Alternative Incubation Methods: Reptile Heating Pads?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by my sunwolf, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    So for incubation techniques, I have tried a Genesis Hovabator (crappy) and broody hens (amazing but unreliable). I'm really interested in cabinet incubators, but they're definitely not in the budget anytime soon. So I've been thinking about building my own incubator!

    Unfortunately, I am definitely not a very handy person... I'm just excited whenever I can nail some boards together.

    Has anyone tried alternative incubation? One thing I've been mulling over has been heating pads. Has anyone here tried building an incubator with reptile heat pads? Supposedly, you can get a rheostat control for them.

    My idea was that the exterior be styrofoam or wood, and that the interior be glass (to hold humidity--someone tell me if that might be too much humidity). The heating pads would stick to the bottom of the glass, and be sandwiched between the glass and the exterior. These pads would provide most of the heat. There would be enough pads to cover the length of the glass. Then, there would be a pad along the bottom of the glass, a towel or something, to keep the eggs from touching the hot glass (reptile pads can get up to 110˚F or more at direct contact). OR, egg turners would be placed directly on the glass, and eggs would still be kept warm enough even 1" above the hot glass. There would be a water tray around the edge, in the corner, on one of the walls somehow. The heating pads would sort of mimic the direct-warmth nature of actual broody hen incubation. It would be worth considering how the turning would happen if the auto egg turners were too high up to receive the benefit of the heating pad below.

    Does this sound at all doable?

    I'm still looking into potential fire hazards associated with the reptile heating pads, and their true temperatures--I think they may not be as reliably hot as you'd need for an incubator, but I think it depends on the brand. With a rheostat, I wouldn't worry as much about the fire hazard. Not sure then if you'd need a thermostat or if you could adjust the rheostat to change the heat level of the pad.

    I just like this so much better than the idea of forced air, since humidity would definitely not be as much of an obstacle if air were not constantly being blown over the eggs.
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Last edited: Jan 24, 2014
  3. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    I can't thank you enough for responding!! Your page is extremely encouraging. I LOVE the way you did it.

    That thermostat looks amazing. And what an INCREDIBLE hatch rate! We also have some of these coolers lying around as my spouse works for a meat company.

    I do happen to have an automatic egg turner on hand, so I'd be interested to see if the heat was even enough throughout the bator (because of the fan) for it to reach the eggs in the turner. Any thoughts on this?

    I think at this point it would be ridiculous NOT to build one [​IMG]
     
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    The fan seemed to do a really good job of keeping a consistent temperature throughout, so I'm sure that would work. The main thing is to have the probe from the thermostat sitting at egg level - that way, any adjustments you make to temperature are for the eggs and not the temp elsewhere in the cooler. I wish I could have put a turner in mine - that was the only downside to it - the cooler was too small to accommodate a turner. I'd love to hear updates as you build and hatch in yours, to see how it works out for you.
     

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