially if your air cells are not growing as they should.

    I found this pictorial for duck eggs aiar cells (on Mink Hollow Farms site):
    [​IMG]
    I couldn't find any related articles of doing the dry incubation with duck eggs though.

    Hope this helps a bit in understanding. If you do try the dry incubation with duck eggs, let us know how it goes.
     
  9. WalnutHill

    WalnutHill Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    I've never incubated or hatched duck eggs but I've heard that you are supposed to mist some waterfowl eggs. I'd read up more on duck eggs, it would make sense that they may need slightly different care than upland fowl.
     
  10. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

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    I read that too. It referenced the fact that ducks get off the nest take a swim and come back to lay on their eggs wet. I'm interested to know if the fact that they happen to get wet while swimming really has any relevence to wether the eggs actually "need" to be misted or if that came about to keep as close as natural as can be.
     

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