Is An Incubator Next?

Oh, I think so. I have no use for hatching chicken eggs (it isn’t even possible because of my lack of a noisy rooster), but I will be needing to hatch quail eggs. Japanese quail do not often go broody and set their eggs, so an incubator intervention of sorts is necessary to keep their cycle going.

Enter the MacGyver’d incubator. I am gathering common elements from various egg incubators I see in pictures, print, and around the web, to put together an easy and inexpensive (and hopefully functional) incubator for quail. I’m not sure which route I am going to go yet: wooden box, styrofoam ice chest, or plastic ice chest, but I am leaning towards wooden. I have to assume that I will be incubating eggs frequently so I will need something sturdy. This puppy will also have a nifty gadget for turning eggs. 😉

Anyone out there who has an incubator or has built one, please weigh in on your favorite features and parts that seem irrelevant to hatching.


19 thoughts on “Is An Incubator Next?

  1. I built one from a styrofoam cooler. I was as proud as any 6th grader in a Science competition would be, LOL! Like you plan, I used a water heater thermostat and had a window on the top. The water heater thermostat is VERY difficult to dial in to maintain the correct temps. I had issues with the temperature dropping to 77°F before it would kick back on. Too variable to get a good hatch. Would be better to buy an incubator thermostat, or maybe use a digital Heat/AC thermostat. I had a 20% hatch rate. Also, a window placed on top will fog up from the humidity – put it on the side so your children can see into the incubator without perching precariously on a chair. Have fun!

  2. Oh, also place the thermostat away from the fan and the light so it reads true. Shield the lightbulb with a piece of sheet metal for more even heat distribution. Place shelf liner on top of your hardware cloth where the eggs will hatch.

  3. Sarah, I’ve used broody hens to foster day old chicks a couple of times. I like it a lot more than brooding them under a light. When you get to the point of needing new hens, you might try this. I have used jersey giants, but cochins go broody a lot, too. The trick is to make sure the hen has been sitting for 21 days (recheck this), then slip day old chicks under that lady, in the dark if possible. She’ll freak out a little bit, and possible reject them, but I’ve had good success. Oh take the eggs out. Don’t get greedy and try to add in a few more the next day—they get rejected. Been there. Done that. Not worth it for two extra chicks.

    • I love, love, LOVE Jersey Giants! I have half a mind to start my fall flock with all Jersey Giants, but I’m not sure how well they would fit into my coop. Are they very loud? (It’s nice to know they are good foster mothers)

      • They aren’t loud. But they do go broody a lot. They are supposed to lay through the winter, but I sporadically rotate my flock too often for various reasons (not really because they aren’t laying). Loud? I don’t really think of any of my hens as loud. Well, maybe barred rocks. They’re kinda meek, in my experience.

  4. Lol, if you’re looking for hens that go broody get a few Black copper marans hens, they are impossible! I have 30ish laying hens free ranging around here and 5 of those are marans. EVERY SINGLE ONE goes broody on me at least twice a year. They are ALL broody right now, and driving me nuts, lol! Want to hog up all my nest boxes. My poor 2 year old cries when they bite his fingers when he tries to gather eggs without me, he can’t figure out why they won’t let him take the eggs, lol!

  5. Ok the fan will circulate air but will also require you to add water in the wells for HUMIDITY much more often. I bought the Styrofoam one with Turner from tractor supply website. Everything even shipping was under 100 it took a bit of tweaking to get temp to stay where I needed it but my first hatch resulted in 13 live chicks out of 30 EGGS. And I had some pretty severe temp and humidity fluctuations at the beginning, so overall I am pleased as buying them at 3.75 a chick it has paid for the unit already. There is a guy on YouTube made one from ice chest the plastic one and a light fixture one of his 3 EGGS hatched. I was going to do that but didn’t want to wait forever for me to get around to building it so I have an ice chest you can have if you need one. Don’t think wood will hold in the heat or humidity well. You could always build a case out of wood for the Styrofoam one but the one I bought I was impressed with the stability and strength it’s not like the old fishing coolers you buy at the grocery store.

    • In my crude drawing, I have a dish with sponges and water under the wire rack that holds the egg tray. It should provide the necessary humidity.

      If I do build a wooden incubator, it would be lined with the foil insulation that people use for roofs. It’s sturdy, reflective, and keeps heat in/out. So that would be ideal really as far as a long-term incubator. But I also have to think about cost.

      Looking around, most incubators (even the crappy styrofoam ones) are upwards of $100 like you said! Crazy! I was thinking more like $30 or $40… Lol!

      • I see the styrafoam incubators on Craigslist for $45 – $75. You could post a wanted add in the farm and garden section.

      • I could. But I honestly don’t want to spend my $40 on a used styrofoam incubator. I have had some bad experiences with the Craigslist in my area. 😦 Craigslist is kind of on my black list right now. If I lived in a bigger city, I’m sure it would be easier with so many more options and people. But hey, if you can find an awesome incubator that works on Craigslist, go for it! More power to ya!

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