Breeding chickens is usually not difficult, so long as your hens are laying. If you want them to continue laying eggs rather than roosting on the ones they have already laid, you need an incubator. There are some made by companies that work well, but you can make a simple incubator at home for much less money.
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Things you need
- Styrofoam cooler
- Pocket knife
- Glass from 8 1/2-inch by 11-inch picture frame
- Light socket with electrical plug
- Small battery-powered fan
- 15-watt light bulb
Cut a view port into a styrofoam cooler. The styrofoam cooler is the basis of your incubator. Measure a rectangle 8 1/2 inches tall and 11 inches long on the side of the cooler. Use a pocket knife to cut the rectangle out and glue the glass from a frame into it.
Install the incubator heater. Hold a single bulb lighting socket upside down on the cooler lid and trace around it with a pencil. Cut the circle you traced with the knife and slide the fixture into the hole. Invert the cooler lid and screw a 15-watt light bulb into the socket.
Install a thermometer and ventilation system to regulate your new incubator's temperature. Tape a thermometer into the inside of the cooler so you can see it through the glass. Poke three holes in each side of the incubator with the pencil and place a small battery operated fan on the floor. Turn on the light and the fan and wait a couple of hours to see where the temperature stays. If it is too hot inside for the species of egg, poke a few more holes until it stays cool enough. If it is too cool, tape over a few holes.
Humidify the inside of the incubator with a little dish of water, since evaporating water provides a good humidity percentage.
Tips and warnings
- For some amphibians and lizards that leave egg clutches in soil, consider a different way to regulate the temperature. Placing water in the bottom of the cooler, with an aquarium heater and a plastic container in the water with soil for the eggs, may work better than a light bulb.
- Monitor your incubator constantly during the first clutch of eggs. The temperature may get too high or too low if the fan batteries run out, the light bulb burns out or external temperatures get too extreme.
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