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Incubator recommendations?

 
pollinator
Posts: 602
Location: Northern Puget Sound, Zone 8A
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I've still got 4 toms and 6 hens, but that will fairly soon become 3 toms as I'll process one tom for a late Christmas/early New Years dinner with friends.  Very likely will process one more tom by early spring.  So I should go into spring with one tom and 3 hens each from my Bourbon Red and Blue Slate turkeys (so 2 toms and 6 hens total).  No eggs yet, but given we just passed the Winter Solstice I'm not really expecting to find any until at least mid-February, possibly not until early April.  So I've got a little time, most likely, to figure out an incubator.  But, with the stimulus $$ coming, thinking it's a good idea to start the process.

What are some good incubators to look for good deals on?  And before someone suggests it, my chickens aren't going to be reliable enough to hatch them out, and I won't be getting broody birds like Muscovy ducks anytime soon.  So I need a mechanical incubator.  I figure on an absolute max of 5 eggs a week per hen, and with a 28 day incubation period there's little reason for an incubator over 120 egg capacity.  And even that is likely overkill.  If I only get 3 eggs per hen per week then 72 egg capacity would be plenty.  If for some reason I had a week with more eggs produced by the turkeys than I had incubator space for I could either eat the eggs or sell them to someone else interested in hatching them out.  I'd plan on selling the hatched poults in excess of what I want to raise up personally.
 
pollinator
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Location: New Brunswick, Canada
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Hey Andrew, I'd recommend building your own as it's so simple and much cheaper.  I originally built a small incubator out of a Styrofoam cooler, a computer fan, light bulb and socket and a thermostat.  Because I'm Canadian, I had to pay an insane amount to get the thermostat shipped from The States, which you don't have to worry about.  It was still under $60 with a quail tray and easily accommodated 96 quail eggs.  I had the tray pivot on a rod through the side with another rod coming out the top to tilt it up and down.  Worked like a charm, though it needed manual turning.  

This year I wanted a bigger incubator so I bought a 2x8 sheet of 1.5" XPS rigid foam board.  I made it 2x3x1' high and you can get that out of 1 board.  I had the stat, fan and bulb mounted to the top of the cooler so I plopped that on top and used a spare piece of XPS for the rest of the top.  This time I used cartons and turned them manually, which sucked but worked fine.  I don't know how much the XPS is, but it'll be pretty cheap compared to buying one.  You could also get an automatic turner and put it in, which I'll do.  I had around a gross of eggs in there with room for water containers for humidity.  I did have to go to a larger fan with the bigger incubator.  I initially had horrible hatch rates which I originally attributed to temp fluctuations as I'm in a camp with only a woodstove to provide adequate heat.  Turns out it may have been the eggs but I'll never know.  I ended up using a 175W heat lamp bulb in there and had ok hatch rates with it and new eggs.  

I think I'll make some changes to it this year; I'll see if I can do a rolling turn on the bottom and then a platform above that for hatching.  I haven't worked out how many eggs I could fit on the bottom, but I could always turn on the top floor too in a staggered hatching.  It might take a bit more headroom than I have, but I can always add a strip to the top.  I'll also but more insulation around it.  I think I should've gone 2.5" thick, but you don't have to if it's not going to be -25 or so where you keep your incubator.  I bought a couple of digital stats for about 13 of our Canadian dollars each, so I'll use of of those instead.  

I have been thinking of finding a broken freezer to make a larger incubator from and, as luck would have it, my upright packed it in a few weeks ago, so there's that.  I don't think I'll need it this year for hatching, so I'll just keep using it as a freezer outside and putting ice in it if we have warm days this winter.  



What is your plan for hatching?  Are you going to be collecting eggs for 7-10 days and then do batch incubations?  I think that's what I'll do to avoid constant hatching.  This year I bought 10 day old commercial poults and brooded them with my chicks and ducklings.  The poults seemed to learn a lot from the chicks about scratching and later foraging, though the poor girls had their toes and beaks clipped.  I'm going to do a hatch of chicks first so they're a week or so older than the poults to give the chicks a bit of a head start.
 
I remember because of the snow. Do you remember tiny ad?
Meeting that special someone with values similar to yours - at a permaculture workshop or event
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