Eggs require specific conditions in which to hatch. Temperature and humidity make up two of the most important variables in egg incubation. To keep these variables consistent, make an incubator from scratch using a styrofoam cooler. The cooler insulates the eggs' environment and provides an easy material to work with. A small electrical heating pad heats the eggs from below while a bowl of water keeps the humidity high. In addition to building the incubator, turn the eggs three times a day for healthy and consistent growth.
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Things you need
- Styrofoam cooler, 30 quarts
- Utility knife
- Picture frame glass, 5-by-7
- Hot glue gun
- Heating pad with adjustable temperature
- Cooling rack
- Small pan or bowl
- Small battery-operated fan
- Permanent marker
Puncture five holes into all four sides of the cooler with a screwdriver.
Cut a rectangular hole in one large side of the incubator measuring 4 1/2" x 6 1/2" with a utility knife.
Cut a half-inch notch around the rectangular hole going only halfway through the styrofoam with a utility knife.
Glue the picture frame glass onto the notch with a hot glue gun.
Cut a notch in a top corner of the cooler for the heating pad cord with a utility knife.
Position the heating pad inside the cooler flat against the bottom so that it abuts at least two cooler walls.
Position a small bowl or pan of water next to the heating pad and place a sponge inside.
Lean a thermometer and hygrometer up against the inside cooler wall so that they are visible from the picture frame window.
Place a cooling rack, such as those used in baking, atop the heating pad.
Lean a battery-operated fan against the wall of the cooler and turn it on.
Close the cooler lid and turn on the heating pad.
After one hour, check the humidity and temperature. The temperature for incubation should be 37.5 degrees C and humidity at 50%. Turn the heating pad up or down to increase or decrease temperature. Add or remove sponges to increase or decrease humidity.
Adjust the heating pad and sponges until the temperature and humidity are consistent over a two-hour period.
Mark fertile eggs with an "X" on one side and an "O" on the other side. Place eggs on the cooling rack on their side with either the "X" or the "O" facing up. According to Backyard Chickens, the egg's large end should sit slightly higher than the egg's pointed end. Use the markings on the eggs to monitor your egg-turning.
Tips and warnings
- Check the temperature, humidity and water level each time you turn the eggs. After 18 days in the incubator, increase the humidity to 80 per cent.
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