Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hatching Eggs In a Low-tech Off-the-grid Automatic Incubator

Well, I was all excited to hatch some eggs this spring. I mean, to get some eggs to hatch. I mean, put some eggs in the old incubator I found and hatch them.
I had a dilemma though.

First, I didn't know if the incubator worked right.
Second, in order to know if the incubator worked correctly, I needed a warm indoor area in which to keep and monitor the incubators temperature and humidity.

I had been saving the very best of our hen's eggs to hatch out and had 4 dozen ready and waiting.
But the indoor space we have is barely big enough for us, so I wasn't going to be keeping the incubator in the trailer. Hmmmm, what to do?

I proposed to our daughter June, over coffee, that she hatch the chicks in her dorm room. After a moment of shock she grinned and said "Sure!"

There is a little back story that it might help to know. June had her beloved hamster Cupcake in her dorm room last year, but this year they changed the rules and Cupcake was EVICTED.
I now have Cupcake. I call her "Cupcake the Traveling Hamster" since she comes with me wherever I go.

June is grateful that I am taking good care of Cupcake and she also has a bit of a grudge with the dorm management. What better way to buck the system than to hatch 48 eggs under your bed?

"What are they going to do?" June laughed defiantly. "Make a rule that you can't keep eggs in your room?"

We all loved the idea and June proceeded to test out the incubator, but there were problems. The lid is a little warped. The temperature is too high but the adjuster knob is turned down as far as it will go. Looks like it will need work.

In the meantime spring is upon us and June is busily turning the waiting eggs to keep the yolks in the center.

Sadly we had to admit the incubator will not work out for now. Parts will need to be ordered.

So today as I kick the broody hen out of the nest for the third day in a row, I am thinking...

Instructions for a Low-tech Off-the-grid Automatic Incubator
This incubator is fully automatic in every way. It will keep precise temperature and has its own fail-safe internal power supply. It rolls the eggs several times a day insuring embryo health. Humidity is imperative for the proper incubation of eggs and this incubator has, scientifically proven, accurate humidity control.

To begin using:

Find a pasteboard box at least 12"x14". Cut a 9" hole, 2" or 3" above the floor.
Line the bottom of the box with cedar shavings to discourage mites and other insects (optional).
Put a bit of straw in on top of the shavings.
Add some finer dry material to create a smooth and comfortable surface.
Smooth the material into a bowl shape, eliminating any sharp pieces.
Add 12 to 15 of your finest, fresh, fertilized eggs.

Add one clucky brood hen.

Your chicks will be ready in 21 days.

Bonus Built-in Feature:
If you are not home when the eggs hatch, this incubator has a built in "Nanny" feature in which it will maintain the hatched chicks with highly skilled care. It will keep them warm when it is cool and take the chicks directly to food and water when they are hungry. However, you will have a difficult time removing the chicks from the incubator unless it is done at night.

Fine Print: For a less glib and more detailed account of how to hatch under a broody hen I found this article very honest and well written.


  1. hehe..I think its funny that the more blogs I read the more we all do the same things at the same time..makes sense..we do afterall have similar seasons..yes, we decided to let the broody hen sit too so I am in the process of building a 'Hen-arium' for her to finish incubating the eggs as well as house the chicks once they hatch..I hope to finish up the early version tonight and get to posting in a day or 2..fun stuff. We have been looking for 3 hens but decided it would be fun to let the hen raise them..so far she has been on them for 7 days...another 2 weeks to go!..also, I thought I posted all of this in here already but something must have happened..good luck!a..actually it happened again..whenever I try to use the wordpress 'comment as' feature. Just so you know this is eagergridlessbeaver

  2. Yea, for anyone with chickens I'm sure the broody hen issue is pretty universal this time of year.
    What are you going to do with your chicks?

    Because one is able to tell the sex of the chicks by their color,Cuckoo Merans are easy to separate. I am planning on selling the females on Craig's List and keeping the cockerels for meatie chickens.
    That's right, once again I am attempting to raise something to eat. Don't tell Gimpy McGimperson. I am keeping my fingers crossed it doesn't turn out like the turkeys.


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