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Questions and Answers about our HomeMade Walk-In Incubator

A photo of GaFarm Woman PamI wanted to answer some questions about the the incubator here on the farm.

Did you build or buy the incubator?

It is a large walk-in incubator that FarmMan built. You can see more here –> Incubator 

The building was empty and not finished for several years (it still needs painting, always something waiting to be finished around a farm) until last year when FarmMan decided he wanted to start hatching eggs again.

The incubator building

 Years ago he hatched and sold all types of poultry and enjoyed it. He insulated the building

 

Insulating the incubator building

and built an inside walk in unit to hold the eggs.

 

The walk-in incubator

How many eggs will the incubator hold?

 

Eggs in the walk-in incubator

A whole lot! Over a thousand. Thank goodness we haven't set that many ... yet. Both sides of the incubator can hold the tubes of eggs.

How long can you wait to set the eggs?

Hatching eggs should be incubated within 1 week to 10 days after they are laid.

Checking and turning eggs in the incubator

How do you store the eggs?

Until they are incubated, hatching eggs should be stored in cartons or cases. We have these plastic trays that FarmMan bought at a livestock auction years ago.

Storing eggs in plastic racks

Place the eggs large end up at 40 to 70 degrees F (50 to 60 degrees F is best) with a relative humidity of about 75 percent. Which was in my dining room last year. This year we have the eggs in the brooder section since we don't have biddies yet.

How do you set the eggs?

FarmMan made these wire tubes that hold around 12-15 eggs each. He places the eggs with the small end down.

 

Eggs in wire tubes for incubating

The tubes then sit on the racks in the incubator. To turn the eggs we just carefully flip the tube over to the side.

Turning the eggs in the incubator

How often do you turn the eggs?

We started out turning 3 times a day but found out that 2 turns a day(12 hours apart) will yield just as many baby chicks. What should the humidity level be? Moisture is also very important in hatching. The moisture level in the incubator should be about 50 to 55 percent relative humidity, with an increase to about 65 percent for the last 3 days of incubation. The black pan in the corner holds water. We have another pan of water on the other side also. Each side also has it's own fans, heating elements, and wafer thermostats to get the incubator heated up to the correct temperature.

 

Fans in the walk-in incubator

What temperature do you keep the eggs at?

Between 99 and 102 degrees F. We try to keep it at 99.5 degrees F. It is very important to keep the eggs at the right temperature we found out. When we first started trying to hatch eggs last year week after week we were disappointed with very few eggs if any hatching. See more here –>Problems. 

We found out our thermometer was not showing the correct temperature. I ordered a new one – A DIAL THERMOMETER/HYGROMETER. The description states that it is the most accurate incubator thermometer available. It is supplied with a wick and may be used as a Hygrometer in circulated air incubators by mounting a water bottle below the tip of the thermometer.  From then on we had pretty good hatches.

What is your percentage rate on hatches?

After we solved the temperature problem the hatches stayed around 85 to 90 percent most weeks. Some weeks better. Some not as good.

Chicks hatching in the brooder

Do you sell the baby chicks?

Chicks in the brooder

Yes. Even though I wanted to keep them all, we take most of them to livestock sales/auctions to sell.

Where do you keep all the baby chicks after they hatch?

The front part of the incubator building is the brooder section. We use heat lamps to keep the biddies warm.

 

Brooder ready for chicks to hatch

We also have this brooder that we bought at the livestock/animal auction. It is an older model but all the lights still worked.

It is also in the front section of the building.

Brooder for the qail

We use it mostly with the Pharaoh Quails.

 

Pharaoh Quail chicks

 

Quails in brooder

What bedding material do you use in the brooder?

We tried wood shavings but found out that the pine straw works better in the brooder. The biddies were always trying to eat the wood shavings.

Chicks in pine straw

I hope I answered most of your questions. If I miss any or if you have more questions feel free to ask. There is work involved with hatching and raising the baby chicks. Plus not a big profit. But there is a lot of satisfaction seeing the end result.

Chicks are cute

You have to admit, they are cute!

Please visit me on my personal blog here –> Life on a Southern Farm

Have a great day.

pam_6
7/23/2010 5:45:03 PM

Thanks Shannon! Have a great weekend. Pam


s.m.r. saia
7/21/2010 6:43:09 AM

Wow, that's really neat. They are adorable!


pam_6
7/19/2010 2:22:05 PM

Hi Nebraska Dave, Our chickens lay the eggs that we use in the incubator. The breeds we hatched were Silver Sebright, Golden Sebright, and B.B.Reds bantams. Silver and Golden Polish, Buff Orpingtons, Dominiques(Domineckers),and Light Brahmas. It is always amazing to see the little fellows break out of their shells and hatch. Plus always a real sense of accomplishment. Thank you so much for the comment. Pam


nebraska dave
7/18/2010 8:12:29 PM

@GaFarm Woman Pam, I have not seen anything like your operation on a home farm . Where do you get all the eggs to hatch? I like the engineering that went into the fabrication of the whole process to hatch eggs on this grand scale. I like to read about home small farm ingenuity and wisdom that gets things accomplished. You have figured out how to hatch chickens without expensive machinery or a large cost. Kudows go to you and Farm Man.


pam_6
7/17/2010 2:22:26 PM

Thanks Cindy, It did take a lot of trial and errors before we really got it going, but is was well worth it. I appreciate you taking time to comment. Have a great weekend. Pam


cindy murphy
7/16/2010 6:56:37 PM

Yes, yes, Pam - I do have to admit they are cute. REALLY cute! I don't know anything about raising chickens, let alone hatching eggs, (honestly, I didn't know it could be done; shows how little I know, I thought the hen had to do it). But dang! it seems like you've got quite the impressive set up there! Best wishes for continued success this season. Enjoy the weekend.