One duck egg started pipping yesterday (really early!), but didn’t make it out of the egg. A second egg pipped this morning and we had a little duckling in the incubator by the afternoon.
Started with 19 chicken eggs in the incubator — two didn’t develop and were removed. Three eggs haven’t hatched (three of those have pipped, but haven’t really gotten anywhere since). One little guy is really weak and still in the incubator so the other little ones don’t sit and lay on him. That means we’ve got a thirteen little chickens in the brooder. And, early next week, the ducks should start hatching.
Scott and Anya candled all of the eggs tonight — of the 41 eggs, there are three that might not be developing. But all of the eggs are still in the incubator because there weren’t any obviously undeveloped eggs. If all of these eggs hatch, we’re going to have an absolute swarm of baby birds!
Scott set up one of the ESP32’s that we use as environmental sensors to monitor the incubator. There’s an audible alarm if it gets too warm or cold, but that’s only useful if you’re pretty close to the unit. We had gotten a cheap rectangular incubator from Amazon — it’s got some quirks. The display says C, but if we’ve got eggs in a box that’s 100C? They’d be cooked. The number is F, but the letter “C” follows it … there’s supposed to be a calibration menu option, but there isn’t. Worse, though — the temperature sensor is off by a few degrees. If calibration was an option, that wouldn’t be a big deal … but the only way we’re able to get the device over 97F is by taping the temperature probe up to the top of the unit.
So we’ve got an DHT11 sensor inside of the incubator and the ESP32 sends temperature and humidity readings over MQTT to OpenHAB. There are text and audio alerts if the temperature or humidity aren’t in the “good” window. This means you can be out in the yard or away from home and still know if there’s a problem (since data is stored in a database table, we can even chart out the temperature or humidity across the entire incubation period).
We also bought a larger incubator for the chicken eggs — and there’s a new ESP32 and sensor in the larger incubator.
We tried a cheap forced-air incubator from Amazon.
All of these little rectangular boxes seem to have the same design flaw: the fan and heater are in one corner of the incubator, and the hot air blows out of one side of the box. So there are really hot spots in the incubator and relatively cold spots.
Since we had a bad hatch rate (1 of 8) with the thing, we decided to get a bigger, better incubator. After researching a lot of options, we got the Farm Innovators 4250 — lots of space for eggs, a centrally located heater and fan that blow air all around, and a humidity sensor (looks to be the same DHT-11 that we use in our sensor). We’ll collect eggs and get a large batch going in a few weeks.