The Ultimate Staggered Hatch Experiment (In ONE syrafoam bator!)

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Nimby Chickens, Jul 8, 2011.

  1. Nimby Chickens

    Nimby Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So, I am a brave soul. I think that a lot of time we chicken people are so concerned about hatching that we vastly over think it.

    I have been told that staggered hatches are bad, the humidity is not good, etc. But I live in Florida. As I speak, the humidity outside is 100%, raining like crazy with nearly torrential downpours! Surely chicks can hatch outside in this under a momma bird! I mean, I support about 50 songbirds with feeders and my berry garden - they live just fine in the miserable heat and mugginess and they don't have a roof in most cases.

    I have one little forced air hovabator with a turner, in my closet. I do dry hatches quite successfully. Due to a human miscommunication error, I got eggs I ordered way spaced out. I got a box, then 4 days later another box, then today another box!

    So here I am undertaking a large staggered hatch for the first time. I have 73 eggs in that one tiny incubator and no hatcher to speak of.

    Timeline:

    July 1st, 9pm - I set 3 dozen eggs, Cochins, Wyandottes, and Ameraucanas

    July 4th, 1pm - I set FBCMs, EEs, Welsummers, and D'uccles

    July 8th, 10am - I set a dozen Salmon Faverolle and 3 denizli longcrower eggs.


    So I am looking at total lockdown time being over a week - 10 days total. Does anyone have advice for me or reassurance? For each hatch I was thinking of taking the eggs that need more time and putting them in plastic cartons in there so they don't get icky!
     
  2. jfulcher

    jfulcher Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 24, 2011
    Tucson, AZ 85712
    I am very interested to see how this comes out [​IMG] I am in favor of home made bators. [​IMG]
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    The eggs need to breathe. Not sure the plastic egg cartons are a good idea. Maybe you could build little boxes out of wire to keep them separated from the hatchlings. Say, put the inverted hardware cloth box over the hatching eggs.

    As far as reassurance. Remember the recommendations are usually guidelines, not absolute laws of nature. Following the guidelines exactly does not guarantee success. Failing to follow the guidelines does not guarantee failure. The guidelines are there to improve your odds of success, not to guarantee anything.

    For example, if you open the incubator during lockdown, you might shrink-wrap some chicks. I have so I know it can happen. But I did not shrink-wrap each and every chick, not even all the ones that had already pipped. But sometimes you need to do things you would rather not do.

    Or maybe look at it this way. A chicken does not get run over every time it crosses the road. But sometimes a chicken does get run over when crossing the road. So the guideline is to try to not let your chickens cross the road. Not that they will die each and every time, but they might die, so it is best not to put them in danger. A lot of people have trouble with that concept.
     
  4. Nimby Chickens

    Nimby Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm going to be candling soon! I should be able to tell in a few days on the first batch who's baking and who quit. [​IMG]
     
  5. Nimby Chickens

    Nimby Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I may try to borrow my friend's incubator to use at a hatcher! [​IMG] That would really solve all my issues, right?
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:That is exactly how people that regularly do staggered hatches do it. The only problem you might have is that the first hatch may not be over before the second group goes into lockdown. But, yes, a second incubator makes your life a lot easier.

    Good luck!
     
  7. Nimby Chickens

    Nimby Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, the borrowing incubator idea just went out the window. Friend's bator is full.

    I am seriously considering buying another incubator.
     
  8. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I did a staggered hatch quite like yours a while ago. I had fewer eggs and a longer space between hatch dates but apart from that broadly similar.

    One problem was when some were in 'lockdown' and others still needed to be turned. I had to take out my auto turner and turn some by hand while being careful not to move the others. I found hatching in egg cartons to be very helpful to stop the 'lockdown' eggs accidentally being moved around. That's just sitting them in an open carton with the bottom of the cups cut out btw, not shutting them in a carton.

    Another problem was humidity. Some got too much, some got too little. When my first batch were in 'lockdown', the humidity dropped every time I opened the bator to turn the others. I compensated a bit by keeping humidity up about 75-80%, thinking that would make it harder for the hatching ones to dry out. It worked, cause nobody got shrink wrapped and everybody who pipped managed to hatch without assistance. Then after each hatch I lowered the humidity way down for the eggs still incubating to compensate for the high humidity during the hatch. I weigh my eggs to check correct humidity loss so managed to get each batch to the correct final moisture loss for hatching, but I know that the fluctuations in humidity throughout the incubation were not ideal.

    Another problem was a lowering hatch rate with each batch of eggs. The first lot I got above 80%, the second lot was just above 50%, and the last lot was just below 50%. I wasn't sure if it was due to the humidity fluctuations I mentioned or bacterial contamination due to hand turning and hatching debris building up in the bator. I had the usual amount of early quitters and blood rings but a much higher than usual amount of fully developed chicks that just didn't hatch, or even pip internally. All the chicks that did hatch were perfectly healthy though.

    I did a big post about it at the time so if you're interested you can look back through my ramblings and you'll be able to read it.

    I think it was around the end of January/start of February this year.
     
  9. Nimby Chickens

    Nimby Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'll go have a look Gypsy, thank you. [​IMG]
     

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