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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Gilmer,TX USA
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    1,830

    Default Incubator Experts???

    I have a not so old GQF cabinet model incubator. I have gotten good hatches and lots of chicks the past 2-3 years. This year I cannot get it to throw more than a couple of chicks per set of a flat of eggs. I think I have narrowed it down to a humidity issue although it could be another issue. Anybody have a good constant-source bucket contraption for keeping the humidity up? Any other help as to what is going on?
    Mike
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Temperance, MI
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: Incubator Experts???

    When I am hatching chickens, I put a bowl of water in the bottom of the incubator, with a sponge in it. I also use an air pump for a small aquarium with a diffuser on it. This blows the air into the water, and it makes tiny bubbles through the diffuser that pop up into the air. It really gets the humidity up. To adjust it, i put a small valve on the air line (get it at a pet store). I use a cheap hygrometer to monitor the humidity.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Escanaba, Michigan
    Posts
    58

    Default Re: Incubator Experts???

    I have a not so old GQF cabinet model incubator. I have gotten good hatches and lots of chicks the past 2-3 years. This year I cannot get it to throw more than a couple of chicks per set of a flat of eggs. I think I have narrowed it down to a humidity issue although it could be another issue. Anybody have a good constant-source bucket contraption for keeping the humidity up? Any other help as to what is going on?
    Ok, my post will have a ton of questions, to help narrow down what might be going wrong.

    First I'd suggest checking the fertility of the eggs. Are they from your birds, or did you buy them? If you can spare a few, crack them open and look for the characteristic bullseye of a fertile egg. How were the eggs handled before incubation? If they were shipped, yea, that can take a toll on them, though I've gotten a 100% hatch from shipped eggs before. Do you wash them (and if yes, how so?), just brush off any dirt, or put them in the incubator in the same way they were collected? Unwashed eggs fresh from the chicken have a protective bloom of beneficial bacteria, and washing can force bad bacteria into the shell. Though an excessively dirty egg ( like with goose eggs and their Mom's muddy feets) can have bacteria issues too. Porous, poorly calcified eggs tend to have much lower hatching rates too.

    Have you performed any "eggtopsies" on eggs that failed to hatch? What did you see? Were the chicks underdeveloped, huge and swollen, etc.?

    If fertility isn't an issue, then I'd definitely look at the humidity and temperature as the next possible set of problems. Has temperature remained stable in all parts of the incubator? Could there have been a heat spike that killed most of the embryos? Are the deaths late or early in the incubation, or just plain dead in shell, meaning they are fully developed but failed to hatch.

    What humidity do you normally run? There are a lot of different practices, from dry hatches (very low humidity) to high. Whatever works for you and you get healthy chicks, than that is the technique to use. A good way to check to see if your hygrometer is working is to fill a bottle cap with table salt. Moisten it with enough water that all the salt is wet with no extra water to pour off. Should be semi solidish, just a pile of wet salt. Then, pop the salt filled cap and hygrometer in a ziplock bag, seal, and wander off for 8-12 hours. When you check it, it should read 75% humidity. You can see how far off +/- your unit is.

    As to making a humidity contraption, I'd play around with using something like a chicken waterer (like this, in a size that works for you, that you can get at any tractor supply or local feed store) as a reservoir. If you need to increase humidity, add something like sponge or cloth into the water pool to wick up water, increasing the evaporation rate by increasing surface area. I don't have a cabinet incubator (I have a Brinsea Eco 20, pretty much set and forget), so I am not sure how big your looking to make your humidity/water source.

    I hope this helps.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,119

    Default Re: Incubator Experts???

    GQF makes a nice 5 gal bucket humidifier for that incubator. The bucket sits on top, & feeds a tray on the top shelf of the incubator. The tray has some fiber pads that stand in it, & the fan blows across them. I use the same incubator for tortoise eggs.
    Dan

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Anthony, New Mexico USA
    Posts
    414

    Default Re: Incubator Experts???

    Surehatch / GOF incubator


    Mike, I am looking to purchase a medium capacity egg incubator. Please do not offer me a Surehatch / GOF incubator. I spent lots of money on one, and Surehatch / GOF is just giving me arrogant excuses.

    I invested a lot of money on the incubator and eggs, and when it started to fail, I called them, and all I got for guarantee was; "Get your tools, open it up, and hope you find the problem". They offered to refund my money, and after many weeks, I still have not gotten my money; all I have is a worthless box and a bucket full of rotten eggs.

    Get a reputable incubator that will partner up with you and your investment; not a Surehatch / GOF for sure.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,895

    Default Re: Incubator Experts???

    Humidity, in my climate at least, makes a huge difference. Of course the temperature does as well and turning as well.

    I have an old Monkey wards incubator and there is a small tray that goes in the bottom for humidity. In my climate it is not sufficient. I need about three times that. It fits in the space between the tray and the floor. I can fit jar lids in there and up the number and amount of humidity. The fertility of the chickens (or whatever poultry) also makes a difference.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Gilmer,TX USA
    Posts
    1,830

    Default Re: Incubator Experts???

    I know the eggs are fertile.
    I have been running a incubator for years....I have always gotten good hatch rates. I have run this GQF for years and know it well (its the best on the market)...I cleaned this incubator this winter completely...took the back cover off and vaced all the junk out...did I stir something up? There is a like a 9x13 (or bigger) pan up there that stays full constantly...This just baffles me.
    From what i can tell they are dieing about day 15-16....I can candle eggs in my sleep and I have never seen this before. The fertility is high....any thoughts?
    mike
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,895

    Default Re: Incubator Experts???

    Assuming humidity and temperatures are good, I'd disinfect the whole thing with bleach followed by vinegar.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Woodlawn, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    327

    Default Re: Incubator Experts???

    I am sure you have done this, but I would check and recheck your thermometer. Mine was off a couple of degrees and I did not catch it in time. Lost about half of my set. When I checked the eggs that did not hatch, they were all fertile and fully formed, but just did not hatch. I spent about $25 on a wireless thermometer with humidity built in. It seems to be very accurate. That has really helped me. Humidity is an issue, but I don't think it would cause the major losses you are experiencing unless it was way out of whack.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Mount Olive, NC
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: Incubator Experts???

    Check your wet bulb temp. GQF has a chart for suggested wet bulb temps. The dry bulb is fixed (provided your thermostat is accurate). The wafer thermostats are notorious for failing. See if your temp holds constant.

    Also, I am assuming that your cabinet incubator has a fan in it. 99.5 F is the correct temp for an incubator with a fan, hotter if it's still air. You may need the humidity pads that GQF sells to increase the surface area for your water pan. They work well, but become soiled with bacteria overgrowth and have to be discarded after a couple of hatches. I bought a humidity sensor from walmart for less than $10. I verified it's accuracy with a wet bulb and then quit using the wet bulb.

    Turn your eggs even before you put them in the inubator. I use a turner from a styrofoam incubator and just set the turner on the countertop and put the eggs in it. Also you could put them in the cabinet incubator before you turn on the head and just let the cabinet turn the eggs. I agree with the disinfection recommendation.

    If your thermostat is faulty, gqf has a great digital thermostat. Much better than the wafer type..!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Gilmer,TX USA
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    1,830

    Default Re: Incubator Experts???

    We have a dial humidity meter that is part of a thermometer in there.
    mike
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Gresham, Shawano, Wisconsin
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: Incubator Experts???

    With the early die-off it may be a bacterial problem. That's the only thing I can think since it sure sounds like you are no newb at using the incubator. Finding the source of the bacteria will be the problem. The GQF company makes an automatic humidity control unit for the cabinet incubators. Adding a big sponge to your existing water pan helps without much expense. Hope you get it figured out soon!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    New Port Richey Fl USA
    Posts
    238

    Default Re: Incubator Experts???

    Here is my latest take on incubation after many years of trial and error:

    1. Assuming your eggs are fertile, if not the first candling (5-7 days) will show clear ones.

    2. Do not turn your eggs first 3 days (common and wrong "wisdom" 24 hrs)

    3. If you use styrofoam bators I am not responsible for your hatch they are all junk.

    4. Keep your humidity at around 45-55% during incubation.

    5. Keep your temperature 99.5 - 100 F during incubation. By incubation I mean period before "lock down" for hatching which vary with the species.

    6. Make sure your thermomether is true and verified.

    7. Make sure your hygrometer is true, calibrate it with "salt method".

    7. 3 days before hatch date (depends on species) switch your eggs to dedicated hatcher (best way) if you have just one bator raise the humidity to 70% ore more, and LOWER the temperature about 2 deg F to 98 or so).

    This is very important, commercial hatcheries do that all the time.

    Using this guidance I had 90% hatch rate of healthy and strong chicks on SHIPPED EGGS.

    If you hatch shipped eggs let them "rest" 24 hrs to settle and recover their potential broken air sacks.

    8. IGNORE most of chicken board advice given mostly by people who 2 years ago did not know wheater an egg comes from chicken or a factory, with all their emotions, and positioning "methods" (stand up, flat, cartoon "method" etc. All this crap, mostly garbage is not going to make up for basic errors like deadly temperature spikes in cheap incubators and improper temp and humidity.

    9. Enjoy your drama free maximum hatch, no struggling, no helping, what was meant to hatch will hatch period.

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