I am sure most of us dream about breeding our birds without having to resort to incubating and hand rearing, a task we all know is not to be undertaken lightly. Sooner or later there comes a time when artificial incubation is necessary not only to save an egg or chick, but also to boost bird breeding and to ensure the conservation of some species.
It could be that the eggs are very valuable, or the parents have stopped incubating for some reason, or the parents have a history of damaging their eggs thus making the decision to artificially incubate a wise one. Choosing a good incubator will be an important step and could either make or break your bird breeding efforts.
It is advisable to switch your unit on a few days before using it in order to check the temperature and humidity settings.
Newly laid parrot eggs ideally should lose about 15% of their lay weight from start of incubation to internal pip, which is when the chick breaks the inner membrane and enters into the air space of the egg, usually a day before making his external pip. Chicks normally hatch twenty four to forty eight hours after external pip has been made.
For the average parrot egg use a temperature setting of between 37.2°C and 37.5°C and set the relative humidity to between 45% and 50%. Please remember that thin-shelled eggs will lose moisture more quickly and therefore would require a higher humidity setting to slow down the moisture loss. If the egg has been incubated with a humidity setting that is too low, the chick may be dry and become stuck, and thus struggle to hatch.
On the other hand thick-shelled eggs need lower humidity to encourage moisture loss. If eggs do not lose enough moisture during incubation, that is if your humidity setting was too high for a particular egg, the chick could become swollen and have difficulty hatching, perhaps even drowning in the fluids that surround him.
Before setting eggs into your unit check them for damage or hairline cracks by candling them. Carry out any repair work on the shell with great care.
It normally takes between three and seven days of natural or artificial incubation before being able to see if the eggs are fertile or not. If you are unsure when candling the egg, it is advisable to wait a few more days before making any decisions.
The best incubators are those that run at a steady temperature and humidity and have moving air. It is preferable to have the unit door open from the front as top openings cause the incubators to lose their temperature and humidity very quickly and are prone to additional radiation losses. Once this happens your machine could overshoot as it tries to adjust itself.
Automatic egg turning makes for easier incubating and prevents having to open the incubator door frequently. Trays that rock and tilt the eggs do not work well for parrot eggs. A gentle roll of the eggs on their side is best and turning can be as little as twelve turns in a twenty four hour period. Eggs should never be allowed to turn end over end as this could damage their air cells. Remember it is a good idea to clearly mark your eggs in order to check at least once a day that the eggs have indeed turned.
Your incubator should be constructed out of material that is easy to clean and sanitise. It is essential to use a good glass thermometer as a double check on the temperature, even with digital read-out controllers.
Place your incubator out of the sunlight and in a room that has a fairly constant temperature.
Let us examine the features of the Ace Nest incubator where the aim is not only to match your expectations, but to exceed them.
Ace Nest Incubator Construction & features: The Ace Nest Incubator is sophisticated, a symbiosis between analogue and digital, yet user friendly. State-of-the-art digital and analogue technology allows for simple dial in temperature, humidity and turning. The unique design includes double wall construction which goes a long way towards eliminating the need for a strict temperature controlled incubation room. A room temperature of approximately 25°C is desirable. Your Ace Nest incubator has been built for excellent heat retention.
The Ace Nest features a built in alarm system with battery backup. Its construction allows for easy cleaning and sterilizing. It has an inbuilt viewing light and the see through door is constructed from high impact double layer acrylic with a built in air gap and front opening to reduce heat loss.
The Ace Nest incubator comprises three separate controllers which is an advantage over single electronic boards as it makes it much easier to fault find and cheaper to repair. Additionally it allows for manual intervention when required. They do not use microchip control boards as these are prone to a host of problems and can be impossible to repair, necessitating costly replacements.
Ace Nest Temperature Control: The temperature is solid state pulse proportional with a digital readout. Simply dial in your required temperature and the Ace Nest does the rest. Set point viewing is on demand and controls to one tenth of a degree Celsius. Simple calibration can be done by the user if necessary.
High and low alarms activate if the temperature is more than 0.5°C above or below the required temperature. The unit boasts dual heating elements with heat sensing by class “A” PT100, a proven accurate means of temperature measurement.
Ace Nest Humidity Control: Humidity is controlled using a solid state controller with a digital readout and set point viewing on demand. The resolution and control is to 1%relative humidity. Built in timers ensure gradual water addition which eradicates humidity overshoot.
Water dosing is achieved by an adjustable peristaltic pump to the upper air chamber before the air is heated. This feature eliminates cold air pockets caused by evaporation when water is added to the floor, or overheating when the water tank itself is heated. Operating the Ace Nest incubator at low or high altitudes is as simple as a small adjustment to the water pump.
The Ace Nest has a unique way of controlling humidity so that there is no unwanted interference between temperature and humidity.
The Turning mechanism: The solid sate microprocessor has ten selector switches which can be activated in any combination depending on the size of the eggs set in the machine. Eggs with a diameter of 15mm to 65mm can be set simultaneously and all will receive the maximum number of 180 degree turns. Up to 96 turns can be achieved in a twenty four hour period depending on the size of the egg. This is optimal for exotic birds. Egg rotation is achieved by a moving carpet system which is the most successful method of egg turning, emulating parent turning. Each time the eggs are turned, they are turned in the opposite direction. An alarm will be activated if there is a failure in the turning system.