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Building your own incubator

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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 04 12:23 pm    Post subject: Building your own incubator  Reply with quote    

Any questions for Lindsay or other members on building an incubator?


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 158

PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 04 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I've got a seed germinator box thing which you plug in and has an internal heat pad. Do you think it may be possible to modify this, or not?

Thanks, Anneka

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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 04 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

How hot does it get? The two we've got have built in thermostats and don't get that hot.

We do tend to get a couple of broody hens in the summer though.


Joined: 03 Nov 2004
Posts: 61
Location: Stuck in the suburbs
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 04 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I agree, although the heating mats for homebrew run at a constant temperature (albeit pretty warm!) and I had to introduce the thermostat to the equation.

If you have a normal room thermometer (I can probably spare you one Anneka if you haven't), plug the germination box in, place a small cardboard box about an inch thick on the middle, and lay the thermometer on top of it so you can see the reading without taking off the lid - unless it's an opaque lid? Check the temp after 15 mins, 30 mins and an hour, then at two hours. See how warm it gets.

If it gets to at least 39 degrees C you are in business It may be though that for seed germination such temperatures aren't able to be reached...


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 158

PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 04 2:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I'll try with the thermometer and let you know - thank you>



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 158

PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 04 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I have got a fairly steady temperature of 31.5 degrees - on the cardboard at the base and about 27 degrees at the top (30cm high) this is with out any insulation so, tommorrow I will see if I can increase it a bit without creating a fire hazard. I've got quite a roll of bubble wrap a found in a skip . So I'll try that first.

Jane Seymore (Blue Partridge Brahma Bantam) layed her first egg on Wed and another on Thur but none today. I am surprised as I thought the bantams would not start to lay until mid January.

Anyway I am telling you this as I will soon be able to send you egg records . If I may I will try to do it weekly, that way I hopefully will not forget, let me know.

Thanks again,



Joined: 03 Nov 2004
Posts: 61
Location: Stuck in the suburbs
PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 04 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Polystyrene also might help with insulation - and don't forget about the bottom of the tray.


Joined: 15 Dec 2004
Posts: 115
Location: Manchester, Up North
PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 04 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    


What did you do about turning the eggs?

How often and what method?

I know you weren't so happy with the semi-auto method


Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 23
Location: highlands
PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 05 12:20 am    Post subject: building your own incubator Reply with quote    

Lindsay Have you thought about the humidity of the eggs. we had to spray with water when we turned the eggs otherwise the yolks stick to the shells.



Joined: 03 Nov 2004
Posts: 61
Location: Stuck in the suburbs
PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 05 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

So sorry for the delay in replying to these questions!

Turning was purely manual for the first hatches - a cross and a nought on opposite sides, each egg turned through 180 degrees along the long axis of the egg, 5 times a day. The semi automatic method was fine (again through 180 degrees, 5 times a day), it's the equipment that we built it out of that I wasn't happy with, as it's too high up, leaving little room for a chick to stand, and is too solid so it restricts the airflow very severely. Also the design left me little room to add water containers.

My humidity meter, which I used for the first hatch, was utter rubbish. I would have had a better hatch, I believe, if it had been accurate. In subsequent hatches I have not added any water until day 18 (just like the first hatch), then I have filled every available space with water containers - ferrero rocher boxes, lids, sponges...I think lack of humidity in the last few days have possibly been the biggest obstacle.

I didn't notice the yolks sticking to the sides, so I don't think they can have done too badly, but it's something to be aware of for future hatches, thanks. I will observe more closely. I do think it's down to the number of turns a day though, more than humidity, but I'm not an expert as yet. I have read that you should turn an odd number of times a day to allow the developing embryo balanced access to the nutrients in the yolk, which is supposed to be more of a problem if you turn an even number of times a day.

Hope I've answered your questions - feel free to be more explicit if there's something you want more info on. Thanks for your input!

wellington womble

Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 14981
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 05 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

My meat comes in very hand polystyrene boxes (they are a bit bigger than fish boxes) which would be perfect for putting the propagator/incubator in (unless they need more ventilation, but you can always cut holes in it) try restaurants or get some meat from www.wellhungmeat.com - I can highly reccommend them. I use mine for cold frames, growing salads, watercress, baby carrots, or protecting things from late frosts. The lids are good for putting behind seedlings in the house to reflect the light - makes a real difference.


Joined: 06 Feb 2005
Posts: 224

PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 05 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Do you think if you monitored the temperature scrupulously, that using overhead heat from a bulb would work? (The hen keeps them warm from above, after all.)

I'm asking because my dad told me that during the war his mother used to incubate eggs in some kind of 'ring', (he wasn't clear on details as he was quite young), using just a light bulb for heat. I used a suspended bulb with a home-made foil reflector when I was brooding the chicks we bought at 6 day-old last February, and it worked very well. We just winched it up and down to adjust the temperature. (I still have the hook screwed into the underside of my desk that supported the string - two strands, with evenly spaced knots - v. high tech!)

They were in a fairly cold room with the door closed, so the surrounding temperature didn't fluctuate too much. (Though I admit I did used to get up in the middle of the night to check on them at first!)

Obviously the right temperature is more critical for eggs, though the odd slight temperature drop ought not to be a problem, as long as it wasn't for very long, as a broody hen does get up to eat and poop every now and again.

Frequent turning, I can cope with. I was wondering whether a piece of towelling or an old flannel in the water trays would to help the humidity levels in the final stages, by wicking the water up to evaporate more quickly?

I must say I like the idea of using the fish box, (free) and brewing mat, (useful when I get round to making my own beer!)


Joined: 18 Nov 2007
Posts: 48
Location: Melton Mowbray, Liecs
PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 07 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I made one earlier in the year and will be trying it out in the spring, its a 12 volt system, with a thermostat from eBay, the hole thing cost about 18, it will hold 24 eggs or more, i have more information here..


Joined: 23 May 2006
Posts: 13510

PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 07 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Give me that old time religion and a broody hen any day.

No need to worry about temperature, humidity, or having to provide heat in the form of a brooder after the eggs have hatched.

Its far more natural, more exciting and more 'Downsizerish' .

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