Whether you have stubborn hens that refuse to go broody once their eggs are laid or you are just looking to get a few new hatchlings quickly, it is not that big of a deal to hatch chicks from your freshly collected, fertilized eggs. While incubators are available at most farm equipment and supply stores, they can be rather expensive. Thankfully, all it takes to hatch chicks is the right environment, and this environment is easy enough to construct on your own with just a few items. Here are five simple items you can use to construct a makeshift incubator at home.
1. Plastic Container with Lid - A medium plastic tote with a lid is all you need for the base of your incubator. You can also use a styrofoam cooler, but because of their usual small size, these are only large enough for a few eggs. Cover the bottom of the inside of the container with a soft cotton towel or old t-shirt.
2. Heat Lamp - Find a heat lamp that has a conical cover to evenly disperse heat and a clip to situate the lamp inside of the container. Cut a hole in the container lid that is just large enough to feed the backside of the heat lamp and the cord through and clip it into place.
3. Thermometer/Hydrometer - To ensure your incubator will provide the proper environment, you will need to monitor the temperature and humidity inside of the container. Chicken eggs should ideally be kept at a temperature between 99 and 102 degrees during incubation, and the humidity level should remain between 50 and 65 percent.
4. Automatic Egg Turner - While eggs are in the nest with a broody hen, she will turn them several times a day. While in a makeshift incubator, this process is still important for proper chick development. You could turn the eggs by hand, but this will mean that you will have to turn the eggs several times a day for at least 14 days. It is much easier if you invest in an automatic egg turner, which holds the eggs and turns them a specific number of times every day.
5. Glass Bowl of Water - To maintain humidity levels in the incubator, you may need to add a bowl of water just below the heat lamp. The water evaporates to give the humidity a boost, which is important to keep the shells at a consistency where the baby chicks will not have difficulty breaking out when ready.
For more tips and information, contact a company like Clark Tractor & Supply.