Eggs are set, the power has already gone out twice, and the incubator is having a fit! What better time to start learning?! As the season progresses, I hope to share some of the things we have learned this year about what to do, and of course what not to do... as well as hopefully help troubleshoot some of the grey areas in egg hatching with 'desktop' incubators.
Still Air Incubator:
This year we decided to go a different route for incubating eggs (being that we are down to our buttercups, and they are non-setters). Like a lot of folks out there, we really didn't want to spend an extraordinary amount of money on a cabinet incubator.. making one seemed to time consuming... and heck the feed store had some on sale for 50% off!
PROBLEM #1: Not really a problem if you are like 99% of the population and live in a normal, fully insulated house. Which we do not. The egg incubator only maintains its optimal temperature if the air surrounding the unit is a stable 60 degrees or higher.
Wrap the unit with very thick towels around the bottom, one single towel draped over the top, and inside the unit, under the wire, we filled the water channels with smooth sterilized glass stones. So far the unit has been running at optimal temps., and has a much faster recovery time if the top of the incubator is opened during candling.
PROBLEM #2 While the glass appeared to help maintain temperatures, humidity was still an issue.. water added spiked the humidity, then it quickly evaporated leaving the incubator dangerously too 'dry.'
We cut sponges to fit inside the channels under the egg turner, and that seemed to help, except that they tended to smell like mold/mildew, and needed to be replaced frequently ...
PROBLEM #3 After encountering the first two problems, our eggs never finished developing past the second candle date on the 14th day. So we set up another batch... an egg became 'stinky' and botched the hatch. We cleaned the incubator, and set up another batch.. this time five eggs became 'stinky' and ruined the hatch. THEN temperatures outside became unfavorable (keep in mind we don't have air conditioning), so at this point our hatch year was cancelled due to our inability to operate a crumby incubator
We have purchased a different variety of heritage poultry that WILL set, we are going to attempt using broody hens next year.
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