Incubating Hard Feather
Incubation Of Modern Game Bantams
By Brad Carter
About five years ago I bought a second hand Greatlander `Classic’ T 3T Multi-Stage Incubator and I have had mixed results with it over that time. In the 2013 season, I hatched about 50% of eggs using Laucke Mill feed breeder rations. In the 2014 season I won some bags of feed from Kewpie containing breeder rations and fed it for 6 weeks before I started collecting eggs. I wanted to reduce the numbers during breeding season by breeding form my best stock. I added a mister kit in the incubator and then purchased a Greatlander All-Hatcher with a mister kit already built into it. Based on a previous conversation I have had with my father about incubation, I set the incubator on 45% humidity and with the mister kit I maintained this 45% humidity during the period of incubation. At day 17, I transferred the eggs from the incubator to the hatching basket in the hatcher and set the hatcher at 80% humidity; the eggs started to chip at the 20th day. The basket was full of chickens. On the first hatching I averaged 80% with minimum deformities and on the second hatch I averaged 90% with no deformities. In the third hatch there was a 100% of eggs hatch that were fertile. In the third hatch for example, I set 12 pile eggs which were the only pile eggs I had for the year and got 12 chickens out of it. Out of all the other colours I set, all came out perfectly and with no deformities. I don’t wish to tell you how to do it, I only wish to tell you what I did.
The hatching was all done over October and November in extreme hot and dry weather. For example some of the days were 40 degrees and higher. For extreme weather I would set the mister kit with `scheme’ water on the outside of the incubator at 55 pounds pressure, which is what I had found when I researched the town pressure. This misting helped to keep the humidity up and the temperature down reducing the chance of over-heating even on these extremely hot days. In the hatcher I had a double power point placed on the side of it, one to plug the water tray’s immersion heater and one to plug the mister into. At night I turned the immersion heater on and left the mister running at the same time. During the extreme weather I would turn the immersion heater off and leaving the mister running without opening the door. Also the rubber vents that can be taken out on the sides of the hatcher and incubator I found I pulled them out and put gaffer tape over the vent holes and I opened and closed the vents with the gaffer tape to control the temperature and humidity according to the weather conditions. In the end I got cocky with myself and went and collected all the eggs left in the yards and had sitting under hens and put in the incubator. At 17 days I put them in the hatcher and ended up with 200 chickens instead of 120, another 100% hatch. I am unsure if this was a fluke, but will try it again this year. I have tried several incubators over the years and haven’t got on with any of them, from a mini lab to an E1 and several others in between.
I find the Greatlanders very simple to use although you need to look at the front door and make sure it seals to ensure these results. I found sticking gaffer tape over the areas you could see light coming from around the seal of the door, I seemed to get a better result hatching out of it.
I have found Bob Peel from Greatlander very easy to talk to and very helpful to solve some problems over the years and I believe there are a lot of look-alike incubators but prefer to stick with the original Greatlander brand because of the help and advice I have received from Bob. I have found Bob is consistently making improvements in his product where a lot of other incubators are staying the same. I set the incubator up in a three-sided shed with one side exposed to the weather and found it very easy to control temperature and humidity with the exposure to a range of conditions. I also leave the eggs in the setting trays when I put them into the hatcher, tray and all, leaving the eggs pointy end down, over the years I have found this beneficial. I hope you may find some of this information helpful.