Day of Lockdown
The last three days of incubation is referred to as lock down. When your eggs are in the home stretch. For turkeys, this is day 25. The incubator should not be opened after day 25 unless absolutely necessary.
I began by carefully removing all the eggs from the incubator and gently placing them on a towel (or an egg carton) and removing the egg turner. You may be tempted to simply lift the tray with the eggs still on it. Please don’t try this. The tray is not designed to support the weight of the eggs, bad things may happen.
After the tray was out I filled the water trays and placed the eggs back in the incubator and added four wet (new) sponges around the side to get the humidity level to %80.
I removed the air plugs at the top of the incubator, you may feel inclined to leave these in, especially when you attempt to regulate the humidity level, (the humidity level will be greatly affected by these being removed) but I promise you that the birds getting enough oxygen to breath is every bit as important as humidity level. Take them out!
I returned the lid and adjust the temperature to 98-98.5 degrees.
Adjusting the temperature
Adjusting the temperature while the eggs are in there is a tricky business. This is how I did it. I am sure that there is a better way to do it, but I don’t know what it is.
Once the lid has been placed back on the incubator the temperature will begin to go back up. The light on the top will indicate when the heating element is on. If the temperature approaches the maximum of the desired range, gently turn the knob counter-clockwise until the light goes off. Keep watching, if the temperature approaches the minimum, then you want to turn the knob clockwise until the light comes on.
When I say gently adjust I mean turn it like a hair, literally. The knob is extremely touchy. Do this until the temperature does not stray outside the range. It can be time-consuming and a bit frustrating, but like I said this is the only way I know how to do it. Once your temperature is good, check on it periodically to make sure there haven’t been any extreme fluctuations.
Ideally, I would like to have a second incubator that I could have at the ready, already at the proper temp and humidity to use as a hatcher, but for now, I only have one.
If the humidity level is still not high enough more sponges will need to be added. I had to add six more, for a whopping total of 10 sponges before the incubator got to %80. If you are using a still air incubator you will need considerably less. If you are attempting to hatch without a hydrometer, you want to look for humidity building up on the viewing window, which is a good indication, but I would still recommend a hydrometer.
If you humidity drops below %80 during lock down, you can open one of the plastic viewing windows and add water to your sponges, I use a turkey baster to do this, do what you need to do quickly and close it back up. You don’t want to have it open too long. Be gentle with your incubator, if it is styrofoam it will break without a lot of effort.
I never fail to learn something during a hatch, sadly, this time, there was an injury due to my lack of insight.
The incubator fan does not come with a guard, it is just an open fan, chicks can’t reach it. Turkeys are taller than chickens, common sense should have told me this, but hindsight being what it is… When a turkey poult stands up they can reach it. My first bird out taught me this lesson and was cut on the head. Therefore, I broke incubator 101 protocol, I opened the incubator. For two reasons, one to administer first-aid to the baby and two to rectify the problem. I needed a quick solution so I used nylon window screen cut in a square slightly larger that the fan and a large rubber band to hold it in place. My next post will include pictures of this on-the-fly modification.
I included this information in this post so that you can avoid my mistakes…