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#48007 - 01/30/09 01:29 PM hard boiled humidity
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1280
Loc: Canada
Some of the things I have heard about adding humidity just do not pan out in my limited hatching experience. I have hatched with humidity, without humidity and had success and failure both ways.

I asked once how the hen adds humidity and was told that the hen doesn't add humidty, but she doesn't remove it either. A heat element and fan DO remove moisture from the eggs so we add water to the incubator to compensate for overly rapid evaporation of internal egg moisture. This makes sense to me.

But the rest of my experiences do not support popular wisdom. When I added water, I had chicks drown in their shells. When I didn't add water, I've still had chicks drown in their shells. I am starting to think that rate of evaporation is heavily affected by shell density. Some of those eggs are so thick and solid and water didn't evaporate fast enough, even in a dry incubator. So wet or dry, the shell construction of an egg seems to play a much bigger role than I had first thought.

Popular wisdom says a moist incubator helps chicks not get stuck in their shells, dried in with bits of crispy membrane. Again, this has not proven true in my incubating. In a wet bator AND a dry bator I've had chicks gets stuck if they take too long to hatch. In a dry bator, if they are fairly quick about it, they get out fine without getting stuck to any drying membrane. Over time I have noticed that SPEED of hatching has a bigger impact on sticking than moisture does. Wet or dry, if a chick hangs around half hatched he will eventually get stuck in that shell.

I have heard that humidity makes the shell softer and easier for the chick to get out. Again, this has never shown to be true in my experiences. In fact I wonder what part of an eggshell is water soluble that it would begin to get mushy and soft after exposure to moisture? I just can't believe that humidity has any effect on the crunchiness or mushiness of an eggshell.

I wonder if this intense focus on humidity isn't the manufacturers way of shifting failure off their machines and onto us. Hatches fail due to OUR incompetence with humidity management, not because their incubators are faulty. We all agree that an incubator will never be as good as a hen, an incubator is guaranteed to have way more trouble hatching than a hen, I am not slamming incubators. But I am seriously questioning the intense focus on humidity.

I think this topic is one for serious scrutiny and fresh thinking. And perhaps crumpets and coffee to go along. In good humour, I await the varied and thoughtful insights of my fellow Coopers. smile

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#48008 - 01/30/09 02:39 PM Re: hard boiled humidity
CJR Online   content
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8483
Loc: Montana
Good thinking UNO. I still go for hens after a lot of investment in different small incubators and had little to show for them. Because I do not hatch a lot of eggs at a time, would LOVE to, often have the EGGS, --but then I would have lots of chicks--not for me! I like to know each chick and watch them grow--not in a BIG flock, but a number of small "families".

Setting hens conserve moisture in the eggs--best hatches, however, are often right on the ground, a grassy nest made somewhere protected. During summer hot weather, low humidity outside, with hens setting in warm houses, they may not be able to keep humidity until the hatch time--and wetting the nest a day or two before due date, can be a help to her, to keep up humidity ideal for a chick ready to hatch. Some wise people, weigh the eggs several times during incubation, and know how much humidity needs to be added and when??
Many parts of our country have just the right moisture in the earth, for perfect humidity for hatching eggs. (Pheasants, wild turkeys, Meadowlarks, other ground nesting birds--usually have great hatches--then are subject to predation, but usually have good numbers to start--their survival depends upon it! )

And Temperature? According to Janet Stromberg's "A GUIDE TO BETTER HATCHING", a hen's normal internal body temp is 107F, and when laid, the egg's temp is 104F, cools down fairly quickly unless incubation is started. Our incubator's temperature for chicken' eggs varies by still air or forced air, but is about 98 1/2-100f. Variance is allowed,just as a setting hen may get off her nest for an hour or so, at a time, and on some days, more than once!
And she sits tight the last day or two (listening to her babies in the shells) to keep humidity high, for their pipping and hatch! Mother Nature runs the show!

A hen does not warm up during incubation, but in her quasi-hibernation mode, has a drop in temp of several degrees--her eggs do not stay at 107f or 104f!!!, nor does SHE. The incubator temperature is same as hers during the 3 weeks--too much variation of the incubator isn't good, some is pefectly okay, mocking the hen's temp!

The very large cabinet incubators replecate pretty ideal incubating conditions and turn out those 1000s of chicks with little loss! Our little incubators make some people very happy--and some of us weep for unsuccessful days of waiting--checking--sometimes adjusting--I have given up--and am glad that others DO NOT! But the hen usually has all the advantages--so I lIKE my hens!! The little incubators are critisized for failures, when most could be explained--location, location, location is FIRST--other failures are often not the fault of the incubator, but the operator!! We are not as good as HENS.
And Humpty Dumpty wasn't certainly wasn't raised by a hen! Never learned Squawk! wink CJR

Is a nice cup of Tea okay?

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#48009 - 01/31/09 01:39 PM Re: hard boiled humidity
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1280
Loc: Canada
Tea would be great! smile

Of note, right now, I have 12 eggs hatching in my Hovabator. Set 14, 2 were duds, the remaining 12 are now all pipping or peeping and one has burst right out!

This was in a humidity free incubator. Our house is wood heated and by nature, dry. Yesterday, as I knew we were approaching hatch I set a plastic container with a wet cloth in to add a little moisture, to ease hatching and my worrying about it. I expected to see the little plastic windows fog up as they should when you add moisture. But they didn't. Hmmm? Is it possible for an incubator to lose its ability hold humidity? Seems odd, but maybe airtightness wears out too over time.

One thing I did notice this time, and never before, was hot spots. There was one spot in the bator where the eggs were always hotter. Even with the little fan blowing. This is a new development.

I still maintain my original (long winded) thought, that maybe we over emphasize the humidity. That we will never get it as right as a chicken. I have hatched 12 successful (fingers crossed) eggs with no humidity except a wet rag added at the last minute. Oh, CJR, you're sure a good sport for reading these dull posts of mine wink

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#48010 - 01/31/09 10:45 PM Re: hard boiled humidity
Maria Ricardo Offline
Past Moderator
Coop Keeper

Registered: 03/26/05
Posts: 434
Loc: Hawaii
Hi Uno, how do you tell that the chicks have drowned in their shells rather than some other reason for not hatching at term?

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#48011 - 02/01/09 01:43 AM Re: hard boiled humidity
Foehn Offline
Administrator
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1968
Loc: New Zealand
There is a lot of fluid around them and it is also in the air sac. You can have chickens that you know were alive, because the egg was rocking, and when they break into the air sac prior to chipping, the sac fills with the fluid and drowns them. It's pretty sad knowing they were fully formed and so close to hatching.

Sometimes too, they can get right to the point where they should chip through the sac sac membrane, and still not make it that far, because of the fluid. If you have an unhatched egg in the future, That you know was growing well, carefully break it open and you will see how wet it is.

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#48012 - 02/01/09 05:19 PM Re: hard boiled humidity
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1280
Loc: Canada
Foehn explained that very well, too much liquid inside the egg leads to a drowned chick. I had way more of this when I added humidity to my incubator.

First chicks that hatched popped right out on their own. But the last 4 needed help. They got started okay then kind of fizzled out. Once they've sat in an open shell for too long, they just plain get stuck in with dried membrane. Even with the wet cloth, the slow hatchers were still stuck in.

But the happy news is that out of 12 eggs I got 11 chicks. Pretty happy about that laugh I am puzzled over the one that died, didn't even pip. Finally went in to rescue it, perfectly formed, no blood in membrane, yolk sac absorbed, died anyway within a minute of being 'rescued'. There was no reason (that I could see) for that chick to not make it. I hate it when it ends like that! Maybe get teen dauighter to show me how to post picture.

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#48013 - 02/01/09 09:43 PM Re: hard boiled humidity
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1280
Loc: Canada
Sorry. Do not have a clue about picture posting, URLs, MBs versus Ks and all that. You'll have to take my word, so cute. One of them has the most amazing 'hair' on his head. Looks like Albert Enistein. Let's hope he turnes out as smart!

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#48014 - 02/02/09 12:31 AM Re: hard boiled humidity
Karen Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 07/20/02
Posts: 308
Loc: California
I agree with CJR it's all about "location".

Its dry where I live, dry in the house that is. Right now the humidity outside is 84%, I don't know what it is in the house, but the cracked skin by my thumb nail is starting to heal up and I hope my heels don't crack again because it hurts!! My hand lotion say's it for dry, dehydrated skin!

As long as I pay attention to the humidity level my hatches are great. I would even have hen hatches where most of the chicks needed help hatching because they were stuck to the shell!

Summer is the easiest time to hatch, we use an evaporated water cooler during the day and when it's running I have no problem because it puts a lot of moisture into the air.

I've even gone so far as to hatch in the laundry room with a vaporizer running and the doors shut so the humidity stays in the room.

When the humidity in the Brinsea is at the recommended 92 for hatching the chicks all hatch in short order.

I have 4 eggs that are ready to hatch tomorrow! so we’ll see how things go this year.

Karen
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Karen

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