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Space in the incubator during hatch

Two incubatorsI'm nervously gearing up for hatch #2.  The Brinsea Octagon 20 Advance Incubator seems to have done its job perfectly, never letting the interior temperature vary by more than 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit, and I got the eggs to lose just the right amount of weight.  I'm expecting a very high hatch rate...as long as I don't mess up these last two days.

Having unplugged the egg turner and raised the humidity up for hatch, the only remaining problem I foresee is the chicks killing each other.  You may recall that one of our chicks accidentally speared another in the gut during the last hatch, and I'm concerned that the cramped conditions inside our current incubator might create a repeat of that disaster.  I moved five eggs to the Brinsea Mini Advance incubator Saturday afternoon so that I had space to lay all of the eggs down flat in the bigger incubator, but even that could be a two-edged sword --- the littler incubator might let the temperature vary more for the last two days, but hopefully the mostly developed chicks can deal with a bit of variation.
Eggs in incubator
What I'm trying to decide now is whether to move yet more eggs out of the big incubator and into our faulty Little Giant incubator once they begin to pip.  I'm far from confident about my ability to control the temperature in there, but the extra space might be worth sub-optimal temperature for the last day, and during my trial on Saturday afternoon, temperatures stayed pretty steady in the styrofoam incubator.  Alternatively, I could wait until chicks hatch and then carefully transfer them to the Little Giant for the dry-down period, or I could just leave that incubator out of the mix entirely.  I'd love some advice from the hatchers among you.  Does more space trump better temperature control?  Would you put some eggs in the Little Giant or leave them all in the Brinsea workhorse?  (Am I crazy to think we might get 21 live chicks out of our 24 eggs?)

Our chicken waterer is ready to go in the brooder to keep the chicks hydrated from day 1.


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I'm far from an expert, we are on our second batch to hatch. I have read that a little crowded is better, if they are able to walk around too much theycould get allayed legs. I did remove the dry fluffy chicks every 8 hours or so which left more room. That seemed to work well. Good luck, I'll be looking forward to hearing how it turns out.
Comment by Homemade Alaska Sun May 15 12:54:58 2011

Thanks for chiming in! I'm willing to entertain any advice at this point. :-)

Now that I think about it, the situation that caused the spearing in the last hatch could have been due to the weakness of the chick doing the spearing, which in turn was probably due to the temperature extremes during incubation. If the chick had been stronger, it probably could have gotten out of its egg faster and not had to crawl all over the neighbor in the process. Maybe I'll leave the eggs in the good incubators and just take the chicks out every few hours if they don't come all at once.

Comment by anna Sun May 15 15:01:03 2011

I'm wondering if you are going vaccinate your chicks?

We try doing things organicly but sometimes things dont work out well. The first group of chickens we raised were given food w/o additives to control coccidia. The 2nd batch received medicated feed as that was only feed available. The chicks on medicated feed grew to be much healthier than the first batch.

Comment by Rita Mon May 16 06:22:09 2011
I've never had any problem with disease of any kind, so we don't vaccinate. It seems like the only things that kill our chicks are not managing to get them strong enough to pop out of the egg and survive their first day, or rats eating the in their first two weeks. Two things that can help with coccidia without vaccinating are deep bedding and, of course, our chicken waterer since it prevents the chicks from drinking infected water.
Comment by anna Mon May 16 07:26:11 2011

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