The Incubator Diaries (Part 1)

I’ve been fighting off involvement with the livestock since we arrived on the farm. After years of working weekends and bank holidays, and being called out on emergencies I left farming about 20 years ago and didn’t want to be dragged back in.

However, I’m doing a bit more as time goes on, and recently bought an incubator (as I may have mentioned last week).  The idea is that we will be able to do more with visiting kids if we have young chicks and a bit of science to offer. At the moment I’m a little lost. Compared to the industrial machines I used to work with a plastic box holding 20 eggs doesn’t seem much of a challenge. For one thing, I keep wondering where all the other eggs are and for another I’m apprehensive about what happens if the attempt is a disaster.

All I have going round in my head is a list of things that can go wrong (dirty eggs, infertile eggs, poor egg storage, too much humidity, too little humidity at the end, dead in shell, mushy chicks, unabsorbed yolk sacs…). How will I ever hold my head up again if I make a mess of it.

Yesterday I noticed that the humidity had been falling since I switched on – stabilising at 36% when it was set at 40%. Of course, when I went through everything I found I’d pressed the wrong button and set the humidity level at 20%. I set it at 45% and the pump immediately started working, with humidity shooting up to 56%. It’s stabilised at 45% overnight so all is good for now.

This is our new machine. It has automatic turning and humidifying as there are times we will be away for days at a time and automation is more reliable than the farm staff.

It currently has eggs from the Polish Bantams and the ones that lay the blue/green eggs. I’m not even sure which they are, we just kept the coloured eggs and are hoping for the best. They must have some Araucana blood in them but the previous poultry keeper was a bit of cross-breeding freak. Well, he was when it came to poultry; I can’t really comment on his personal life.

Watch this space, as they say.

8 thoughts on “The Incubator Diaries (Part 1)

  1. James Gielow

    Haha, one must have hobbies. Crossbreeding freaks included. That’s quite the rig you’ve got going there! I hadn’t realized that humidity was so important. How do hens regulate humidity in the nest?

    I used to breed leopard geckos and it was essential for their eggs, but I thought chicken eggs were a little more lax.

    1. quercuscommunity

      They lose their feathers underneath when they go broody, which must help with temperature and possibly humidity and they seem to know when to get off the nest to regulate things (the incubator has a timer setting to mimic this too!) Amazing things.

      1. James Gielow

        My silkie, Piper, is broody right now. No roosters here, but I hear/tell that silkies get that way at times. It’s been over two weeks though. I miss my little fluffball gardening assistant.

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