Once we arrived home from the Coast, I started setting eggs aside for incubation.
I want the temperature between 40 and 60F and I need to make sure that the egg cartons are tipped. Every day I would tip them the other way. You can see from the picture that I set them in the windowsill downstairs. That is because the temperature here was getting warmer and I thought being by the window would keep the eggs a bit cooler.
I had placed them on a ledge in our basement stairwell but that proved to be too warm a place. The cold room was too cold a place. The windowsill was just right.
You can easily store eggs over a 2 week period for incubating. Just make sure to turn them around at least once a day. I was turning them twice a day.
We bought a second hand incubator from a friend - it's a Roll X which is supposed to be a very good make.
Over the Winter, the Gman fiddled around with it and discovered we needed a new thermometer/hygrometer assembly. I ordered one from Murray McMurray Hatchery. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago....
Reading through the instruction booklet (from 1975 - this is an old incubator)
we read about ideal temperatures and humidity levels.
For temperatures we want 99 3/4 ideally.
For humidity levels, we want the hygrometer to read 85 ideally. A reading of 85 will mean a relative humidity of 60%, which is what we want for the first 18 days. For the last 3 days we will want a reading of 89 of the hygrometer which will mean relative humidity of 70%.
So we assembled the whole incubator in order to give it a test run.
We put in 4 eggs from the fridge. We were just trying to test the automatic turners and yes they worked.
See the vertical arm on this box? That and the rod below it are the turners.
You can hold down the button on the top of the black box to manually test the automatic turners.
After confirming that everything was in working order, we placed the eggs.
48 eggs, large end up.
Here is the incubator at work. You can see the waterer at the top left of the picture. It has a tube on the end and you place that in the hole and it is held in place by a set screw. The water is there to help with humidity.
On a daily basis, there is nothing more to do than to check the temperature from time to time, and keep an eye on the water level.
Soon we will be able to candle the eggs to see if they are all fertile.
3 days before the hatch (which takes 21 days for chickens) we will turn off the automatic turners. We will open up the incubator, carefully gather the eggs and set them aside. We will remove the turning grid and then the metal screen below that and change them around.
The turning grid will go in first, the metal screen will go above that and then we will return the eggs, placing them large end up again.
This is done so that when the eggs hatch, the chicks cannot get stuck under the turning grid.
We're hopeful that this experiment works out and we'll keep you posted. These chicks will be a cross between the Cornish Giant rooster we have and the Red Sex Link laying hens. It should be interesting.
Our unintentional Experiment of 2010 has led us right into one of our 2011 Experiments - Incubating eggs in hopes of hatching out our own chicks.
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