Monday, March 25, 2013

Incubating High Tech Style, I'm DONE Dinkin' Around!

So the new ReptiPro 6000 incubator has arrived, and is being tested!

It has a blue interior light so it's gonna be kind of a baby chick rave:

The old styrofoam incubators just weren't cutting it up here, and the other day while being tested the forced air 'bator started to fluctuate temperature wildly.

That did it. Time to go high-tech.

So in doing days and days of online research and picking the brains of various fellow chicken owners, the ReptiPro was clearly the incubator of choice--actually a huge Sportsman cabinet model capable of hatching out several hundred eggs at a time was the way to go, but seeing as how those start at around $700 for the cheapo model, the ReptiPro was the saner choice. Having a small cabinet model like this takes our ambient humidity out of the equation, and this unit recovers after having the door opened to correct temp & humidity very quickly.

In testing my hygrometers I discovered that my fancy digital one was low by 22 points and even the el crappo dial one was low by 5 points. Neither can be adjusted, so we took ourselves off to the store and got a new digital hygrometer, which is being calibrated now.

Each shelf can comfortably hold 16 standard size eggs, although some people I know pile a LOT more eggs on and even stack them! I think for our first whack at hatching with this thing we'll go with 32 eggs to start, a mix of standard size and bantam eggs. I'm doing a fertile egg swap with another lady here in town so we hope to have some mixed breed Wyandottes, Buttercups and Polish chicks, too.

Incubating with this 'bator calls for me changing up my incubation technique pretty radically--running a drier incubation, turning eggs 5 times a day rather than 2, continuing to open the door 5x a day for ventilation right up to hatch--no 'lockdown'--and moving just-hatched chicks to the old styro incubators to dry out and get strong before they go into the brooder box. We'll remove chicks as they hatch so that they don't raise incubator humidity too much.

This is quite a departure for me, but what I used to do does NOT work up here, so I've gotta take a leap of faith and try this!

One of last year's chicks, a Red Star named Zipper, is thinking about going broody, but I don't know what kind of mama she'd be as a first-year hen. We'll see when April 20th rolls around if we have any volunteer mamas. Chickam should be interesting if all goes well...

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