Incubators are heated boxes used to keep eggs warm before hatching and, subsequently, young chicks warm. Using incubators allows fowl farmers and hobby breeders freedom in breeding programs. Hatching eggs using an egg incubator frees hens to produce more eggs, and keeping young chicks warm in an incubator improves survival rates. High-quality incubators are fairly expensive, so you might want to try to build one of your own for cost savings.
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Things you need
- 16"x20"x12" plywood box
- 14"x18"x13" plywood box
- Single-strength pane of glass (16"x20")
- Brooding/incubator thermometers (2)
- 1/4" mesh welded hardware cloth (18"x22")
- Heating unit
- Cake tin/water pan
- Tin snips
Put the 14-by-18-inch box inside the 16-by-20-inch box. On the inner box, mark a line a 1/4-inch below the rim of the outer box. Cut the top of the inner box off at this line.
Line the bottom of the inner box with glue, then centre it in the larger box and hold it there until the glue dries. The inside box should be surrounded by an inch of open space. This it the body of your egg incubator.
Use the newspaper to fill the open space around the inner box of the egg incubator. You can also use wood shavings or styrofoam for this insulation area.
Cut 2-inch squares in each corner of the mesh, using the tin snips. Leave the fourth side of these squares attached to the main body of the mesh, and fold them down to form legs. This mesh is now the stand for your incubator.
Install the heating unit and thermometers per manufacturer instructions. These will heat the box and maintain the correct temperature. The ideal temperature for hatching eggs is 37.2 to 38.3 degrees C.
Lay down a piece of cardboard as flooring for the inside box. You'll need to remove and replace this occasionally for cleaning. Line the box with shredded newspaper or shavings to support the eggs or chicks.
Use the glass plane as the lid of your egg incubator. Always use caution when removing this lid, as it will get hot.
Fill the water pan with water, and slide it under the mess stand. This will provide humidity in the incubator for the eggs. For chicks, provide water and food.
Tips and warnings
- Keep the incubator out of direct sunlight in a place where it's protected from drafts.
- If you're incubating eggs, you must rotate them consistently, or the chicks inside will die.
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