A shocking discovery about humidity in Little Giant incubators

If you have been following my exploits with the LG 9200 incubator and the improvements I have done to make it a more reliable unit, you probably guessed I would fiddle with the humidity in Little Giant incubators next. You are right.

I purchased a humidity controller similar to the temperature controller I just added to the incubator. It is designed to control a humidifier or dehumidifier to maintain a specific humidity. I just want to see what the humidity is inside the incubator and will not be using it to control anything.

During the first 18 days of incubation, the humidity inside the incubator should be between 50-55%. The last 3 days the humidity should be raised to 65%. Raising the humidity those last 3 days is often as simple as placing a wet sponge inside the incubator. I have been doing this (and another trick…stay tuned) but my hatch rates have been low. The new humidity controller would allow me to see where the humidity is during the incubation process. Unfortunately, it arrived at day 14.

I wired up the controller to be able to plug it into the wall outlet. I then placed both probes through holes in the Styrofoam cover and waited for the controller to settle. I was astonished at what I saw. The humidity read only 30%! I thought “No way. The humidity MUST be higher.” I placed a wet cloth inside and the humidity rose to 35%. The addition of two more wet facecloths raised the humidity to about 53% at an average temperature of 99.86° F (37.7° C). I think I have discovered another reason for my bad hatch rates; low humidity.
controller to verify humidity in the Little Giant incubator

While digging around and researching proper humidity in Little Giant incubators (as well as others) and what the results of low humidity are (see chart below), I learned something extremely important. The UMN Extension website says:

“Moisture is provided by a pan of water under the egg tray. The water surface should be at least half as large as the surface of the egg tray.”

Incubation problems
Eggs pipped but not hatched (check pecks hole through shell)
Chicks dead in shells.
Sticky chicks
Shells sticking to chicks.
Low average humidity.
Low average temperature.
Low humidity at hatching time.
Excessive high temperature for short period.

I mentally calculated the surface area of the water reservoir slots in the LG incubator. They are no way near 50% of the size of the egg tray. I figure they are maybe 25-30% the total area and getting an initial humidity reading of  30% pretty much confirms it in my mind. Adding the washcloths gave me a total of 53% surface area of the egg tray I figure by the 53% humidity reading.
washcloths added to raise humidity in the incubator

Unfortunately, I don’t think I will be able to keep up with all the washcloths drying out. I only have a few more days till hatch and will do my best. I need a more permanent solution…

Stay tuned to see what I have come up with to raise the humidity permanently.

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