Egg Incubator

We've had chickens for several years now. Last year we started raising some meat birds. As part of this we ended up with a couple roosters. From time to time our hens decide to start laying outside their nest boxes. Well we found a pile of 18 eggs in the barn. Normally we would either just toss these or do a water/float test and toss any questionable ones. This time, since we now have roosters, I figured I'd try and see if any would hatch - and since we had recently taken down the aquarium, I used it to build this incubator.

I had most of the parts laying around. Using the aquarium as the base container, I first took a light socket, wired it up and screwed it down on a board cut to fit the width of the aquarium - I put an angled board in there to keep the light a little away from the glass to not heat it up too much (don't want to end up cracking it). I then took some wire mesh to create a platform to hold the eggs with a water dish under them to help with the humidity. I had an old RV thermostat to do temperature regulation. I had to mess with the thermostat to get it hotter. The thermostat maxed at 90 and the eggs should have 99.5. This along with a cpu fan and a 12v plug adaptor got things started. This mostly worked...

The aquarium is in the garage and even though it was close to 100 during the day this first week, at night it got cooler and I noticed in the morning it was down to 93 degrees! So I needed some insulation around the tank - see pic for RMAX pic. That next night I just pushed boxes and some foam kids floats around it. It then got TOO hot during the day! Ugh. So I figured this would not work without a better thermostat and insulation - so off to the store. I got a hot water heater thermostat and some 1/2" foil sided insulation. After cutting this to fit the aquarium all around, bottom and top, things are pretty consistent now. I put wire mesh around the thermostat for when the chicks hatch as the wires are open. I also cut the insulation in the front with a small duct tape handle so I can open that and check the temp/humidity without opening up the incubator. You'll see in the pics a piece of insulation next to the light - I put this in since the light directly behind the thermometer was causing it to read high. The eggs closest to the light may be a bit hot as well - with the next updates, the light will be a bit higher so hopefully more even heat.

At 7 days I used my DIY Egg Candler to take a look at the eggs. There were at least 8 that had good veining and were moving - which is pretty good if you assume only a 50% fertilization rate from the roosters. We'll see if any hatch!

I updated this with a different cpu (better air flow) fan with wire mesh around it. I'll also be updating the floor/platform to go over the entire floor and put the light on top of it with a guard rail around it to make it safer when the chicks hatch. I'll probably hang the thermostat to get it off the ground entirely. I also need to find some finer mesh - with the stuff I have, I'll have to put some paper towel down before the chicks hatch so they don't get their feet stuck. I'm also manually turning the eggs a few times a day. The next batch I'll take an egg carton and attach a 3/4" pvc pipe to the bottom, then I can just tip a dozen at a time. The tank should easily hold two dozen eggs. I may build something to connect them with some method to turn them without opening the top - but doubt I'll build an automated turner in this incubator - maybe if I build a bigger one at some point.

When the chicks hatch, I'll have pictures of the Brooder being put together now as well.

Click on any image below to view a larger (around 640x480 pixel) image.