Recently, raising chickens at home has become a popular activity, as people have learned about the way hens live in mass-produced farms, which has generated some kind of rejection.
Also, incubating baby chickens can be a fun family project. While the cost of an incubator in Kenya is quite high, you can make one at home through a relatively simple process.
Even, you probably already have the implements at home.
1. Make the incubator with a polystyrene cooler
Cut a hole in one of the ends of an extruded polystyrene cooler. The hole will be used to place a bulb and its socket. Insert a socket and place a 25-watt bulb.
Place multipurpose tape around the hole and the socket inside and outside the cooler. This part of the process is very important in order to reduce the risk of fire.
You can also use a small box, but an extruded polystyrene cooler works best because it is a material that works as a thermal insulator.
Divide the cooler into two parts.
Use a chicken mesh or other type of metal mesh to separate the part of the cooler where the bulb is located. This is important since in this way you will prevent the chickens from burning.
Optional: Create a false floor by placing a chicken net just above the floor of the cooler. In this way, it will be much easier to clean the feces of the chickens once they are born.
Add a digital instrument to measure temperature (thermometer) and humidity (hygrometer).
Place it in the place where you are going to place the eggs. Since the main function of an incubator is to keep the internal temperature and humidity at an optimum level, make sure the thermometer or hygrometer has a high degree of accuracy.
Add a bowl for the water.
This will be the source of moisture. Also, place a sponge so that you can adjust the amount of water easily.
Cut a window on the lid of the cooler.
Use the glass of a photo frame to determine the size of the hole. It must be a little smaller than the dimensions of the glass.
Then, secure the glass with multipurpose tape to secure it to the hole.
Optional: place a hinge for the lid of the cooler on one side of the upper edge and secure it with multipurpose tape.
Try the incubator.
Before laying the eggs, turn on the bulb and monitor the temperature and humidity for a day or more. Make some adjustments to heat and humidity until they reach an optimal level.
The temperature should remain at 37.5 ° C (99.5 ° F) throughout the incubation process.
The optimum humidity varies; it should be between 40 and 50% during the first 18 days, and then go up to between 65 and 75% during the last 4 days.
To reduce the temperature, drill some holes in the sides of the cooler. If it goes down too much after creating the holes, cover some with multipurpose tape.
You can reduce moisture by absorbing some water with the sponge. To increase it, squeeze some of the water from the sponge.
Place the eggs inside.
It is important to get fertilized eggs: eggs sold in stores will not work for this purpose. If you do not have chickens or a rooster, a good way to get fertilized eggs is to contact the manager of a local farm.
Group the eggs in order to keep them at a constant temperature.
The quality of the eggs depends on the health of the chicken from which they come. Therefore, it is recommended that you ask the manager for some time to visit the farm before buying the eggs.
Hens that are free are almost always healthier than those that live in cages. An optimal incubation cup is between 50 and 85%.
Laying hens are usually smaller and raised to lay eggs. On the other hand, larger chickens are raised to produce meat.
These are usually large birds that grow relatively quickly. However, there are chickens raised to fulfill both purposes. Ask the farm managers about the variety of chickens they raise.
2. Incubate the eggs
Keep track of time and vital statistics.
Chicken eggs take 21 days to incubate, so it is important to know the exact day they are placed in the incubator. You must also record the humidity and temperature readings.
Rotate the eggs.
Give the eggs a quarter and a half turn three times a day for the first 18 days. You should turn it so that one side is down and the other side up.
Mark one side of each egg with an "X" and the other with an "O" to keep track of which side is facing up.
Watch the eggs in light after the first week.
In this way, you can detect infertile and rotten eggs. To do this, you just have to hold each egg against a bright light in a dark room to see inside.
You can get a special device for this purpose, but usually, a small and powerful flashlight is enough. If you discover an infertile or rotten egg, remove it from the incubator.
If you use a flashlight, your lens should be small enough for the light to go to the egg.
Another way to create a homemade device to see the eggs in the light is to place a desk lamp inside a cardboard box with a small round hole at the top.
Then, you just have to place the egg in that hole to see it in light. You may need to rotate the eggs carefully, vertically or horizontally, in order to see the inside better.
A live embryo It looks like a dark spot with several blood vessels around it. A dead embryo can be seen as a ring or as a bloodstain inside the shell. An infertile egg glows brightly and evenly since it does not contain an embryo.
Listen carefully to be able to hear when the chickens begin to be born.
On day 21, the chickens will begin to break their husks so they can breathe after tearing their air sack.
After this happens, watch them carefully. It may take up to 12 hours to completely hatch.
If some of the chickens have not been able to be born after 12 hours, remove the top part of the shell yourself.