First product review! And full disclosure — I get no compensation. This is simply my personal experience.
Last fall, at the Rumney auction, we picked up 2 fertilized duck eggs and 4 fertilized peacock eggs. (What the hell would I do with noisy peacocks, I have no idea. Beautiful but loud. And the neighbors already had problems with Guapo.)
We had picked up the Little Giant Incubator Combo Kit and were raring to try it out. (Place of purchase: Incubator Warehouse. They have lots of cool stuff.) We put it together as soon as it arrived and were discussing the possibility of buying eggs off of Craig’s List before hitting the auction.
The incubator has windows on the top for egg viewing and comes with an internal thermometer. At the time I purchased, the accessories that were included in the combo kit include an egg turner, egg candler, and air circulator. We purchased a separate external thermometer.
First hurdle: the air circulator had to be manually put in, which meant some minor wiring. Mr. Hen House could handle it, and the instructions were straight forward enough that most people could probably follow. However, in my personal opinion, it’s a little much expecting folks to know how to do electric. Fortunately, once put together it was fine.
We followed the instructions and ran the incubator to ensure we could stabilize the temperature. And it stabilized nicely for the 8 hour test. As I mentioned, it comes with a thermometer you leave in the incubator and check through the windows on the top. The external thermometer didn’t get used. It needed to be calibrated and we simply never did that. The thought is when the incubator has a permanent home, the thermometer will be put on the wall above it for quick checks. The incubator and egg turner had separate plug-ins.
When we got home with the eggs, we were pretty sure we we good to go. Experts already! We had the gear, the instructions, and enthusiasm. We put the eggs in, added the water (humidity is important), turned on the heat, fan, egg turner, and let ‘er rip!
And 28 days later (or whatever the time is — I don’t remember but the incubator came with a handy dandy chart of time to hatch by bird), nothing. Nada, squat, zilch. To be honest, I didn’t crack open any of the eggs because I was worried I’d see something sad.
The incubator and accessories were pretty easy to operator. Since the temperature does not adjust automatically, if you experience extreme temperature changes, you have to adjust the temperature gauge. The gauge has no markings, so it can be a lengthy process. The incubator should be placed in a relatively temperature stable environment, then once it’s set you don’t have to fudge with it again.
The white of the incubator made it difficult to see the water I had to put in for humidity. I suspect one of my problems was inconsistent humidity. And, it was a little awkward to fill. You have to remove the top, or at least slide it and that lets in air and changes the temperature. The egg turner was awesome, though. It turned the eggs so you don’t have to. Time saver and, for me at least, I know I didn’t screw that piece up.
- Put it in the basement, not the dining room. Why? Because we don’t have central air and the temperature in the basement is steady — no fluctuations.
- Put something under the incubator for the water. I had a little mold problem under the incubator, on my table, because of excess water. I found there are holes in the bottom for drainage and because I had a hard time seeing the water, I was not aware when it overflowed slightly.
- Color the water that I put in the incubator for humidity to make it easier to monitor.
- Rig up a tube system so I don’t have to open the top to add water.
- Put some thought into buying a humidity monitor. I think I had two problems that led to the eggs not hatching: variable humidity, and to a lesser extent, variable temperature due to the weird, and sometimes extreme temperature fluctuations we experienced this summer.
- This is not product related: Try to get an idea when the fertilized eggs were laid. I assumed they were a day or two old. However, they may have been close to hatching. Unfortunately, there was no information on that at the auction.
Pros: Easy to operate, although accessories are, in my opinion, necessary (hence getting the combo kit). The instructions are clear and understandable. It’s lightweight, portable, and reasonably priced. The egg turner in the combo kit is so worth it. American made.
Cons: Having to wire the air circulator. In my opinion, this was a big problem. Not everyone has a knack for electrical. The other con is the lack of any kind of measure on the temperature gauge.
Learning Curve: Low.
Rating: 8.5 Hens