Jeff has actually asked me to write
a post on this topic, as it’s come up in the shop a number of times
and this way I can put all my photos together in one place. There
are a number of questions and hints that many customers have about
candling eggs. There’s a lot of theories and ideas out there that
can be confusing if you haven’t candled eggs before. I know my first
attempt gave Jeff a good laugh and I saw absolutely nothing. A quick
look at Google will give you dozens of ‘perfect’ photographs with
veins and all sorts of details that are rather rare to actually see
without the perfect egg, extreme high powered candler and darken
So why didn’t I see a thing first time around… well I did what I thought you would do and put the fat end of the egg on the candler nice and straight and the whole thing looked like a normal egg does when you plop it on a candler. And this almost totally hid the air sac – which is what you are suppose to be looking for 🙂 So the ‘secret to success’ ??? Tilt the egg slightly on the candler, just abit so you aren’t hiding the air sac .
This egg has been in the incubator for 8 days and in a normal room with normal light, with the expert holding the egg (thanks Jeff – I can’t photograph and do a 2 handed job!) this is what I saw. As you can see below the slight change in angle makes a huge difference to what you can see!
And then 8 days later in darker environment – and just look at the increase in size of the air sac!
So hopefully this will assist you in the candling process. There is alot of information on the web and many many photos and so many of them look very different to what you actually see. You aren’t ‘doing it wrong’ if you don’t see veins and a heartbeat.
Ever since I first saw the Brinsea Eco Glow Brooders I’ve wondered about how to clean them and just how dirty they would get. It is true that the chickens, once they are old enough to come out from underneath them, love to sit on top of them – especially during the day. So after hatching my latest batch of chickens I took photos of the Eco Glow as I clean it (the whole process took less than 15 mins – probably extended slightly by me stopping to take the photos 🙂 The nine chickens had used the Eco Glow 20 for over 6 weeks when I removed it for cleaning (6th Nov 2015 till the 17th Dec 2015 to be exact!). So here are the cute little fluffy chickens under the Eco Glow.
And then as they got bigger on top of it …
So this is how it looked on the 17th of Dec.
So step 1 was scrap the solid waste material off the Eco Glow – the photo shows the scrap of wood I found in the garden to do this with.
As you can see this made a big difference to the amount of poo on top of the Eco Glow. Next I found a damp cloth to put on the Eco Glow to soak off the stuck poo. The photo below shows the Eco Glow after a 5 min ‘soak’ with a damp cloth – please note I said damp not dripping wet – and a quick wipe. The Eco Glow does have electronics inside that does not want to get wet!
The last two stages of the process were a more careful clean with the same damp cloth around the unit and lastly a ‘sun bathe’ to make sure it was well dried and ‘UV sterilized’. I’m a firm believer in the benefits of sunlight for cleaning. Saying that I didn’t left it out in blistering sun for hours – about 30 mins on a warm day, not a day like today where the temp is 40C+.
So the end result is that the Eco Glow looks just a clean as it did when it started.
It’s been awhile since I’ve written and I have also hatched another lot of chickens – officially my own first ever batch, not for school, not testing anything, just for myself. I want a few girls to keep the two remaining 11yr old hens at home company. So I got to do everything my way 🙂 and I did alot of what Jeff tells our customers not to. I fussed, I checked the eggs too often. I put my hydrometer in to check the incubator (only twice!) and I learnt heaps. Having the eggs at home, on my kitchen bench from the first week onwards meant that I could study all the problems along the way. The air con made the incubator use heaps of water – I was topping it up twice a day – you are warned!
So what did I learn? After opening the incubator door (to top up water or check on the eggs) the internal temperature decreases several degrees – this is fine! Mother hens get up to feed, drink and poo. So if you put your hydrometer in the incubator, initially the humidity appears to go up – it’s more humid in the incubator than outside (usually!) and you’ve also let alot of warm air out so the whole ‘closed’ incubator system has been disrupted. As the temperature climbs back to the pre set temp, the humidity seems to climb too…but if you wait, you will find it hits a peak than starts to decrease again, as the heat stabilizes and the air flow in the machine returns to normal. It can take longer than 10 minutes for the ‘normal’ humidity to re-establish itself which is why just popping a hydrometer in the incubator and taking a reading and then panicking about it is not particularly helpful.
For example on the 5th Nov 2015 when I added water and put my Aqua Pro hydro/thermometer; the humidity peaked a few minutes after it went in at 80% but 5 or so minutes later is had gone down to 60%. This isn’t the first time I’ve observed this. While the IM 12 digital auto turn incubators temperature reading said 37.5C within 10 min after I had opened the incubator and added water, the Aqua Pro took considerably longer to get there and it did eventually, but it had to climb from 21.3C in the kitchen up to the 37.5C inside the machine. Interestingly as the temp on the Aqua Pro increased (with time) the humidity eventually stabilized to 53%… comfortably in the range it should be for the first 18 days of incubating.
Aqua Pro Thermo/Hygrometer (No longer in stock)
Had I not taken the time to allow the system to stabilize I would not have realized that it was my adjustment/disruption of the system that was effecting the results. The moral of the story – if you want to use external measuring devices inside the incubator, leave them in there long enough to get a true reading 20/30 mins not 5 seconds!
Side note to the story, regardless of my fussing we hatched all 9 eggs – technically. In reality 8 of them got themselves out and are thriving and my 9th egg/chicken ‘Caesar’ who had an assisted birth is still alive (26th Nov). Also worthy of note is that the after I left the hydrometer in for its 30mins, the readings were a perfect 37.5C and 53% humidity. So Jeff scores the final point – when he told me I didn’t need to use external measuring device!
Just noticed I’ve been alittle slack with posting… but as mentioned last post it is incubation season and if you have been to shop you’ll probably have been told how busy it has been 🙂 As a result of an increase in incubator sales, I find myself giving my humidity talk.. alot! So I will attempt to write my ‘lecture’ on humidity here – please ask questions/comment if I miss something out.
We usually recommend for chook eggs you have around 50-55% humidity for the first 18 days and bump that up to 70-75% for the last 3 days of hatching. Everything you read will have slightly different percentages – how else would you sell soooooo many books on incubation? The exact number doesn’t concern me… as proved with the school chickens, you can still hatch under less than ideal conditions. My father-in-law told me when I started at the shop – if you know what you are doing, you can hatch chook eggs in a fry pan – it’s just abit easier in an incubator 🙂 Mother hens do not have hydrometers! In most incubators this means that to start with you fill up a water dish – the manufacturer has done all the calculations for you and then for the last 3 days you fill up the second water dish -or in IM machines, close the vents down to one third.
Humidity is all about surface area of water – it doesn’t matter if the water dish is 5 mm deep or 10 inches deep. If you measuring humidity and want to decrease it, decrease the surface area – cling wrap or foil works well, naturally then to increase humidity increase surface area – sponges are a great way to do this. Other suggestions include using containers like ice cubes trays which allow you more precisely control the surface area of water.
In normal circumstances you will need to check and top up the water about every second or third day. If you find yourself constantly filling up the water dish, consider putting a dish of water outside the incubator to boost the humidity of the air going into it – if the air going in is very dry it will use more water. It also goes without saying that the water you use to top up your incubator should be ‘blood temp’ – just like a babies bath, so the incubator doesn’t have to warm it up.