Chinese "no name" Egg Incubators

Discussion in 'Poultry, Domestic Livestock, Pets, & Bees' started by Mark, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I received the following question (in the quote) via email today and I've decided where possible and appropriate I'm going to start posting more of these "email questions" here in the forum so they may be useful for others.

    The question is about no name Chinese made egg incubators sold on eBay and pertains to a post I wrote Cheap Chinese chicken egg incubators - do they work? and also a video I made (at the end of this message).

    About the temperature, it's very important the eggs are incubated at a regular temp throughout the whole incubation process. Rises and drops in temp for any extended period of time can be detrimental to egg development.

    I try to keep the temp at a constant 37.5 ºC (100 ºF) and I ensure the incubator is running and calibrated at least 24 hours before placing the eggs in so I know the temp is steady. I do this by using a commercial grade thermometre (cost about $16) off set against the units own display thermometre and I adjust the temp slowly over time until it is calibrated. From memory, for my last batch of eggs the displayed temp on the unit was 42 ºC (but it was actually operating at 37.5).
    For humidity, I do find the channels provided within the unit is fine. I'm not obsessed about humidity and I'll wait until the low humidity alarm sounds (at around 45%) before I act and place more water in the channels. Even if it falls a little lower than that I wouldn't worry too much. I'd rather it be slightly dryer than too humid because extended high humidity can produce poor hatching results.

    Having said that, humidity is important around hatching time because it makes the eggs easier for the chicks beaks to break so I ensure the humidity is around 65-70% at that time (others may say more humidity over final 3 days but 65/70 is my figures).

    If you find a water bowl works better that's fine - just ensure the little fellas don't hatch out and accidentally jump into it (if the bowl is above).

    Humidity management can become rather complex. As a backyard chicken/quail/duck enthusiast, I prefer to keep it simple as I detailed above and I've always achieved good results.

    I purchased mine from eBay here

     
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  2. Greyyowl

    Greyyowl Active Member Premium Member

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    I try to keep the temp at a constant 37.5 ºC (100 ºF)

    In relation to temperature, and humidity, as you stated, you keep it constant, my incubator drops about half a degree over the 21 days, am I able to leave it at a constant , say 37.5 degrees for the duration or do I really need to change it.

    Also, my eggs I am currently incubating are 12 days into the cycle and my egg provider gave me 12 eggs a hen gave up on after about 8-9 days. She was on again off again and he just took her eggs and gave them to me. I have put them in my incubator and 1: hope they don't infect the locals and 2: continue along their way as they are very close to mine in time and cycle.

    I have read your entry but would like these specific parts kicked around.

    Your thoughts?

    Liking the fact there is a forum to empty my head and get a reply.

    Is there any ideas for Skype in the future?
     
  3. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Greyyowl, firstly can I say I like your avatar :thumbsup:

    If your temp drops consistently by the .5 degree you say then I would adjust the temp back to the 37.5 ºC but just remember incubators can occasionally fluctuate slightly due to sudden changes in the outside temp and then readjust itself. If you are going to increase (or decrease) the temp on the incubator make small adjustments over a few hours until the right temp is reached and is stable.

    You can never be sure if hen naturally incubated eggs are OK because if the hen got off the nest for more than say 20 minutes it's likely the embryos have died (especially during colder months). Having said that, they all might still be fine and the only way you'll be able to know is at hatching time or if you "candle" the eggs and see if the chicks are developing.

    I doubt introducing the eggs to your current batch half way through the cycle will cause any problems.

    We like trying to help and more so we just like talking about all this chicken and self-sufficiency stuff :)

    You're the first to mention it but I do like the idea. At present there's no "app" which integrates into this type of forum but there are instant "chat boxes." I would say, Skype being integrated into SSC is quite possibly a feature of the not so distant future...
     
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  4. Greyyowl

    Greyyowl Active Member Premium Member

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    Incubator above brooder sans perspex.JPG
    I built this incubator box on the weekend and as you can see the incubator sits inside the top half, well aerated, and the brooder section is below, a heat lamp is wired into it and the thermostat controlling temperature is on the wall of the upper box.
    The timber front with holes will be replaced with 6mm perspex before the hatching in approx 8 days and when complete the incubator "should" be spitting out the chicks and the brooder hopefully will help develop them until sold.
    I am currently running sessions to be sure the temp is stable at about 30 degrees and will be fine tuning it over the next week.
    In relation to the stable temp during hatching in my incubator, the manual gave me the temps to use and it tells me to set the temp at 38.3, then 37.8 and finally 37.3, I am just following orders, I have the RH pretty well fine tuned, and will bump it up to approx 65% by using the wider flatter water container.
    You said you keep it at 37.5 constantly. I am asking should I do the same.
    Thanks, Joe. (The Owl
    )
    Black Butt Ovum Enhancing Specialists™.
     

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  5. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Joe, yes I think you should. Adjusting the temp during incubation is just an unnecessary risk IMHO. A mother hen doesn't adjust her body temp throughout the incubation process so why an incubator? I know this is going against manufactures directions but I've never heard of or done tapering off temp during incubation myself. The directions I got with my incubator were very average I must say.

    My incubator is pretty much the same as yours (almost identical) and I set the temp at 100 ºF (if you want to get pedantic that's 37.778 ºC) and I never change it ever right through to hatching. In my old Hova-bator incubator (USA made) I did the same, in fact, I still have the chart/instructions which clearly state keeping the incubator temp at a constant 100 ºF.

    Brooding is a different story because the the chicks need to slowly adjust to normal conditions as they develop; therefore, the temp in the brooder should be reduced each week by several degrees or have a area away from the heat lamp where the chicks can wonder and get away from the warmth for a bit.

    You've done a fantastic job at building your incubator box with a holding brooder underneath. Once you have the perspex front it will look a treat :twothumbsup: Are you planning to keep the chicks in this brooder until they are old enough or is this a brief holding brooder until they all hatch out only?
     
  6. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    ooo that's a nicely built unit Joe, very neat.

    and welcome to the forum!
     
  7. Greyyowl

    Greyyowl Active Member Premium Member

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    Thx for the rap Stevo and the welcome.
    I will upload the final product in a week or so.
    No Mark, it's a temporary brooder, they are moved on after 2 days.
    Any particular breed I get in the egg donation I keep I rear like a parrot. A spoilt house chick that the kids enjoy as well.
    From the hatch 5 weeks ago I am keeping an Australian Game hen.
    The
    Owl.
     
  8. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Right, that's a great idea. I've seen commercial incubators with a temporary brooder compartment but I never thought of making one. Also, I like how the incubator is in a box so the whole thing can be shut up and put away out of sight when not being used. ATM mine is just sitting in the shed gathering dust :rolleyes:

    I had to "Google" Australian Game hen (learn something new every day) wow that's an odd looking chicken :D It looks a bit like a wild guinea fowl - kinda cute. I find different chicken breeds really interesting.
     
  9. Greyyowl

    Greyyowl Active Member Premium Member

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    Yes it is a bit leggy, I wasn't exactly sure myself what she was when it was 2 weeks old but it's looking more & more like an Aust. Game every day.
    I seem to have a thing about boxing things up. I have a home brew set up in the box that's sitting atop the Brewbaker Box (nice title huh)that I will upload for another thread.
    One thing I am not 100% sure of though is the wattage of the heat lamp to use in the smaller run after hatch.
    Any suggestions. I have a 75 watt and 100 watt.
    The
    Owl.
    ps: thay spent the first night as single chicks last night, mum decided to sleep on the roosts. Took me back to when I walked the halls worrying about my girls 20 yr ago. More grey hairs.:ROFL:
     
  10. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yeah, it's a bit like that isn't it... :D

    I use 150 watt bulb - perhaps we should start a brooder thread... I know incubators and brooders inevitably crisscross in conversation but it won't hurt to have a separate brooder thread go here...

    And, we can keep discussing mostly incubators in this one.
     
  11. Greyyowl

    Greyyowl Active Member Premium Member

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    Went out to check the chickens and kids will sneak into bed with mum now and then.
     

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  12. Greyyowl

    Greyyowl Active Member Premium Member

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    I have finally put the finishing touches to the Incubrooder I knocked up.
    I have uploaded a sequence of pics to show the systems bits and pieces exploded and the final working unit.
    Heat is now a stable 37.7 c and the brooder is a stable 37.0c. The chick is a hen, 2 days old and will be moved on to sale by the time this is entered.
    The rest of the hatch came out fine with a 90% strike and I have the Incubrooder full of Polish, Minorca & Buff Orpington.
    I used hardwood sawdust as brooder litter due to it having a much higher flashpoint than radiata pine or shredded paper.
    Please note these are my own personal settings and choice of equipment and all chicken raisers should consult qualified, professional people in this industry for what works best for them.
    Have a great Spring/Summer with your incubators.
    The
    Owl.
     

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  13. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    A 90% hatch rate is awesome and well deserved with the your attention to detail, meticulous equipment setup, and prior preparation. I love the perspex front to the hatching brooder - does it slide up or open like a door for access? So cute being able to see right in like that and the chicks being able to look straight out :)

    Do you regulate the brooder temp some how or since it's just a holding brooder is it hard set (as you say) at 37 ºC? Well done on great incubator/brooder setup. I bet you get many years of good use out of it.
     
  14. Greyyowl

    Greyyowl Active Member Premium Member

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    The Perspex front slides up and has a step inside the runners so it can be held open while fiddling inside the brooder section.
    If you notice the thermostat system in the thumbnail pics, the sensor is feed along under the roof of the brooder sector and the controls are set on the upper right part of the cabinet. The incubator itself has its own regulator as far as heat goes.
    The temperature in the brooder can be anything from 15c to 38+, I have it set at 37c with a 2c variance and a 4c alarm trip, the thermostat I purchased is perfect and I highly recommend it, a bit of a learning curve to understand the workings of it as per instructions but a call to the seller in Sydney and a chat straightened out any dramas and it's very, very stable.
    At 5.30 am this morning, yes I am an early riser, the temp was 37c and the chick was sitting about 12" from the heat source so there was no stress at all, matter of fact it seemed like it was looking out at the sun starting to rise.
    One thing I did not mention was the sanitiser and hand wash. I keep it atop the cabinet and a quick dab of hand soap and a rinse and infection is nil. The sanitiser is used in a spray bottle after each hatch out to neutralise any germs etc.
    My only query to clear up now is relative humidity, is it better to just use the channels in the incubator to achieve it or to interfere and place containers inside it that you know will give you the 60, 40 60% required each week.
    I have suggested the site to friends who have begun incubrooding and look forward to dropping by and letting you all know how things go.
    The
    Owl.
     
  15. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Having the sanitiser handy is a really top tip and something I need to adopt because I've been a bit lazy/complacent at times and one should never be. If it was (like you have) right near the incubator it would just be an easy habit to get into after/before handling equipment and chicks etc.

    The DIY thermostat in the incubrooder would be such less hassle once setup. I presently have a manual dimmer switch to turn the heat up or down in my brooder and a standard battery operated digi thermometre (with the sender inside) - this does work well although not as automated and precise as yours.

    In regards to the humidity, whatever you're doing is obviously working but I guess over time you'll experiment with different containers as opposed to the regular channels and find the perfect solution.

    I have a feeling there's going to be a lot of people who will like to copy your design!
     
  16. Greyyowl

    Greyyowl Active Member Premium Member

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    The "kids" have all been sold or given to friends and the feed bins are chocka.
    I guess that makes me kinda self sufficient.
    Wohoo, go me.
    The
    Owl.
     
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  17. Scott Mac

    Scott Mac Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Hi Mark, I've signed up to this site due to your very helpful video of the same incubator as mine and thank you for being so helpful.
    I have had a first run of turkey eggs produce weak birds that died or I put down due to my incubator not nearly warm enough. At day 28 the first of 3 hatched and at day 31 the 3 hatched started dying and were never able to walk or drink/feed. Very disappointed in this outcome from 17 turkey eggs. I've got 12 eggs at day 15 of collection/storage and i'm determined to get it right this time.

    I've set the temp on the incubator to 39.5, as high as it seems to let me go, and with an old school glass mercury thermometer it seems to be almost 37.2. I've placed a towel on top to help reduce heat loss. how did you get yours up to 40.5? I can't seem to be allowed to do this on the same control panel as yours.

    Next i'd like to get an external digital thermometer like yours, where did you get it from?

    the next questions which aren't urgent in regards the brooderbator i'll read the other forum for, however, can the chicks be left in the incubator for 3 days, no food or water, before removing to box and then food and water?
     
  18. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Hi Scott, thanks for joining up mate and welcome to SSC.

    Sorry to hear about your turkey eggs - that's really bad luck and hopefully we can get your incubator temp calibrated.


    These incubators come factory set to max at about 39.5 so in order to get it up higher you'll need to set the Temp Max Upper Limit by following these steps:
    1. Depress set for 3 seconds
    2. Navigate with the + or - signs until you find HS
    3. Press set again
    4. Increase upper limit by using the + sign again (perhaps to about 42 degrees).
    5. Then go back to the normal temp setting and you should find it will increase past 39.5 degrees.
    There is another way to properly calibrate the temp of the incubator and that is to calibrate the base "0" factory setting by increasing or decreasing like this:
    1. Depress set for 3 seconds
    2. Navigate with the + or - signs until you find CA
    3. Press set again
    4. Calibrate the "0" setting using + or - signs ( in your case you want to increase the true reading so the temp matches the display; therefore you would go into negative - 1 or so degrees until the actual real temp matches the display reading).
    I hope the above steps make sense.


    Got mine from Jaycar Electronics very reasonably priced (about $15) and accurate to .5 degree.


    When a brood is all hatching nicely in a regular way it is best not to disturb the hatching by lifting the lid and removing chicks - they will survive 1 or two days no problem. However, if I get a few really early hatchings then I tend to remove them after they have dried out and transfer them to the brooder because it may be several days before they are all hatched out and the early ones need a drink and start eating IMHO. I just think that is practical. But I always keep in mind not to unnecessarily open the lid of the incubator as this can hurt the hatching of other eggs at a crucial time due to sudden temp and humidity drops.

    Hope this helps please let me know how you go!
     
  19. Scott Mac

    Scott Mac Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Thanks for the reply Mark. I spent all day yesterday calibrating the temp using the CA program way. Found it sat at 37.5 with -2.5 deg. I used a glass thermometer. so I think that's sorted.

    I was filling both channels of the incubator with water every day during hatching and also removed chicks at that time. That'll be ok wont it? I also heard warm water sprayed onto egg helps them hatch, my humidity, if I believe the incubator, was around 65% and I lowered temp .5 deg. Of course it was all out due to bad calibration.

    have you done turkeys before? how long till they feed and drink after you take them out?

    Anyway thanks again, i feel you've helped me iron out my mistake and will be putting the next batch of turkeys in by the end of the week. I've 13 so far in 16 days, and wait till the 21st day of collection.
     
  20. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I'm glad you managed to work it out and it isn't unusual to spend a day calibrating an incubator - I've done it a few times too! :D

    I haven't done turkeys before but for your next hatch possibly try timing your water refill to correct humidity just prior to hatching (rather than during the hatching process) and then leave the lid on until hatching time has finished - then collect the chicks and place them into the brooder. Of course, keep the incubator going for a few days after the hatching in-case there are a few late hatchings.

    No, I haven't but I'm interested in learning about them - I'll start a "Talk Turkeys" thread and ask you a few questions if you don't mind?

    I'd imagine turkey chicks would start eating and drinking pretty soon after getting to the brooder (like most poultry); however, in my experience with quail if the feed/starter crumb is too big they may not eat. I've ground the starter feed in a blender in the past to make the crumbs smaller and this worked. Also, tapping a finger in the feed and drinker to get them interested (mimicking what a mother hen does with chicks) can be helpful.
     
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