We decided to keep chickens recently. City Ordinances duly consulted we were on our way. The initial choices lay between buying day-old chicks, point of lay pullets or hatching eggs.
We wanted the kids to have the full experience, so hatching eggs were the first choice. When I left the UK, I left behind my wonderful Brinsea Octagon 20. We couldn’t afford the $300 a new one would cost, so I wondered how hard it might be to build one. After all, I have a decently equipped woodshop, and plenty of ingenuity.
Well it was a little harder than I thought. Not so much the box, that was easy, but maintaining an even temperature inside was a little trickier.
The case is made from 1/2” Birch ply. The internal dimensions are sized to fit a commercially available auto-turn cradle (about 16 1/2” square.Hinges are fitted to the front and top, and the top was given a generous glass window. Forced air is provided by a 12V PC case fan, and this works very well. I made the Hatching tray you can see here that simply slides in along the rails that hold the auto-turn cradle shown below.
The next hurdle was temperature control. I didn’t want to use lightbulbs! Yes, I know they work, but they take up a lot of spce, are hot and exposed, and are designed to produce light not heat. Nope, I wanted a heater.
My first attempt was to remove the strip heater from a $2 set of heated hair grips I found at a flea market. The fan was mounted on the end of a plastic tunnel containing the heater. This was fine except I had temperature variations of up to 5F in different places .... unacceptable.