Hovabator Incubators

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Last year I bought a Hovabator incubator complete with automatic egg turner. I have tried three times now and all the hatches were terrible (40% or less of the candled eggs at 18 days). Some have said this brand is useless. I even bought the more expensive thermometer! I have read and read and done everything right according to the book. I have a very rare breed of chicken now and desparately need to incubate eggs next year. Help!

-- Kathy from Vancouver Is. (homefarmbc@pacificcoast.net), December 15, 2001


Kathy, I'm in the same boat as you. I've had 3 different hatches, all at about 40% or less. We've done everything by the book. We have noticed that the temp is very hard to control at around 18 days onward. It just takes off and won't stay down at 99.5. Now, isn't that what a thermostat is all about? I've been very suspicious of the thermostat and whether it can even maintain an even temp once the eggs are producing their own heat. We too went to the fancy digital thermometer, but didn't get any better hatch. I hope we get some real answers here.

-- melina b. (goatgalmjb1@hotmail.com), December 15, 2001.

That is the kind that I have used for years. I have found that you need to have more moisture than the reservoir can supply in the incubator. I mist my eggs lightly whenever I have to open it to turn the eggs. I had lousy luck with my auto egg turner. I turn my eggs by hand. Sometimes when I do that with a bunch of eggs(50 or more) it is a pain, but have had great luck that way. I keep my temp. for regular chicken eggs at about 99 to 102. Try not to ever get it over 102. Since my boys fell on my original model while they were wrestling...not a pretty sight.....I duct taped the poor thing back together and have successfully hatched eggs in it. I finally got a new one when the poor thing gave up the ghost!

Another problem....might not be the incubator. Might be that you don't have enough roosters to fertilize the eggs properly. For small banty sized chickens you need about one rooster for 8 to 10 hens. For larger heavier breeds you need at least 1 for every 5 to 7. At least I have found that to be true. I get anywhere from 75% to 95% hatching. The best time of year to get a good % is from late March to June.(At least that is a good time for OK and similar weather). I usually candle my eggs at about 3 to 5 days and if I don't see any veins by then they are not viable. When you wait until 18 days you have a fairly hard time seeing the chick for the chick.:~)!! It is getting mighty crowded in that egg by then and hard to see. Hope something in this helps...if you ever want to e-mail me with a question...I have had lots of experience using that specific incubator. Have hatched turkeys, ducks, geese, chicks, guineas, turkens, and I can't remember what all....oh quail too.

-- Nan (davidl41@ipa.net), December 15, 2001.

Oh..I have had that problem too. It starts to get hotter when they are within 3 or 4 days from hatching. That is when you really need to keep the humidity up and turn the fine tuner for the temp. down. The heater going up and down raises and lowers the temp. Ya' know that little round thing.... Just start checking it. It shouldn't go up more than a few degrees at most. If your's does, something might be wrong with your thermostat. When I replaced my first incubator, I got one from the Co-op and it was way too hot. Found out that it had been in an unheated truck to be delivered to the store and it messed up the thermostat. They ordered me a new one and it works fine. Don't ever leave your incubator where it will get really really hot or it will mess up the thermostat and it won't ever work right.

-- Nan (davidl41@ipa.net), December 15, 2001.

I have used one of these for years with pretty good success. I will have to say that I consider 80% to be very good, but have always had 50 to 60 %. Best success for me has been a "mama" hen, although that depends too. Some are good mamas, some dreadful. GL!

-- Brad (homefixer@SacoRiver.net), December 15, 2001.

I wish any of my hatches were close to 40% I have had one chick hatch out of 120 eggs. I finally figured out that those two red caps that come on the top are suppose to stay in place until three days before hatching. This is to help keep the humidity in. This spring I,m going to try it the right way and see what my hatch percentage is. Thing is I always knew in my heart that I was missing something because the chicks would develope right up until the pipping point and then die in the shell. Each time this happened 100% of the eggs would have fully developed chicks, so it was my fault.

-- george (bngcrview@aol.com), December 15, 2001.

Oh George, I know just what you mean. When I first started incubating eggs a long time ago I discovered that if I didn't keep them moist enough I had chicks stuck in their eggs. It is soooooo sad. I used to cry when I would lose one. I am older now...but still get really sad when one dies in the shell. Have to admit to being grossed out too! :~(!! OH...with all of my roosters I get very good hatch rates! My daughter and I can't resist the ones that they get at the feed store every year and we haven't gotten a hen out of the bunch in a LOOOOOOONG time. Then when it comes to getting rid of the roosters I get a lot of....BUT MOOOOOOM...you can't get rid of Red, or Spot, or Whitey , etc......

The best two things that I have learned are the humidity and getting the eggs at the right time of the year. Not when they first start to lay like crazy...wait a week or so and then gather them. You ought to have better luck then....Let me know how it works out ya'll!

-- Nan (davidl41@ipa.net), December 15, 2001.

What breed of chicken do you have? Sometimes, depending on the breed, the fertility can be low due to breed.

We didn't have great results with our styrofoam incubator. I have heard that turning by hand will often give better results than the automatic turner.

If you don't want to invest in a more expensive incubator perhaps check around for Cochin or Silkie hens to brood your eggs naturally.

Good luck.

-- Trisha-MN (coldguinea@netscape.net), December 15, 2001.

Hi all, I have great luck with my hovabator,hatch about 40 chicks each month,been doing it for over two years. I think if you are opening it to turn the eggs you are lowering the temperature. This is what I do; I take a 12 inch piece of 2 by 4 and put it under one side of the incubator in the morning and switch sides in the evening,that way the eggs get turned without opening the incubator and the temp stays constant. Daryll

-- Daryll in NW FLA (twincrk@hotmail.com), December 17, 2001.

Oh....don't forget...pointyest end down on the eggs if you are going to do that with the board thing. I don't roll each egg individually if I have a big batch. I just kinda roll my hand over them so that they all roll over half a turn. (can tell by the mark on the egg)

-- Nan (davidl41@ipa.net), December 18, 2001.

Thanks to all of you! I am going to give it one last try and take out the auto turner and try the 2X4 trick. I have Light Sussex chickens which had a hatchablity rate of 80% in the research flock at the U. of Alberta where they are from. I have 40 hens and 10 roosters so fertility shouldn't be a problem. Wish me luck!

-- Kathy from VI (homefarmbc@pacificcoast.net), December 24, 2001.

yes i was wondering everyone has said leave the plugs in till the 18th day. I have a little giant incubator with fan and auto turner and in my instructions it says to remove both my plugs and fill all the humidity rings up at the start of the incubator. It is right now the 11th day of the incubation. I was wondering if my instructions are right about taking out the plugs at the start.


-- Andy Curtis (roosterman78@tiusa.net), March 05, 2002.

I'm having good hatches with my still-air Hovabator (no turner). Regarding Andy's question. I think the red humidity caps should be left in until last couple of days. Seems they want you to remove one or two when condensation forms on window. Also, on my first batch, I removed several eggs that weren't hatched on 21st day then asked an old-timer about that. He told me that eggs hatching in last quarters of moon (3rd and 4th) can be late. On the next batch, I left eggs in for 3 extra days and hatched 100% healthy chicks. Just thought that was interesting. I think healthy eggs can handle temperature flucations, but humidity seems to be pretty critical.

-- Paul (mynameispaul@yahoo.com), March 12, 2002.

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