Incubators are expensive. Can we not all agree?
I, as a backyard hatchery, don't have all the money in the world. I considered spending $100 on a nice, 24 egg forced air incubator.
But then I thought about how long that would take me to earn back... considering that and my monthly fees, I swear my eyes just about fell out of my head!
I had never incubated before, I reasoned. I was just beginning my business, I reasoned. Why spend $100 or $200 or $300?
I couldn't think of an answer.
I knew I wanted to incubate. I had so many eggs just sitting around. Chicken eggs, quail eggs... and my quail didn't go broody. How was I supposed to expand my quail business?
So I looked into DIY. I wasn't comfortable with it at first, I'll admit. I was pretty scared I was going to burn the house down. I still am!
Friday morning I drove into town. Expecting to not find any reasonable prices, or even stay within my budget, I eased my way through three stores.
Believe it or not, Walmart's prices were outrageous.
The Dollar Store had a few things that I needed. Duct tape, a 25 watt bulb, and some wire mesh I needed to convert old rubbermaids into quail breeding pens. All of that was under $5.00.
Canadian Tire had the rest. I picked up a styrofoam cooler that was "40 can capacity", or in bird talk, about a dozen chicken eggs or 30-40 quail eggs. $15.00. I kept walking.
My initial plan was to not include a fan, because I wasn't comfortable with wiring anything on my own. However, I saw the perfect fan in the office supplies aisle. It was a desk fan, and it's noisy, but it runs on batteries and works just fine at $13.00.
I grabbed a thermometer/hydrometer for $10.
Then I was off. $40 for an incubator? That was awesome!
Of course, I still had to build it (in hindsight it was easy, but at the time I was afraid to try).
Being a photographer meant I had a plug-in light socket at home. I used that, first ducktaping it just barely in the incubator. At the time, I didn't realize the end of it would get super hot.
I gathered a plug-in light socket, 4 AA batteries, my fan, my thermometer and hydrometer, duct tape, scissors, and picture frame glass.
Construction was a bit messy, but it only took me 15 minutes. I was anxious to try my bator out.
I plugged in a 40 watt bulb, worried the 25 wouldn't cut it.
Don't do that. Seriously, don't do it! Within 5 minutes my temperature was at 105°F. Way too hot. I took it off (carefully) and replaced it with my 25 watt bulb.
It took about 10 minutes to get to 99°F, and it stayed there. I was satisfied, but the light socket was awfully hot.
So I undid all the duck tap, put the light socket even further through the styrofoam wall, and redid it back up.
Success! The temperature slowwwwly climbed its way back up to 99°F, and the fan noisily did its job, while the humidity.... well, we all know how humidity is- easy.
Time to hatch some eggs!
All in all this bator was less than $40, took 20 minutes to assemble, and is reliable and easy, even for a beginner like me.