Just a few lines to let you know why and how i started making incubators and hatchers

Living out in the country we have always kept chickens and bantams for thier eggs to eat(much tastier than mass produced bought ones)and we also bought in day old chicks to fatten up for the pot. Ocasionally to our suprise one of the bantams would suddenly appear after being missing for a while with a brood of chicks so we let her get one with it.

Having the hobby of fly fishing and tying my own flies a friend gave me a Male Golden pheasant so i could use the feathers for my tying when it molted.

I then saw an ad of a person selling goldens pheasants so i bought a female to keep him company. The next year the female started to lay some eggs at random and in no specific place, we tried putting them all together to see if she would sit on them to no avail so we decided to get an incubator and hatch the eggs ourselves. first i looked in the local stores with not much success, all i could find was plastic boxes with bulbs in them that went on and off and at scandless prices. I then did a search on the internet to see what i could find and was amazed at the high prices. During the search i found some web pages that mentioned home made incubators and how to make them at a much reduced price compared to the bought ones so i decided to dig further and find out the ins and outs.

Basically i needed a box heated at a constant 37.5ºC with some water in it and a tray to put eggs on, thats easy to do i thought as i also do carpentry as another hobby and have a workshop full of tools including 2 spindle moulders, planer/thickneser, lathe and bench saw all with conected to central dust extraction.

I decided to use MDF as a material as it comes in fair size sheets and is easy to work with, i also decided on the waterproof one as water was involved and the normal MDF soaks it up like blotting paper.

I bought 2 lightbulb holders with 40watt bulbs a switch and some cable, most of these web sites with home made incubators recomend using light bulbs to provide the heat and also as an extra, we get light to see whats going on. I like to play with electronics too so i found a circuit for an thermostat, bought all the bits including a piece of board to burn the circuit onto for about 15€ and got down to buisness.

The box was fairly straight forward to make but the circuit board took 3 goes to get it right, the first one came out blank as i burnt off all the copper leaving it too long in the acid, the second one had very thin lines due to the fact that i didn't print the circuit from the reverse side and the thickness of the tracing paper is enought to separate the ink side from the board so light can pass under hence thinning the width of the lines on the circuit and they burn't when power was added.

Third time lucky, it worked ok and the thermometer slowly crept up to 35º mark and stopped going any further so i added another 2 bulbs and holders and it went to 37ºa lot faster and kept going but a quick tweek with a screwdriver on the variable resistor and it was about right. I left it a few days and i managed to get it fairly stable at 37.5º on my thermometer although it went a bit over the top then just below then over agin but it was more or less.

Time for eggs, to really try it out so off to the henhouse and came back with 30 eggs, so in they went marked one side with an X and the other with a 0along with a dish of water.

While this lot was cooking i made a candler using a 100watt light bulb inside a white round plastic carton covered with black insulating tape and tried it out on a couple of fresh eggs and it worked fine

Luckily i was turning by hand as after 5 days, on opening for the morning turn 2 light bulbs blown, the next day another one so i made a mental note to look for another heat source and also some form to turn the eggs quicker if not automatically as this handturning buisness is a pain in the a**.

Day 7, candling day, I got to 17 before the plastic candler started to smoke and melt so i turned it off and let it cool before checking the rest. 27 eggs all with spiders inside, yipee this is easypeezy. I was now on candler mk 2 with a bell type switch rather than an on/off one and through about 8 bulbs by the time day 14 came, down to 21 eggs as the other 6 had given up somewhere along the line on candling. thing not so good although on the bright side the candler worked perfect(i still use it today although i now have a 75w halogen spot in it.

By the time i stopped turning at day 18 another 3 had given up so i was left with 18 hopefully to hatch. On the morning of day 20 while eating breakfast i heard a squeak or what seemed to be, following the noise it came from the incbator so removing the towel from the window glass i had 3 chicks 1 nice and fluffy the other two a bit damp obviosly just hatched, by the end of the day i had 14 and after that no more the rest had died inshell of which only 1 was pipped.

Since this time i have spent hundreds of hours testing and slowly improving my incubators, use a seperate hatcher and have an average hatchrate of over 85% for the last few years hatching about 1500 chicks, mostly pheasants, rather than the 46% on the first go (14 out of 30)

I have also made and sold numerous hatchers and incubators both in proper boxes and a variety of others including fridge/freezers, coldboxes and just plain polistyrene fish boxes(new unused), i can convert, repair and updated almost any incubator or hatcher to the requirments of the customer. I also sell any of the components that i use, individually or in kits as i get a good price from the makers by buying in bulk.

I hope to pass on some of this knowlege that i have gained so that people don't get put of by a bad first time experience like i had so hence this website(hopefully i'll get it finished one day)

Let me know if you need something