A few months ago, we decided it would be the right time to start setting up for a round of hatching some new quail for egg production. Obviously, we would end up with some males as well, that would eventually graduate to freezer camp. But, that’s beside the point. Here is some info on what we did to prepare our incubator. The beginning of a few blog posts about incubating. Including the Great Quail Fail of April 2016!!!
OUR PAST USE OF THE INCUBATOR:
We use a Little Giant Still Air Incubator. Not because we love it, because it was what was available before we discovered buying stuff on the internet. On that note though, we have had some moderate success with this incubator before we modified it, and some lesser hatch rates since we have modified it. As it was, we bought two. One for an incubator, and one for a hatcher. We did this because we liked to just put eggs in the incubator as we saw fit, while others were already into the process. We would always hatch duck eggs. We would simply write the date on the egg in pencil, and put the egg into the incubator. We were using the Little Giant Automatic Egg Turner, which is a great product in my opinion. So, it was pretty simple. Plug It all in, stabilize the temp, fill the water reservoirs, and put the eggs in the turner. Add a couple of thermometers and bam, we were in business. After a few weeks, we would plug in incubator number two, which was bare bones. We would stabilize the temp, jack up the humidity in there via sponges and misting, and move the duck eggs to the “hatcher” on day 25 (duck eggs are a 28 day incubation). We would just keep this chain going. We approached quail differently though.
LITTLE GIANT STILL AIR INCUBATOR MODS:
This time, we modified the incubator. We also decided to forgo the hatcher, since we decided to just set the eggs, leave it, and only open it up on day 15 to take the eggs from the turner and put them on the screen that comes with the incubator. And, of course, jack up the humidity as mentioned above.
Water Tubes: I took some standard size fish tank air hose and cut 3 tubes to feed water into the incubator, so we didn’t need to open it any more than necessary. This didn’t turn out to be that important, but it’s still worthwhile since it is so easy to do, and cheap. Why not? So, I sealed up the bottom holes (they are there for air flow) with hot glue and a glue gun. I then drilled a hole on each side below the egg level, but on the sides to make up for that loss of air flow. You need the incubator to breathe a little. Anyway, this enabled me to put 1 tube to the outside bottom where I have sponges to hold water. Then I put 2 more tubes in, one to each of the reservoirs. I secured these with hot glue as well, but that eventually let go. They still stay in though, so…..whatever. These tubes are easily used with a small syringe or a baby nose booger sucker thingy!
A Computer Fan: I took the advice of my friend Rui from the Will Work For Liberty facebook page. He has a great video series on youtube where he is modifying incubators for quail as well as a lot of info on basic quail incubation. I bought this fan, and this controller, wired it to a power supply, and mounted it with hot glue. Be sure to get the smallest fan. I now own a big one, that I will probably never use because I didn’t pay attention. Also, the hot glue failed. So, I put it back in with Velcro. Which is also failing. Rui bolted his in. Probably a better way to go. The fan made a huge difference. Without the fan, the temperature was virtually impossible to control consistently. With the fan, it’s a breeze (see what I did there). The controller is nice, but I just turn it up all the way anyway.
An Inkbird External Controller: I used this controller. Here’s the deal though. DON’T go out and buy a L.G. incubator, and then get this controller, and the fan, egg turner, etc. Do your homework, and just get a good incubator with positive customer satisfaction, like this one:
However! If you already own the Little Giant or a similar incubator and want to save some money, get the Inkbird external temp controller. The only complaint I have about it is that it won’t allow you to set it for 99.5 degrees. So, for this round, I set it for 100 degrees. Then you set the high and low differential for 99 degrees, and 100 degrees, respectively. Then turn up the incubator temp all the way, and plug the incubator into the heat plug on the Inkbird. This lands you on an average of 99.5 degrees, right? Maybe. My secondary thermometers both read different temps the entire time, even though I had done my due diligence and calibrated all 3 together. My internal, with a hydrometer, read 95.5 ish degrees the whole time. My other secondary read 97 to 98 degrees the whole time, and the Inkbird read between the 99 and 100 degrees. If there is an external controller that adjusts to decimals, I will be trying it out next.