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  Post new topic   Reply to topic The United Peafowl Association - www.peafowl.org Forum Index » Incubation, Hatching, and Peachick care     
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lhROW
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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 12:07 am Reply with quote

I wrote last summer about my endless difficulties with the styrofoam incubator Confused

It was erratic, it had hot spots, it had cold spots, it didn't hold temperature steady, it had a ten degree temperature split between the two sides Shocked, and so on, and on and on. And even though I had installed an after-market fan, I still had troubles.

I am getting ready to try it again. I brought it in this evening, and have made a few changes to the set up. I built a small frame out of 1x2's to hold down the wire mesh floor. The wire was constantly popping up on one side or the other, which made the eggs roll around -- so I thought the frame would help hold the wire in place. It did the trick perfectly, and it looks so nice and thermally helpful that I am now thinking of putting a similar rim around the inside of the dome lid.

My daughter loaned me her collection of smooth, flat polished stones that she has been carefully sorting out of the landscape rocks in the yard. We rinsed them off, and put enough of them on the bottom of the incubator, underneath the wire, to cover about 3/4 to 7/8 of the floor space, with some air gaps in between the individual stones. My hope is that they will increase the thermal mass and stabilize the temperature.

The worst part about the styrofoam incubator (well, it's hard to say exactly what is the "worst" part -- there's so many choices), anyway, one annoying issue is that as soon as you lift the lid, you lose all the heat and humidity, and it takes a while to recover. And while it is trying to recover, it can get too hot, too cold, and oscillate fairly strongly.

So my theory is that by having the rocks, they will radiate back some of the stored heat, and the temperature will recover more smoothly and quickly. I think if I spritz them with water, they will help the humidity recover as well. (I think that's another good reason to consider lining the rim of the dome with 1x2's also -- the wood acts like a gentle humidity sponge, I bet.) I don't know if adding all the rocks will help with the hot spot/cold spot problem, but I am hoping that it will do something about that also.

Last year, I tried taping off various combinations of the vent holes, hoping to even out the temperature throughout the 'bator. Nothing worked. I am thinking now about trying to tape off the hole that the fan vents out of -- I think there would still be sufficient air exchange with all the other holes in the top & bottom -- in hopes that would lead to more recirculation. Has anyone tried that? It's about the only thing I can't remember doing last year, in terms of blocking different holes to try to fix the airflow problem, which I believe is part of the reason that I have such hot and cold places.

Last year, I thought my thermometers (or at least one of them) was/were wildly inaccurate, because the temperature readings were so incredibly far apart. When I switched the sensors, and the readings switched, I figured out the temperature difference was real, and there was nothing wrong with the thermometers. I really, really need to figure out how to even out the temperature inside, because the differences are enough to affect the development of the eggs.

I would welcome any ideas for how to improve the situation. I cannot (unfortunately) presently manage to afford one of the fancy redwood incubators. Sigh. Maybe someday Rolling Eyes (If I keep going the way I am going, I am liable to discover I have actually built one through the course of tinkering with the darned styrofoam box!)

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 9:00 am Reply with quote

Hmmmmm........ Confused So far, have NOT produced a live peachick from
an incubator except for just the last few days. When I use my old
window top Hovabator for a "hatcher" I tinker with it until the thermometer
says 96 degrees. This is because being a bit cool does no harm but
overheating IS fatal. A few years ago I suddenly had a nest full of
chicken eggs abandoned about halfway through their incubation
period by a hen who would soon have eye problems and then die.
This was on a chilly October night Shocked I plugged in that old
Hovabator hastily and some of those eggs did make it to hatch.
---------
I have a Lyon TX-7 that I found on the ground in front of Dumpster
box--well, some of one--it was missing its cord and its base but
I have had a life time of making much out of little. So I spliced a
cord onto it and found the base of a hair dryer that was a perect fit
to go under it. Several years ago I did actually get some baby chickens
using that but it was always needing more water. The clutter in my
house has eaten the old TX-7.....which may be best paperbag
----------
Now the good news Exclamation The barred rock bantam hen that had the
brush with death on April 4 (I "removed" a five foot three inch
gray rat snake from her neck) has begun setting again.
YES, That is MY kind of "incubator" run

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Peachick Grammie
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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 11:18 am Reply with quote

I just dusted off my foam incubator as well. Mine does have a fan. I use the frame of the egg turner to hold down the mesh floor and it also gives some support to eggs. The egg turner function failed a long time ago. I use tape over my vent holes to heat it up but as I fine tuned it, I leave one open for fresh air circulation.

The last time I hatched chicks in this unit was three years ago. I have learned a lot from observing the hens hatching the chicks. I am turning eggs every 12 hours. I am not obsessing too much on the opening and closing because I see the hens off the eggs for 15-20 minutes and they hatch. I think opening, turning, adding water and the temp returning to previous temp is less than 15 minutes.

I will refrain from candling eggs too often. Will candle them in 10 days to see if anything is developing.

I am hoping to hatch the eggs from my old lady hen that we had to put down yesterday. But even if those turn out not to be viable, I am going to keep the incubator going in case my white hen can't make it to the end of the hatch. She is only 3 and sitting on six eggs and I can't see a first time mom handling more than two chicks. We shall see what mother nature has in store for us!

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lhROW
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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 1:06 pm Reply with quote

Yes, one of the many blessings of hens is that they are pre-set to the perfect incubation temperature. giggle

We happen to have two particularly broody chicken hens which came from chicks in the stock tanks at Tractor Supply last spring. Unfortunately, they are still quite inexperienced. They have thus far managed to hatch one chick, which I had to rescue after what I suspect was an attack by other hooligan chickens. (It is now doing nicely -- if sadly alone -- in a stock tank in the house. And recovering from abdominal surgery to repair the war wounds.) I am reinstalling the door that I built to separate the two halves of the coop, and will see if the hens can help at least with the brooding of the eggs. The other chickens are much too rowdy to have around the eggs, though, so I have to separate the flock.

Meanwhile, AMAZING news on the incubator front -- with the addition of the flat rocks and the lumber liner, the temperature has evened out across the incubator, and it no longer seems to have hot and cold spots. :chickendance

This morning, I went ahead and taped up the one vent hole that was the exit hole for the fan, which reduced the external air flow, and seems to have significantly improved the internal air circulation. The temperature came up to where it should be, and stabilized nicely. I came home for lunch, and the max/min function shows that it has been holding perfectly all morning exactly between 99.1 and 100.0 -- nothing higher or lower. And the two sides are reading the SAME -- for the first time EVER!!! happydance

It's pretty soon to be thinking all the problems are solved, but this is the best performance I've had out of it yet, so I am cautiously optimistic!

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lhROW
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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 8:51 pm Reply with quote

Well I was looking for some info on incubator temperatures, and stumbled across this link:

http://www.poultryconnection.com/quackers/incubator/batortest.html

It's a write-up of comparison testing that someone did of a hovabator & little giant, with & without fans, measuring temperatures at various points on the inside of the bator.

I am so convinced that hens are the best! Just wish I had reliable ones... Rolling Eyes

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 10:05 pm Reply with quote

lhROW wrote:

I am so convinced that hens are the best! Just wish I had reliable ones... Rolling Eyes

Confused "Reliable ones" are rare, precious and worth their weight in gold Exclamation
In the past I did have some of those but right now that bearded barred rock
bantam that had the close call with the snake is my ONLY working chicken.
The red hand biter that worked for me last year seems to be on strike.
Which brings me to another problem.....my chicken population has shrunk
since the 2008 Mother's Day tornado. No chickens were killed by that but
I have been too busy repairing things to produce replacements for those
who die of natural causes Confused
Malpo, the peahen that incubated last year has NOT yet driven away that
fancy son of hers even though he is taller than she is. There may come a
time when she will need help from me to get rid of him

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lhROW
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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 10:28 pm Reply with quote

We just came back in from trying to figure out what under the two hens needed to be saved, and what needed to be disposed of, to make room for some pea eggs and some chicken eggs I have coming.
The white hen let me check her eggs -- she wasn't happy about it, but she put up with it. There was a wide assortment of stuff, from a long-expired chick that never hatched Shocked to freshly laid eggs. (Boy am I glad I pulled a couple of them out of there!)

Then I went to check the eggs under the gray cochin banty hen. I know she has loads of them under her, because she left the nest for maybe a minute yesterday when I was working in the coop. She dashed outside and dashed back. There's a whole lot of eggs, mostly banty-sized, but some full-sized, in the hole she has dug out for a nest. Since it's easier to candle after dark, I thought I would wait till this evening, though the chicken eggs are certainly a breeze compared to pea eggs anytime! Laughing

So I tried to get at the eggs to check them. And I failed.

I don't think retrieving eggs from under that banty hen is going to be accomplished without thick leather gloves. Madam does not wish to be disturbed... and she is definitely quick to nip! Rolling Eyes

I suspect that is how she has managed to amass so many eggs, while the hooligan cannibals riot through the pen.

I guess I will just have to figure out how to get her off long enough to stuff some new eggs under her. I was going to check to see what was still viable in the batch she's been sitting, before I swapped anything out. But it may have to be a multi-step process, since she does not seem particularly cooperative at the moment. But she is definitely a good sitter -- not to mention a rapidly improving biter! Laughing I can't figure out why she doesn't have live chicks already...

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Peachick Grammie
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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 2:15 pm Reply with quote

I have a little basket to gather the eggs when I have a chance and I candle them in my closet. LOL Hoping for a 4 hatch on Mother's Day!

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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 10:04 pm Reply with quote

Back when I was a small child with tender hands (around 1950) I would
gather eggs from under wickedly strong hand biters by holding a tall
juice can so that the hen's head and neck were lost in it Idea
but thirty years in the Martial Arts toughened my hands and/or
made me able to ignore painful little distractions most of the time Confused
Besides it takes some wicked pecking, pinching and twisting skin for
the pain to become greater than other pains in my body :wow
The bearded barred rock bantam is a calm natured bird considering
that her father is that evil bantam rooster who pays for my great
efforts to repair his orthopedic problem by flogging my feet and
ankles gaah "NO good deed goes unpunished" Laughing
My eight by twelve foot chicken coop now has more nests than hens
as I wait for somebody to get interested in incubating. (my working
bantam is in private pen). Plenty of chicken eggs are being layed.
I wonder if those are fertile. The beautiful rooster I put with the
hens is more interested in figuring out how to attack me without
getting his spurs tangled in the net I carry than in the hens Confused
I need to find that recycled Lyon TX-7 Rolling Eyes

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Peachick Grammie
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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 4:20 pm Reply with quote

I used a suggestion that I found somewhere in this forum about putting stones in the incubator. I am finding that it is working very well to not only keep the screen in place but apparently they do help stabilize the temperature and the humidity.

This is in a Hoba vator styrofoam with fan model. I am using digital thermometer with humidity reading that I got at Lowes. Big numbers!

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lhROW
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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 7:44 pm Reply with quote

Yes, I am amazed at how much more stable the temperature is with the stones in the bottom. Very Happy They seem to even out the temperature, and also, the temperature recovers much more quickly, and doesn't dip so low when the lid comes off for water & turning. I have the stones underneath the mesh bottom in mine.

The humidity is staying much more even too, and much higher than last year, but I don't know if that is from the stones (which are fairly non-porous) or from the wood frame that I made to hold the wire mesh in place.

I think the wood may be acting like a sponge, soaking up the moisture and then releasing it when it dips from opening the 'bator.

I'm still having a problem with the temperature drift... I've been reading, and that may be an inherent problem with the Little Giant. It'll be stable for a day or two, then start creeping up, or creeping down, and eventually end up a couple of degrees off, even when the house temperature is staying within a degree. There's no clear pattern to it, it just kinda drifts out. Really frustrating and worrisome.

But overall, much better temperature & humidity control compared to last year Cool

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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 12:50 pm Reply with quote

Does anyone remember the temperature for hatching? I remember last year someone telling me that I needed to decrease the temperature around the time of the hatch but I forgot what to decrease it to.

I have a hova-bator 1602N
This is what it looks like:
http://i.ytimg.com/vi/WEgZf8v9jVQ/0.jpg
I keep it at 100 deg. and have it on the floor in the guest bedroom and it never changes its temperature unless if I were to change the temperature. It doesn't have a fan and it uses a heating waffer. I love it so much I got a second one of the same model for hatching out eggs. About once a week I have to re-fill the plastic tray. This is only my 3rd or 4th year incubating but last year I tried out turning the eggs more than twice a day and I hatched out my first peachick so now I try to turn the eggs about five times a day. I don't have an automatic turner so I hand turn all my eggs. When I open the incubator I crack open the lid just a bit so I can reach one hand in to turn the eggs. Really the temp barely drops though.

Yesterday I candled all six eggs and every one of them is looking really good. I am seeing veins and the small peachick inside! I am keeping my fingers crossed that all of them will hatch out well. Last year's peachick had to be helped out of his shell because he was hatching the wrong way. I hope that doesn't happen again. The peahens certainly have less problems that is for sure, although my peahens seem to be accidently breaking at least one of the eggs they sit on.
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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 8:50 pm Reply with quote

My own old Hova-Bator is plugged in and seems to still be functioning. Its
original thermometer went bad several years ago and was replaced with a
brooder thermometer. It says 96 degrees which is good for the final few
days of incubation. There four eggs under the bearded barred rock bantam.
The oldest of those eggs was put there on May 7 and that one was alive
when candled. This egg is from a four year old green spalding named Pee Wee
and she has NOT produced another egg this year. There were a few eggs from
her last year but none hatched. She is with Flash who is the father of Malpo's
many fine offspring so I am interested in what color the peachick will be....
that is IF it survives :egg

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