Table of Contents
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BEFORE YOU GET YOUR EGGS
Each year, we experience a number of hatching failures. Many of these failures could have been prevented. When you pick up eggs at the farm, they will have been checked in front of your eyes, so you can see that the embryos are alive and vigorous. Once they leave the farm, these new little lives are in YOUR hands. If you experience less than 50% success with your hatch, something went wrong. The eggs you pick up at the farm are alive, and the “ready-to-hatch” eggs are VERY fragile. PLEASE treat them with the respect that all living things deserve! When it comes to incubation temperatures, unfortunately, CLOSE is NOT good enough.
We make every effort to provide you with the healthiest and strongest live eggs possible. Unfortunately, we can NOT be held responsible for deaths that occur AFTER the eggs leave the farm.
The three most common causes for hatch failure in school settings are:
- Inaccurate thermometer and/or incorrect temperature inside the incubator. The temperature should be 37C-37.5C (99.0-99.5F)
- Improper transport of eggs from farm to school.
- A rapid drop in humidity inside the incubator.
In order to avoid hatching disasters please pay careful attention to the following:
1. CHECK and DOUBLE-CHECK the accuracy of your thermometer.
Inaccurate thermometers are perhaps the single most common cause of hatching failure. Do this at the start of EVERY hatching season. We have found that the small card-style thermometers are often inaccurate, and sometimes even BECOME inaccurate from one year to the next. In tests we have run on thermometers, as many as 7/10 (that's 70%!) of the thermometers we have checked are one or more degrees off. When it comes to incubation and hatching, even a single degree off can have disastrous effects.
Testing (calibrating) a thermometer:
You need a thermometer that is KNOWN to be absolutely accurate (those in the science departments of schools are often good). If you are not absolutely sure that you have an accurate thermometer, you will need at least three thermometers - if 2 out of 3 agree, you can be fairly sure that you have an accurate reading. If they are off by as little as 1 degree, you will need to keep adding thermometers until you have several that are reading EXACTLY the same.
2. DO NOT MOVE THE INCUBATOR.
We have had a number of people who are taking the incubators home at night, or for the weekend. Incubators are NOT meant to be moved around. Set the incubator up at school, away from windows, direct sunlight, and air vents. The temperatures around the incubator should be as stable as possible. Once set up, PLEASE do not move it around, and especially do not take it home or bring it to the farm when you pick up eggs.
3. MOVE Eggs carefully, and do not keep them out of the incubator for too long.
Make sure you have a warm, safe place to keep the eggs while transporting them from the farm to the school, and after you pick up your eggs, GO DIRECTLY TO SCHOOL. Do NOT dawdle. Improper transport of the eggs is the second most common cause of hatching failure.
4. MAKE SURE the water reservoirs in the incubator are NOT allowed to go dry.
This is a common cause of hatching failure. The temperature in the incubator will rise sharply when the humidity drops. Check the water reservoir EVERY day, at least once.
Please Note: Science Is... rents incubators to local schools. Generally speaking, with the exception of the small (usually yellow) globe variety, incubators rarely malfunction. We have an old Hovabator still-air incubator that we have been using intermittently for over 10 years. It was used when we bought it, and it has never needed to have any parts replaced. If something goes wrong with the hatch, it is VERY unlikely that it is the fault of the incubator, or of the people who sold, or rented it to you. BEFORE you blame the incubator, please make sure you have:
- Checked the thermometer for accuracy. It is not enough to simply make sure the thermometer gives you a the reading you expect.
- Ensured that the water reservoirs have not been allowed to dry out
- Made sure the incubator is NOT in a place where the ambient temperature changes over the course of the day.
- Ensured that the incubator did not get unplugged.
- Transported the eggs safely so they were neither chilled nor overheated during the trip from the farm's incubator to yours.
While we will make every effort to replace eggs if a hatch fails, we cannot give you more eggs if the source of the problem has not been identified and resolved.