Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Incubating eggs

Well, I have decided since I have a surplus of eggs at the moment that I am going to save the eggs for the next few days and then incubate them. My husband and I built our own incubator and it cost us nothing. So I thought I would describe our very simple incubator for anyone who would like to build their own. We took a large cardboard box that we had laying around waiting for a use or the compost pile. We cut the flaps off on the top and taped the bottom completely closed. All edges and gaps were sealed with duct tape (my favorite farm tool). Then we had some styrofoam insulation board hanging around left over from a project which we used to line the entire inside of the box. We then took another piece of cardboard that just a little larger than the opening of the boxing and taped some insulation board on that so that if it was set on top of the box the insulation board would fit snug inside the lip of the box. We then took an old lamp and took off the light bulb part and the elecric wiring. This is where my hubby came in, because I don't do electricity. He rewired a new cord (since the old one had been cut off) so that it could be plugged in. We then cut a hole in the side of the box, duct taped the light fixture in place and put in a 60 watt light bulb. You have to use a regular light bulb as the fluorescents don't give off any heat, and heat is what you are looking for. Our only purchase was the 2 dollar outdoor thermometer that we purchased at the dollar store. We placed the thermometer in the box down at the bottom where the eggs would be. Then I got a small shallow dish of water and placed that under the light bulb. The light bulb was located near the top of the box, so there was a good bit of space between the two. I then took an egg carton and cut the top off. I took a dozen eggs that had not been refrigerated and marked an x on one side of them with a crayon. Then I placed the eggs sideways on the egg carton pieces so that each egg had a little space around it. I turned the eggs several times a day until I think about day 25 or so. I would have to look that up to make sure that is the right day that you are supposed to stop turning. On day 30 we started hearing little chirping and pipping noises. For our first time we didnt have a great hatch rate, 7 of the 12 hatched. Two were stuck to the shells (to dry in the incubator) and died while trying to get clear of their shell. One more died within the first 24 hours, it was pretty week after hatching and we figured it wouldn't make it. So we had 4 that stayed in the house for several weeks. They were doing quite well and we finally moved them out to the chicken house. At night we kept them locked up in a large dog cage to protect them from the big chickens. Unfortunately, the cage did not protect them from whatever got into the chicken house during the day and killed all 4 of them. We think it was a stray cat, but weren't sure. Well, the chicken house has since been resecured and so far so good. Now we have an abundance of eggs and until someone starts buying these things, we have to do something. So, I thought we would try the incubation thing that we can have more eggs we can't eat fast enough or give away to enough people (makes sense huh?). Maybe we will have lots of little roosters that can go in the freezer. That is my hope anyway. I have some black australorps and they are supposed to be pretty good at going broody. Ours are young and have just been laying for a couple months now so maybe broodiness hasn't kicked in. Watch with my luck I will start incubating eggs and a hen will go broody, then we will have more baby chicks than you can shake a stick at running around here. Ah, on the farm is never dull. Anyway, back to the incubator. You can use a styrofoam cooler, but I didn't have one and the 10 dollars that they cost was more than I was willing to pay for my little experiment. Some people even put computer fans in theirs to move the air around a bit and get more even temps. I might do that on my next one. I have a couple of computer towers sitting around waiting to be destroyed so that is definitely an option. It is a good science project for the children anyway and loads of fun to see those babies hatching! Blessings from the farm, Kat

1 comment:

Rebecca of Sunny Morning Farm said...

WOW!! I am impressed that you were able to get 7 of 12 eggs hatched. That was a good hatch!! I have my "store bought" incubator full of Buckeye chicken eggs right now. Even with the thermometer and everything so technical I am constantly worried about how mine will do. I have had really good luck in the past but my daughter just lost a whole hatch because her electricity went off during the night for 8 hours and the eggs got too cold.

I enjoy your blog!!