Sick Of Foam Incubators...

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Reyvaughn, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. Reyvaughn

    Reyvaughn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 10, 2011
    Northeast Pennsylvania
    This is a rant spurred by utter heartbreak... You have been alerted.

    I started with a LG, still air and hand turning. I sold it because my first try was with 56 eggs - they all died. I kept hearing about how great Hova-bators are, so I got one for me and the kids for Xmas - 1602N with a turner, no fan. I just started my 3rd hatch in this incubator and I am not impressed with it's previous performances.

    Firstly, I know my ambient temps are a little low. Our room stays between 68-74. It's the only room with that little variation. I have a wood stove and the rest of the house can range from 70 to 100+. I check my temps religiously - at least 5x a day, usually more. I have been having 97-102 degree ranges in the incubator and when I put the eggs into lock down, I have to turn the thermostat all the way up, wrap the incubator with a blanket and I still fight to get a temp OVER 97 degrees! I discovered the turner motor actually adds 7-10 degrees in the incubator. Since I now know that, I will be removing only the rails for the turner and leaving the motor run so I don't have chicks dying because the temps are to low on the last 3 days.

    My first hatch was okay. Three dozen eggs set and 13 hatched. Two died though. My second hatch was horrid. I set 40 eggs, 9 hatched, two died. I had 5 other eggs with fully formed chicks that never hatched thanks to the loss of heat. One pipped internally, the others never made it past rocking.

    What the heck am I to do? I am sick of losing 70-95% of my eggs! Yes, a fan would more than likely help, but geez. Other people have good hatch rates in these foam monstrosities! Even with temp issues!

    The basic info is... I incubate the first 18 days with 35-40% humidity and up it to 65% on the last 3 days. I try keeping the temp as close to 100 as I can. If I see a spike to 102, I open the top and let it cool down and adjust the thermostat as needed. If it's low, I turn the thermostat up slowly and check it every 15-20 minutes.

    I swear, I should just build myself a well insulated cabinet incubator and just get it over with.

    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  2. Coop de Grille

    Coop de Grille Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 24, 2010
    South Carolina
    I'm sorry for the losses, how heartbreaking. Maybe you got a bad Hovabator? I just bought one of those and I have not had any issues at all. My temp and humidity has stayed exactly the same since I got the right adjustment.
  3. Reyvaughn

    Reyvaughn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 10, 2011
    Northeast Pennsylvania
    I wrote to GQF with my temp issues and they are saying it's my ambient temps and user error. I personally think it could be the thermostat, but who knows. I actually do think my LG was more stable - even during a heat wave. Yeah, I had temp spikes, but only when it went from 50-80 in the house.
  4. kathyinmo

    kathyinmo Nothing In Moderation

    You need a really good thermometer. Temperature is imperative, I believe.
    I love the Brinsea Spot Check. Before that, I had dozens of those junk cheap ones. They were crap.

    I have hatched in the styrofoams and I love them. My favorite is the HovaBator Genesis. The fan does make a difference, too.

    Sorry for your bad hatches. Good luck on your future hatches.

    By the way, do you know it is easy to add a computer fan to your bator? They are easy to find, and often are free for the taking (in junk piles or even at a computer shop).
  5. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    I found keeping a log book to be very helpful.

    Your best choice of rooms is the one you have been using. THese things do fluctuate with the ambieint temps. When the outside weather changes, the room changes and then the incubator changes! LOL

    You supervise very well checking it 5 times a day. Me, too. ! LOL

    Have you read Chook CHick's heat sheet. It may provide some helpful hints that you can use for your incubator. I'm not familiar with you model as I use the LG and a homemade cooler.

    ChooksChick's Incubation Cheat-Sheet ROCKS!!!

    Where are you getting the hatchng eggs? Are they shipped??? If so, do try to find local hatching eggs and you will see an improvement in the hatching rates.

    Temperature is vital to keep steady. Repeat, vital. LOL 99.5-100 is a must. Not sue how to address you model. Play around and see what works. Perhaps make a hatcher for lockdown. Then you don't need to fuss about the motor. That must be why CHooksChick uses both incubators and hatchers.

    Hope you will try again.
  6. Reyvaughn

    Reyvaughn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 10, 2011
    Northeast Pennsylvania
    I have the normally used Acurite thermometer/hygrometer. I have noticed this thing seems to jump by two's. Meaning, if it's 97, it jumps to 99. The only time I can get it not o is when it's 99-100. Once at 100, it will jump straight to 102. It's like 98 and 101 doesn't exist.

    I am currently monitoring my incubator and instead of keeping it at 100 like the Hovabator says, I am keeping it at 99. Something else I noticed... I am hatching 85-90% males.

    Most of my eggs are shipped. This last round I tried one of my own, fresh, and it died in three days. This time I have 24-ish of my own eggs and 13 shipped eggs set. I wanted to see if it was the shipped egg issue or not. Now, I will say that out of 40 I set (well, 41 including my own egg) this last time - they were all shipped. 30 from one breeder and 10 from another off eBay eggs actually did very well! They were gathered the day of shipping and 8 of the 10 developed. They were the 5 fully developed that the 97 degree temps killed in the last 3 days. The 30 Ameraucanas, only the 6 that hatched developed (only 4 survived), the rest had blood rings or never developed at all (they were fertile). The hatch before was the 36 eggs and 13 hatched/11 survived. I had even more temp issues that round! I woke up to a 89 degree incubator on a cold, 8 degree January night. I went crazy! That was during lock down without the turner in the 'bator!

    I should keep a log. I didn't think I'd need to since I have a pretty good memory (of the bad).

    I am going to say 70% of my issue is temps the other 30% is the postal service.
  7. kathyinmo

    kathyinmo Nothing In Moderation

    They are NOT reliable. Believe me, I tried many of them. You can have a dozen of them in there, and none will be the same. Really, they are simply not made for an incubator.

    The Spot Check is accurate to within ONE TENTH of a degree. It is very reliable. AND, you only need ONE. I just can't see having so many thermometers in an incubator. One is enough.

    You do know that your temperature will vary, don't you? It will cycle up and down (like your furnace does). You have to find the high and the low, and then average them. You must do that with any thermometer you use.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  8. 2hot2chicken

    2hot2chicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 15, 2011
    Sound like you really need to address the ambient temps before trying to hatch again.....
    If you can figure out a way to keep the ambient temp stable around the bator then focus on getting the temp inside stable.
    The worst thing you can do is constantly mess with the thermostat. They are sooo touchy its ridiculous.
    Also buy a couple glass aquarium thermometers from walmart or your local pet store. Put them side by side in the bator and check them against each other to see if they are all the same. Mine were and they are different brands so I know if 3 different ones are reading the same then I can trush their accuracy. Then take them and run them one on each side and 1 in the middle of the bator. the 1 in the middle will be a degreeish lower then the ones under the heating coil.

    Also you could try puting your bator in a cardboard box wrapped in a blanket. Then when you house cools like at night, put a blanket over the top to help hold the heat in as it rises out of the bator. DO NOT SHOVE TOWELS AROUND THE BATOR IN THE BOX. This is just preventing air and o2 from flowing in under the bator. The whole point is to keep air flowing but to keep the air around the bator a more consistant temp to keep the air in the bator more consistant.

    I wish you happy hatching and good luck!
  9. Reyvaughn

    Reyvaughn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 10, 2011
    Northeast Pennsylvania
    I have a good mercury outdoor thermometer I use and it and the Acurite are within a degree of each other - that's why I still use it. I used to use 4 thermometers at one time. My good outdoor one, a cheaper, plastic version of the outdoor one with a hygrometer, the acurite and the one that came with the incubator. The Acurite was always spot on or within a degree of them all. I never knew they weren't very reliable because mine seemed to do very well. GQF said their cardboard one is one of the best to use... Yeah, sure. I use to to keep tabs on the Acurite during the first few days. Yeah, I know the temps will vary, that's why I check it so often.

    There is nothing I can do about the ambient temps, sorry. It's either a 8 degree variation in my room or a 30 degree variation in the rest of the house. I have the sun room... But that's about 10 degrees warmer than the outside and it isn't draft proof. I am set up as best at this place allows and unless I install a furnace (not likely), it's not going to change much.

    Now, the box idea is intriguing be cause I thought about building a wooden box to put my incubator in. I was going to make it large enough to later make it my cabinet incubator later, but thought it would help in the mean time to help keep the heat in.

    Thanks for all the help. I'll go and get another thermometer or two, for starters.

    * Right now, the temps are holding steady at 99
    ** Out of curiosity, I put my highly accurate meat thermometer in the incubator right beside the Acurite and it's reading 101 and the Acurite is reading 100. I think I will be checking with my meat thermometer, though.

    ETA: Also, how do you wire a computer case fan for the incubator? I have extra ones (I build computers), but I am not that smart to figure that out. Actual electric wiring is one thing I will not mess with... Normally. Nevermind! Found my answer!
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2012
  10. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    I have a spot check thermometer that I love and also a Brinsea glass thermometer.
    Those styrofoam bators are very well insulated------except for the window. I got much better temp stability with a piece of bubble wrap laid over the top.

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