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A Few Questions

11/6/2013 6:11 PM

As my eggs have incubated over the past couple of weeks, a few questions have arisen.

First, as I previously mentioned, the temperature spiked after I placed the eggs in the incubator. I researched the question, but the best answer I found was a vague article mentioning  that it may be due to chick development, particularly around days 12-14. The temperature spiked after I put the eggs in, but slowly decreased back towards normal, this was mildly frustrating for a while, as it required frequent adjustments or the temperature would get way to low. The last few days, the heat has began to rise back up. (Right on schedule, according to the information I found.) I think this may be because the chicks inside the eggs put off heat of their own, which adds to the heat you are already applying.

Another issue I had been wondering about was smell. This did not turn out to be major problem most of the time. However, when an egg dies, if it is not found soon enough, it will smell. Trust me.

I also wondered how often water would need to be added to the incubator to prevent lowered humidity levels. Every 48 hours or so is frequent enough. You might be able to get by for a little longer, but it’s best not to push your luck. I keep the red vent plugs out, and this probably makes it so I have to add water more frequently than someone who kept them in.

Comments | Posted in Learnings of a First Timer By Michael Peterson

Low cost electronic thermostat for egg incubators

Low cost electronic thermostat for egg incubators

Today we are testing samples of a brand new thermostat that we hope to start selling very soon.  This thermostat provides a mid-ground between the bi-metal mechanical thermostats and the digital electronic thermostats that we sell.  Here are the specifications for this new thermostat:

  •   -110 Volt AC (Sorry no 220 Volt version yet)
  •   -Heater Indicator Light
  •   -Temperature Control Range Switch (Narrow or Wide)
  •   -Easy turn temperature adjustment shaft
  •   -Solid State Electronic Controls (No Mechanical Switching)

Probably the most unique feature of this thermostat is the Temperature Control Range Switch.  If you have ever used the Little Giant 9200 or 10200 egg incubator you will understand the value of this feature.  In order to accommodate reptiles and bird eggs you need a thermostat that will control temperatures in the 80’s for reptiles and near 99.5 for birds.  This large control range on your thermostat makes it very difficult to make small changes to your temperature.  This low cost electronic thermostat for egg incubators has a temperature control range switch with two selections (Narrow and Wide).  When the thermostat is set to Narrow the control range is very small around 99.5, this makes it very easy to make small changes to the temperature inside the incubator.  When the thermostat is set to Wide the control range is larger (around 75-110 degrees F), this allows this thermostat to be used for reptile incubation, fermentation, sprouting, yogurt making, and anything that needs a low cost electronic thermostat. 

Watch for this product to be available in the Thermostat section of our website.

Comments | Posted in Incubator Warehouse News By Incubator Warehouse Administrator

Candling

11/4/2013 6:32 PM

Today I candled my eggs for the first time. It is a little over a week into the incubation process.

First I washed my hands. I had read that this was important but wondered why. Upon looking it up, I found out that eggs are covered in tiny pores, which are vital to help the egg ‘breath’. The oils in your skin can quite easily clog these pores. After my hands were carefully cleaned, I went into a dark closet with each egg and candled them.

The candler is a small gray cylinder with several LED light bulbs, which illuminate more clearly than regular light. This is because the light is ‘cooler’ (This refers to the color of the light, not the actual heat output.) To candle, you go somewhere dark and set each egg, in turn, on top of the candler. You wrap your fingers around the point where the egg meets the light, in order to eliminate excess light. As the light shines through, the whole interior of the egg lights up. It is a very cool experience the first time you see it. You look into the egg and examine it’s contents.

At first I wondered what you look for. I found out that it is veins in the egg. Movement is also a very good sign. They move because the light irritates them, but just because they don’t move doesn’t mean they are not alive. Three of my eggs were infertile, one from each breed except Indian Runner. Many of the eggs showed a good deal of movement and development. One in particular, a Rouen, is doing especially well. It is beginning to show distinct development of head and feet, and moves a lot. The damaged duck egg I have seems to also be doing all right. I knew how to tell a fertile from an infertile egg, but I wondered about how to tell when an egg died. According to what I found, the key feature is still veins. Also, a red or orange color as opposed to a more yellow one is a very good sign. Movement, of course, is always a good indication. I plan on candling them again in a few days to see more results.

                            Fertilized Egg as Visible During Candling                                Unfertilized Egg as Visible During Candling

                              Fertilized Egg (seen when candled)                                  Unfertilized Egg (seen when candled)

Comments | Posted in Learnings of a First Timer By Michael Peterson

FAQ's About Poultry Molting

11/1/2013 12:39 PM

Have you ever checked on your chicken coop and wondered if a predator got in your coop because of all of the feathers scattered around?  You check around for holes in your poultry wire and then count your chickens and joyfully find that they are all accounted for.   So where did all of the feathers come from?

Your birds are probably molting. 

What is molting?
Molting is a natural process a bird goes through.  It normally occurs at the end of the laying cycle in the Autumn.  As the days get shorter and feeding time decreases, their natural clock tells them it’s time to take a break from the rigors of laying and replenish their feathers.  Feather production requires protein, just as egg production.  So the bird stops laying eggs in order to redirect the nutrients to the production of feathers. 

Chicken Molting

Why do they do it?
It is nature’s way to giving their bodies a rest and also of keeping their feathers of high quality. 

When do they molt?
Molting normally happens once a year in the Fall.  This is most likely to happen with birds that were hatched in the Spring and kept in natural conditions.  If they are hatched at a different time of year and given artificial light, the molting process may happen at other times.

Is there a way to speed it up?
Keeping them healthy is the best way to ensure they get through the process as efficiently as possible. 

Why does egg production stop during molting?
Egg production will stop during molting to give their bodies a break and divert nutrients to feather production.

Another Chicken Molting

How long does it last?
In most poultry, the process will last about 12 weeks.  If it take significantly longer that this, it may indicate an unhealthy bird or a poor laying bird.

Is there a way to prevent it?
No.  This is nature’s way to saying, “GIVE ME A BREAK!”

Is there a way to cause all of your birds to molt at a specific time?
There are ways to help this happen.  Usually, if a batch of birds was hatched at the same time and kept in the same conditions, they will naturally molt together.  Large egg producers have tricks to ensure this is the case and it usually has to do with causing a stressful situation for the birds. 

Is there anything I should do for my birds while they are molting?
Continue feeding them a good, healthy diet so they can finish the process and get back to laying eggs for you.

What other types of poultry molt?
All types of poultry will molt. 

 

Duck Molting

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Kip Jensen

Eggs in the Mail

10/31/2013 10:10 AM

After my Incubator was stable and ready to go, I ordered eggs. I got a variety pack with 4 types. The Khaki Campbell Duck, a extremely efficient egg laying breed, with as many as 320 eggs a year, the Indian Runner Duck, a very unusual duck that can not fly but runs or walks (hence the name), the Peking Duck, which has been bred in China for centuries specifically to eat, and is the main component in a National Dish of China, and the Rouen Duck, a very large duck that originated in France.

The order said it would send eighteen eggs plus what else they could send. This, apparently, is the way they usually place orders. They send a given number, but because eggs are very perishable, any unsold eggs have to be sent somewhere, so they just send them to people who have placed other orders. I had wondered how they would ship eggs. The company they came from was in Florida, so would they make it all the way? The box they came in was heavily lined in foam, bubble wrap, and packaging paper. Each individual egg was wrapped in more bubble wrap. I received twenty-two eggs total. I believe four to be Indian Runner Ducks, four to be Pekin, nine to be Khaki Campbell, and five to be Rouen.

One egg, one of my Khaki Campbells, came with a small crack in the shell. I put it in anyway, because when the egg was first inventoried by the company, it was marked with pen. I am interested to see how it turns out. (Even if it dies, I won’t be too frustrated, Remember, this is an extra ‘bonus’ egg they sent.) I put the eggs in the Incubator, separated based upon what breed of duck egg they are. A few hours after this, I noticed the IncuTherm™ thermometer read a temperature that was much too high. It was fluxuating between 102 and 103 degrees. I quickly turned it down, and after a few adjustments, everything seems to be going well, with a pretty stable temperature. The humidity also dropped, but only by a few points.

Comments | Posted in Learnings of a First Timer By Michael Peterson

Getting my Supplies

10/29/2013 5:09 PM

As I waited for the Incubator to arrive, another question dawned on me. ‘How long do I need to keep them in the brooder after they hatch?’ The answer is not a matter of overall time, but temperature. You start with the temerature near the temperature of the incubator (99.5 Degrees) and decrease it by 5-10 degrees each week. If, during the process, the ducklings huddle under the lamp, make it warmer. If they are staying away from the lamp and pant, the heat is too high. A table found at http://www.duckhealth.com/housmngt.html shows optimum temperatures at specific times.

After finding the answer to my question about brooding, I waited for the incubater and brooder to arrive. The shipment came in a large box. I opened it and had several questions as I went through the supplies. The first thing that stood out to me was a large red trough with twenty-eight holes in its lid. Each hole is roughly the size of a small chicken egg, and the lid angles up in the middle. I thought, ‘What in the world am I supposed to do with this?’ After reading the instructions about the feeding and watering kit, I discovered that it was a trough for them to eat from. The overall shape and size of the trough prevents them from tipping it, and spilling their food.

Feeding trough w/ waterer and feed

I also learned that, conveniently, you do not need to regulate how much they eat, they can do it themselves. I set up the incubater and fan kit and got it running. This was not to hard and the instructions were pretty clear. The next few days were kind of difficult as I could not get the incubater stable at an ideal temperature. I kept turning the heat up and down, but couldn’t get it. The humidity was also to high. I eventually figured out that if you just let it be, it will find a spot pretty close to a good temperature after a few days. Then just make the minor adjustments needed. Also, I pulled out the vent plugs, which solved the humidity problem and helped a lot with keeping the temperature stable. I had previously tried putting plastic over part of the water tray, which helped some, but didn't do as much as opening the red plugs, which worked wonders. I haven’t yet set up the brooder.

Ventilation Plugs on Top of Incubator

Comments | Posted in Learnings of a First Timer By Michael Peterson

As the fall and winter months begin to set in most people notice that their chickens don’t produce as many eggs as they do in the summer months. While there are many different possible causes, we will focus on only a couple important factors that have a large impact on egg production.

The first major factor that causes a reduction in egg production is the amount of light chickens are exposed to in a day. On average chickens require approximately 14 hours of light a day to constantly produce eggs. As fall sets in the amount of sunlight decreases every day which in turn decreases egg production. To help provide more light it is as simple as adding a light bulb to your coop. To save on energy costs we recommend using a timer to turn the light on and off in the morning and evening.  The IncubatorWarehouse.com’s Lay Light with its built in timer and energy efficient compact fluorescent bulb makes providing extra light simple and easy.

Another cause of decreased egg production is temperature. As the amount of sunlight in a day decreases so does the temperature. As the temperature decreases more of a chicken’s energy goes to keeping warm instead of egg production. It is recommended that during the colder months that egg laying birds are fed more protein to help with the increased energy required to stay warm. Some people recommend mixing in regular scratch into the food or feeding straight scratch every other day to help provide more protein.

The last major cause of decreased egg production is water supply. Due to the fact that eggs are made mostly out of water it is important to provide a fresh supply of water to egg laying birds. During the fall and winter months it is important to keep the water supply from freezing so your birds have a constant supply of water. If there is not a constantly available water supply egg production will decrease. We recommend using a heated waterer of some kind to keep the water defrosted.

There are other causes that can affect egg production but if chickens have enough light, the right kind of feed, and a fresh supply of water they should keep egg production up during the fall and winter months.

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Evan Cornia

A First Look at Incubation

10/24/2013 7:32 AM

Today I first began my research on egg incubation. I decided to start with ducks. Two questions immediately came to mind, and this is where I started. The questions were: “What do I need to do?” and “What do I need to buy?”

I started with the first question, ‘what to do’. I found some answers at http://www.wikihow.com/Hatch-a-Mallard-Duck-Egg. You basically Put them in a 98 to 99.9 degree (F) incubator at 50 to 55 percent humidity, and turn them three times a day (or more, but always an odd number of times). You do this for 24 days. On day 25, however, you decrease the temperature to 97-98 degrees (F) and increase the humidity to 70 percent. On day 28 they should hatch, and what you do next is crucial to their survival. Let them dry of most of the way, then move them to a ‘brooder’. This ‘brooder’ must be at least 6 sq. in per duckling, have hay, water, food, and a heat lamp. If they move away from the lamp, decrease the heat by moving to lamp farther away or decreasing it’s power or wattage. Do the opposite if the huddle under it. Monitor them carefully and provide for anything you think they need for best results. http://www.duckhealth.com/hatcduck.html mentions how important it is to look up your specific duck type before incubation to make sure none of the particulars (like temperature or hatch time) need to be different. It further specifies that you should be at 99.5 degrees (F) and 55% humidity. However, it said to turn the eggs four or more times a day. This contradicts my other information, which says to turn them three times a day, and to never turn them an even amount of times in a day.

Every few days, check the eggs and remove any dead eggs. This is done by holding a light up behind each egg and looking through the egg. This link http://www.metzerfarms.com/Candling.cfm has pictures of what they should look like at various stages. This egg-checking technique is called ‘candling’.

By this point I felt like I had a solid understanding of what i needed to do. So I advanced to my next question-- “What do I need?” This question was a little harder to find an answer to. I had been hoping to find an online list of everything I needed, but wasn’t able to. I looked up the selection at Incubator Warehouse. The prices were better than many competitors, and they offered a 1-year no-hassle guarantee. They had two Major Brands-- Hova Bator and Little Giant. I did some research, wondering what incubator I should buy. Many people said the Hova Bator was better, but they all specifically mentioned the model Genesis 1588, which is a little pricey. They all claimed it was worth it, but I wanted to start with something a little more basic. After further searching and utilizing the Incubator Warehouse Compare tool, I decided on the Hova Bator Ultimate Incubator and Brooder Combo Kit, which has everything you need to start, including a Feeding Kit and some instruction manuals.

Incubator/Brooder Combo Kit

Comments | Posted in Learnings of a First Timer By Michael Peterson

Common reasons why egg don’t hatch – Part 2

A few weeks ago I posted a list of common reasons why eggs sometimes don’t hatch.  I reviewed things like humidity, weak eggs and infection.  Here are four more things to consider.

Rough handling – It is becoming more and more common to have fertile eggs delivered to us through the post office.  With the availability of eggs from popular sites like ebay.com and McMurray Hatchery, it’s getting pretty simple to find just about any kind of breed you may be looking for.  But this comes at a price.  I don’t mean a price in dollars, I mean a price in hatch rate.  Many sellers are pretty good at packaging their eggs so they make the journey un-cracked, but who knows what kind of roller coaster ride they went through to make it to your doorstep.  And occasionally the post office will X-ray packages for safety reasons.  As a general rule, when an egg comes to you through the mail, you can expect the hatch rate to be lower than if they are fresh from local birds. 

Dormant too long – Nature has designed eggs to be able to lay dormant for a period of time so the mother bird has time to lay a nice clutch before starting to sit them.  But this only goes so far.  Generally, eggs that are kept safe and cool will keep just fine for seven days.  Some folks will even go 10-14 days, but this is generally considered to be too long.  After sitting dormant too long, the viability of the embryo goes way down and hatch rates will suffer.  Also, turning the eggs once a day during the dormant period is a good idea to keep the yolk from getting stuck to the shell. 

Poor egg turning – If you ever get the chance to sit and watch a mother hen on your clutch of eggs for a few hours (not many of us get the chance), you will see the hen reach under and gently rotate her eggs.  And somehow she knows just how often and how much to do it.  We replicate this practice by using an automatic egg turner or by turning the eggs by hand.  Whichever method you choose, it is very important that the eggs get rotated!  Automatic eggs turners will generally rotate the eggs six times per day.  If doing it by hand, at least three times is recommended.  More is OK, but don’t do it less! 

Bad temperature – This one is normally pretty obvious, but even so, it’s worth mentioning.  If you notice your chicks hatching early or late, chances are that it’s because the temperature is not right.  And when they are late or early, even though some may hatch, it usually a smaller number and they tend to be not as strong.  If you hatch is a little early, turn down the temperature between 0.5 and 1.0 degrees F.  If they are a little late, turn it up 0.5 to 1.0 degrees.  Something you can be sure of is that thermometers can be wrong but nature will never lie to you.  J 

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Kip Jensen

The Little Giant and HovaBator automatic egg turners work the same way, that is they both use an extremely slow turning motor (1/240 RPM to be exact)to gently rock the eggs back and forth. That means that for you to see the motor make any movement you would have to stare at it for about twenty minutes. Many customers do not realize that this is the case and assume that their turner is broken because it is hard to see any movement.

So how do you determine if your turner is working or not? The answer is simple; first make sure the turner is plugged in (sounds like common sense but it has happened before) and then check it every hour. The automatic turner completes one back and forth rotation every four hours so in one hour the turner should have completed a quarter turn and in two hours a half turn and so on. If you check the turner for several hours and it has moved than you can breathe a sigh of relief. If it has not moved over a couple of hours and you have verified that the turner was plugged in and noticed some other signs that it is not working like a grinding noise or a stinky odor coming from the motor you most likely need a replacement motor.

So your motor is defective, what do you do in the meantime while you wait for the replacement motor to arrive? First off all if you have eggs in the incubator or need to start some eggs you are going to need to temporarily turn them by hand while you wait. The easiest way to do this is to remove the defective motor from the egg turner, place all of the eggs in the turning racks, and then use your hand to take place of the motor and turn the turner linkage by hand. This allows you to not have to touch the eggs individually each time and to turn them all at once making the process quicker and a little less painless. Once the replacement motor arrives simply install it (remember to plug it in once it is installed) and let the turner turn the eggs automatically.

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Evan Cornia
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