Egg incubators are machines imitates the activities of the mother birds by maintaining a constant temperature and humidity over a given number of eggs until they hatch. Incubators vary in sizes depending on the number of eggs they can hatch at a time. As such, their prices also vary. However, good incubators are known to be expensive and you can expect to spend a minimum of $60 and above to get one.
In this article, we will be discussing how to build an incubator in a few simple steps that will cost you below $10. But before we go into the details, here are some things you will need.
- A few wooden bars to construct a frame
- A lamp-holder
- An incandescent light bulb
- A Styrofoam box
- A fabric to wrap over the frame
- A thermometer with a humidity gauge
- A shallow water cup
- Nails to assemble the frame
Then you are also going to need some tools to put these things together.
- Hack saw
- A sharp blade
- Drilling machine
- Measurement tape
- Stapling machine
The Steps in Details
1. Building the Frame
The first thing to do is to build the frame that will be housing the incubator. How to go about this? It’s simple. Assuming the dimension of your Styrofoam box is 16” by 14”, simply build a frame that will fit into its inner dimension. The thickness of the wood doesn’t matter much, provided its height is enough to fit in a water cup of about 2 inches.
2. Adding a fabric or screen to the frame
Using the porous fabric material, make a screen over the frame by cutting the fabric to fit the size of the frame and stapling it to the frame. Just be sure that it can support the weight of several eggs.
3. Connecting the light bulb
To connect a lighting bulb to the incubator, drill a round 1-inch hole on one side of the Styrofoam box. Ensure that the electric bulb is not going to touch the lid of the container when closing it. As such, you may need to drill the hole a little low but not too low. The wattage of the electric bulb will vary depending on the size of the box (35 to 60 watts is good). Now you can fit the lighting bulb socket into the hole you drilled, and make sure it fits tightly.
4. Providing ventilation
It is also necessary to make provision for ventilation to better your chances of successful hatching. On the side and lid of the box, drill a few holes, preferably two on each side.
5. Completing the setup
This is the point where you put everything together and see if you’ve done a good job. Start by putting the wooden frame into the Styrofoam, then put the water cup inside. Secondly, place the thermometer inside the incubator but attach it to one side of the frame. Lastly, insert the lightbulb and plug it to a socket outlet.
You can now add some eggs if you have them handy to test the carrying capacity of your incubator. One more thing, before you put those eggs inside your incubator and start waiting for the 21 days hatching roulette, ensure that those eggs are fertile first. So congratulation you are done building an incubator.
The Challenges Involved
Building a homemade incubator shouldn’t take you longer than an hour, but that is not the problem. The challenge is that for an egg to hatch, its surrounding temperature must be maintained between 99oF and 102oF for 21 days.
The easiest solution to this problem, in my opinion, is to buy a water thermostat and wire it into your electric source. By so doing, the thermostat will automatically keep regulating the temperature within the incubator by switching itself off when the bulb is too hot and turning on again when the temperature falls back to the range.
One other thing you need to regulate is the humidity of the incubator. You need to keep the humidity between 40-50% for the first 18 days, then for the last three days, you may keep it between 60-70%. Also, the embryo can deform when it sticks to the shell of the egg. To avoid this, it is recommended that you turn your eggs at least two to three times a day.
All the information you need to make a homemade incubator has been discussed. And I believe that with the step by step process in this article, nearly everyone can do it, but we advise that you pay more attention to the challenges of the hatching process.
You may build a perfect incubator but if you fail to observe the conditions necessary for hatching an egg, all your effort will be for nothing.