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Before Incubating:
Items to Have on Hand and Checking Your Equipment

by Misty Johnson

Before you begin incubating, you should know what you're going to need and what to do with it. Here is a list of items you will need:

  • Incubator - Make sure you read the directions that come with your particular model and know how it works, that you have all the parts, and that all the parts work properly

  • Thermometer for incubator

  • Egg sanitizer - Get one that can be used to disinfect your incubator too

  • Egg boxes or trays - To keep your eggs in before you set them

  • Candler - To help you check how your incubated eggs are progressing

  • Brooder for the keets once they hatch - This can be anything from a cardboard ring to a purpose-built brooding box

  • Chick drinker - With marbles in to stop tiny keets from drowning

  • Feeder

  • Heat lamp

  • Feed

  • Floor lining for brooder box

  • Cover for brooder box

  • Thermometer for brooder box

  • Antibacterial hand soap

There are other things that can be useful, which help to make things simpler. These additional items include:

  • Lead pencil for marking your eggs - To help with turning

  • Food coloring - To help you see the water level in your incubator

  • Small disposable plastic cups or sponges - For raising humidity

  • Turkey baster - For adding water

  • Very fine grain sandpaper - For getting stubborn dirt off eggs

  • Non-powdered disposable gloves - For egg handling, to help keep your eggs sanitized

  • Cheesecloth or non-slip drawer liner - To put on the wire mesh on the bottom of the incubator to help prevent hatchling slip

  • Hygrometer or wet-bulb thermometer - To measure humidity

Just as with anything else, the unexpected will happen just when it is most inconvenient. You might have to deal with anything from a burned-out candler bulb to a broken turner motor. You may want to have extra parts and items on hand, or at least know where you can get them. Some parts, such as heating wafers and incubator fans, might need to be ordered and could take a few days to arrive. Here is our "avoiding disaster" list:

  • Candles, timer, and a box that fits over the incubator - Just in case there's a power outage

  • Extra batteries and bulbs for candler

  • Extra thermometer and hygrometer

  • Spare wicks for your wet-bulb thermometer

  • Replacement turner motor

  • Replacement heating wafer or heating element

  • Replacement fan motor

Checking your equipment

After you have a freshly cleaned and dried incubator, it's time to check the equipment. Plug in the power cord to your incubator.

1. If it's a circulated model, make sure the fan is turning and it's not making odd noises. If there's a problem, you need to replace your fan.

2. How does the wafer look? Any signs of stress or cracks? If it's more than 3 years old, it's a good idea to replace it.

3. If using a turner, plug it in to make sure it's working. Is it turning the proper direction both ways? If not, is anything in the way to keep it from turning? If your turner is broken, do you need to get a new one or do you know you will be able to turn the eggs at least 3 times per day? Clean and sanitize your turner, again taking care not to get any electrical parts wet.

4. If your thermometer is not digital, you need to make sure it is accurate. Place it and another thermometer in a cup of warm water. Do they have the same reading? Clean and sanitize your thermometer.

5. If you are using a wet-bulb hygrometer, make sure you have new wicks. A previously used wick can spread bacteria. Clean and sanitize your hygrometer to prevent dirt and mineral deposits from building up.

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