In­cred­i­ble IN­CU­BA­TORS

Kim Stod­dart speaks to the ex­perts to find out how to keep your in­cu­ba­tor in tip-top con­di­tion

Your Chickens - - Feature | Kit -

If you keep even a very small num­ber of poul­try, it’s most likely that at one time or an­other the idea of hatch­ing some eggs has crossed your mind. Buy­ing in chick­ens, ducks, quails or geese can be in­cred­i­bly ex­pen­sive and, as well as the cost sav­ing im­pli­ca­tions, there is a great sat­is­fac­tion to be had for adults and chil­dren alike in home incubation.

Whether you’re plan­ning to hatch chicks from your ex­ist­ing brood, or buy­ing in fer­tile eggs for new va­ri­eties, you can’t fail to be won over by the sight of a newly hatched batch of birds. As with any and all live­stock, the nur­tur­ing in of new life onto your small­hold­ing brings with it a sense of awe and won­der. Es­pe­cially at this time of year, af­ter a seem­ingly long, dark, wet and cold win­ter, it is part of

the process of spring re­newal of which us small­hold­ers are lucky enough to play a closer part than most.

No mat­ter if you are start­ing out with a brand spank­ing new in­cu­ba­tor, or are about to dig out an older model from stor­age, there are some gen­eral main­te­nance tips worth know­ing for now, and the fu­ture, to keep it work­ing at its best.

PRE-SEA­SON CHECK

Here is some ad­vice from the in­cu­ba­tor ex­perts, Brin­sea

BE­FORE PLUG­GING IN…

Clean your in­cu­ba­tor thor­oughly. Be­ing warm and wet, they are ideal breed­ing grounds for bac­te­ria and, if they have been left with de­bris from last year, they will har­bour germs which are highly likely to dam­age your next hatch. Af­ter re­mov­ing any old shells, fluff and dirt, it is best to soak non-elec­tri­cal parts such as egg trays in a dis­in­fec­tant so­lu­tion for an hour be­fore scrub­bing clean by hand.

Clean around heaters and fans with a brush or slightly damp cloth us­ing the same dis­in­fec­tant so­lu­tion, and again, wipe with a clean damp cloth. Be very care­ful not to let wa­ter get near any elec­tri­cal parts in­clud­ing mo­tors, heaters and con­trol hous­ings. Brin­sea Incubation Dis­in­fec­tant, which is both pow­er­ful and safe, has been spe­cially for­mu­lated to kill bac­te­ria and fungi as­so­ci­ated with birds and is avail­able on their web­site.

Leave the in­cu­ba­tor parts to dry thor­oughly.

CHECK FOR RO­DENT (AND OTHER) DAM­AGE:

In­cu­ba­tors stored in garages, sheds and barns can at­tract ver­min. In par­tic­u­lar it’s im­por­tant to make sure that ca­bles and cov­ers of elec­tri­cal parts haven’t been nib­bled.

In­spect the glass ther­mome­ter (if fit­ted) for dam­age and air bub­bles in the liq­uid which will re­sult in in­ac­cu­rate tem­per­a­ture read­ings.

If other parts have been rav­aged by time or ac­ci­dents or smaller parts such as egg di­viders have been lost, re­place­ment parts can be bought from Brin­sea’s web­site.

PLUG IN!

Mon­i­tor the tem­per­a­ture. En­sure cor­rect set tem­per­a­ture (see in­struc­tions), is reached for at least an hour be­fore set­ting eggs – ide­ally leave overnight. If the tem­per­a­ture con­trol in­di­ca­tor is work­ing cor­rectly, (this is ei­ther a red light or * on the dig­i­tal dis­play next to the tem­per­a­ture), it should flash on and off in­di­cat­ing that the con­trolled tem­per­a­ture has been reached.

Check the turn­ing by ob­ser­va­tion. This can be very te­dious for in­cu­ba­tors with slow con­tin­u­ous turn­ing so place an egg in­side with a coin on top. Af­ter one hour at most the coin should have fallen off. If the turn­ing isn’t work­ing re­fer to the user in­struc­tions.

Next make sure the fan is work­ing but please do not use your fin­gers!

Where ap­pli­ca­ble, hu­mid­ity read­ers also need to be looked and, in the case of dig­i­tal sys­tems, read­ings checked for con­sis­tency. In the case of a wet bulb ther­mome­ter prod­uct, you need to check the wick is clean and the reser­voir topped up with wa­ter.

Ide­ally you want to run your in­cu­ba­tor for a few days to make sure it’s run­ning smoothly and re-check the above be­fore set­ting your eggs. For a full range of in­cu­ba­tors, re­lated equip­ment, ad­vice and fact sheets on all ar­eas of incubation see www.brin­sea.co. uk or call 0345 226 0120.

It is part of the process of spring re­newal

TOP: Make sure your in­cu­ba­tor is clean for the spring hatch LEFT: A new ar­rival

TOP RIGHT: Just hatched! ABOVE RIGHT: Do you want to ex­pand your flock? BOT­TOM: Duck­lings in par­tic­u­lar grow very quickly

PHOTO: Sharon Mack­in­tosh

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