Friday, April 19, 2013

Spring has arrived!

Finally the weather has changed for the better... it has skipped Spring and headed right into summer. So our project list is under way.
Right now we are building large pens for our flight quail. We currently have 2 small bins for our newly hatched

Two large wooden brooders for our growing babies.

We have hatched out emu, chicks, and duckling are arriving this week.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Build a homemade still-air incubator for quail, chickens, ducks

Back in the 1960's, I tried to hatch robin's eggs in an old metal breadbox. I didn't understand the value of the right temperature and humidity, so year after year, I failed to hatch any eggs.  Granted I was only about 8 years old! Years later, hubby Jim and I now hatch quail, chicken, duck, goose and emu eggs with success. We started with a store bought incubator and have progressed to large cabinet style incubators.

You can use anything for an incubator as long as it is fireproof. An aquarium works well and you can look at the eggs easily.  A more inexpensive incubator is a Styrofoam cooler.
You will also need a thermometer with humidity. Quail need about 60-70% humidity and 100* temperature.

Experts recommend that you set the temperature of your still-air incubator to 101 to 102 degrees to best avoid the formation of cold spots on the inside.
Set up before you get eggs and maintain the correct temperature with water, before putting eggs in. Let the eggs set for a day so they are room temperature before adding them to the incubator.
You need heat and moisture. 
You can adjust the height of the bulb, and you can cover part of the top to keep the heat in. Put the light over the water, not the eggs. 
Keep in mind you will need to turn the eggs 3-4 times a day. You may need to adjust the temperature, so check it daily. As the embryos grow, they will create a little heat. 
You can check the fertility after 6 days, using a candling lamp the embryo should be red and clearly visible.
Turn the eggs for 16 days. Then stop. The eggs will hatch at 17-19 dependent on accuracy of temperature. The warmer the temperature, the faster the eggs will hatch, the cooler the temperature, the slower they will hatch. The difference of temperature should be no more than 1 degree from 100*

NOTE: Most duck eggs take longer to incubate: 28 days
 Muscovy Ducks go 31 days.

 Ventilation and getting the wattage right are the keys. Temperature has to stay right and the humidity has to be right at hatch or they die in shell

Mark the eggs with an 'O' on one side of the shell and an 'X' on the opposite side.Place the eggs into the incubator on their sides with the pointed ends angled slightly downward.

Moisture is a bowl or can with water. Heat is a light bulb, the size is whatever will keep the temp at 100 degrees at egg level. Keep the thermometer near the eggs for an accurate reading. 
Cover the water when the eggs start to hatch to avoid accidents. 

From day 16 it is important not to open the incubator, (no matter how tempting it is) until the eggs have hatched and the baby chicks have dried out and are fluffy. This is because they need the humidity generated by themselves to aid hatching,

The babies will need heat and kept draft free after they hatch.

Here is a link to an egg hatch guide: