Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Making an Egg Incubator

Last year we made a garden addition to our backyard which we loved! The fresh tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, and blueberries were delicious. This spring we'll be adding something new to our backyard: chickens! 

Since we have shifted our diet to "real food" (organic, unprocessed), we have been enjoying lots of farm fresh eggs! Organic, pastured eggs cost $6-7/dozen at the farmers' market which gets expensive. We have been talking about the possibility of chickens for a while and decided now would be a great time to start. We also didn't want to endorse the inhumane hatchery industry by purchasing chicks from the local feed supply.

We have a friend who has a lovely brood of chickens who supplied our {hopefully} fertilized eggs. Other supplies I gathered were:
  • Styrofoam cooler
  • Thermometer and humidity reader
  • Small bowl for water
  • Sponge
  • Lamp
  • 25 watt bulb
  • Glass/plastic from picture frame
  • Duct tape  
  • Fertilized eggs from local brood
 Step 1: Outline your glass/plastic from your picture frame on the lid of the cooler. Then cut a viewing square that is smaller than your glass/plastic so it won't fall through.
 Step 2: Tape glass/plastic window onto the top of the cooler lid with duct tape taking care to completely seal the top.

Step 3: Cut a hole in the side of the cooler for the bulb. Put lamp post into hole from the outside then screw bulb into socket. Use duct tape around the hole to avoid heat loss.
 Step 4: Find a spot for the incubator and prop the lamp post. Make sure an outlet is nearby to plug in the lamp.
 Step 5: Put water into the bowl, place sponge into the bowl--this is for humidity. Place water bowl into incubator near bulb. Place eggs together furthest away from the bulb (Make a mark with pencil on the eggs to help with remembering which way to turn them) with thermometer/humidity reader near them.
Step 6: Put the lid on and monitor, monitor, monitor! According to this website, the optimal temperature is 98-101 and the humidity between 55-70%.

I'm using a log to keep track of the temperature, humidity, and egg rotations. So far I've learned that it is very tricky to maintain the right conditions in the incubator. We'll see how this goes in 21 days!

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