by Jennifer Sartell of Iron Oak Farm
Here at Iron Oak Farm, the spring time hatch is over…well, as far as us humans are concerned. It was a fun and exciting season that included new breeds of chickens, turkeys and all the treasured moments that new babies bring. If the chickens decide to hatch something at this point, then I leave them to it, but for me…I’m putting the incubators away.
Cleaning the incubators for storage isn’t nearly as fun as getting them out to put fertilized eggs in. But if you take a little extra care after each hatch, your incubators will be fresh and clean and ready for the next batch of eggs. Incubator cleanliness not only ensures a healthy hatch, but incubators are expensive and if you treat them right, they’ll keep working for you and your babies for years.
For this post, I’m going to focus on the Brinsea line of incubators because that’s what we use. But many of these steps would apply to other brands/models as well. I have some experience with using the Styrofoam models and much of this could apply to those as well.
Some Pre-Clean-Up Tips
Clean up starts before the hatch
With our model, the Brinsea Mini Advanced, a few days before the hatch I line the incubator floor with a piece of paper towel. This not only absorbs extra liquid during the hatch thus, making clean up easier, but it also helps stabilize the chicks first footing. This assists in the prevention of splay leg.
I fold a square sheet of paper towel in half, then in half again. I line the folded corner up in the center of the egg turning disk and press the indentation of the inner and outer concentric circles.
This gives me my cut line.
Clean Right After Hatch
You get so excited about your new adorable chicks that it’s easy to forget the dirty shells and hatching goo fermenting in the incubator. But trust me, the quicker you clean the bators after hatch the better. Time creates odors, allows for bacteria to grow and hatching fluid starts to harden and dry and becomes hard to remove. So it’s best to deal with clean up right away.
1. Remove the paper towel flooring, if that’s feasible with your machine. Remove egg shells and give the floor a good preliminary wipe down with a paper towel. Spray any dried areas with a bit of white vinegar and let it soak in for a few minutes, then wipe again.
2. I wash all non electric parts in a bucket of hot soapy water and a cheap scrubby sponge that I can throw away after use. Rinse and let air dry in the sun if possible. The sun helps kill bacteria.
3. Wipe areas near the motor with alcohol on a cotton pad. I use a Q-Tip to get into hard to reach areas. Alcohol works well because it kills germs but evaporates quickly which works well around electric parts. (Be sure not to get motorized areas wet.) Lay open till the alcohol smell evaporates.
4. When the incubator is clean, I plug it in and let it run for a while. Filtering clean air through the clean machine dries any areas that may still be wet and freshens the whole thing through.
5. I make these baking soda sachets out of fabric and a rubber band and I use them in all sorts of places. I keep one with our seeds that we store over the years, in closets, in the laundry hamper and inside our incubators. They absorb odors and moisture.
6. Band up the cords with a rubber band, and store them with the incubators. I keep our incubators in a waterproof Rubber Made container padded with re-usable bubble wrap or crumpled newspaper.
7. Be sure to wipe down/disinfect any surfaces or table tops where the incubators have been running.
Brinsea sells a cleaning disinfectant that is specific to cleaning incubators and hatching eggs. Brinsea Incubation Disinfectant.
Note: I was not paid or prompted by Brinsea to write this post. All information and suggestion of their product is based on my own experience that I would like to share with you.