Eggsperiment - Heating Pad Incubator

Discussion in 'Quail' started by MegC, Mar 29, 2017.

  1. MegC

    MegC Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi all! I wanted to share an experiment I've been conducting... I have wanted chickens for years, and I finally got seven chicks to live in my (urban) backyard. I love my chickens! Ever since we got them, I have been fascinated with the idea of hatching eggs. I also have wanted to try to hatch eggs in an unconventional way. Chickens truly are a gateway bird! I provided heat for my chicken chicks through the mama heating pad method, so I decided to use that heating pad, an older cooler, a dish towel, a mason jar, and a sponge to cobble together an incubator. I played around with the configuration until I had around 99-100 degrees in the middle, and then I purchased two dozen quail eggs! I set them 8 days ago, and I have been candling (probably way too much) to watch them develop. I still can't believe that it is working! The eggs are sitting directly on top of a dish towel on the heating pad. The dish towel is actually folded over the eggs. I have had pretty intense fluctuations in temperature, and it is definitely not consistent in the "incubator." I've seen temperatures from 93 to 115, so I am pretty shocked that these eggs are developing. I will be even more surprised if they hatch! I removed a couple developing cracked eggs and the glowing infertile eggs this morning, so I am now down to 17 eggs.
    Here are a few pictures of my little eggsperiment:

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    I am using the Sunbeam Xpress Heat heating pad. I've had it set on level 2 for the first 8 days, but now that the embryos are getting a little bigger, I've noticed the temperature sitting a little higher (103-105), so I lowered it to level 1. I've also been turning the eggs 3 times per day. I plan to get the sponge wet to increase humidity for lockdown, but I live in South Carolina, so it's already pretty humid here (50-60%). I also think I can get the dish towel a little damp if I need to.

    If the eggs hatch, I will be thrilled! I have a great place in my yard for them to live, and I could also the occasional help with bug control in my vegetable garden.

    When I was researching for this project, I couldn't find much information from other people who tried using a heating pad to incubate eggs, so I want to use this thread to share this experiment and my results. Who knows if this will actually work, but I will keep this thread updated and let you all know.
     
  2. ChickenGoesRuff

    ChickenGoesRuff Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like a really cool experiment! I don't know if you could get a small, cheap fan in there, but that might make it more of a constant temperature (circulated vs. still air). I guess I was dubious of the heating pad idea at first, although considering how a hen incubates eggs, it's pretty creative and I hope your hatch goes well!
     
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  3. JaeG

    JaeG Overrun With Chickens

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    Quail eggs are great for this as they are very forgiving. Good luck with your hatch - let us know how you get on. Quail are so adorable, especially as chicks.

    I'm a serial egg candler - it's just so amazing seeing those little babies developing. Someone candled a portion of her chicken eggs every day (until lock down) to show that frequent candling has no affect on the growing embryo. So candle away, as long as you do it over something soft (so dropping one isn't a disaster) and don't let them cool down too much - though their core temperature takes a lot longer to adjust to the outside temperature meaning that variations in temperature, as long as they aren't sustained for too long, won't affect the growing embryo.

    Again, good luck!
     
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  4. lizziehux

    lizziehux Out Of The Brooder

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    you are so brave to try this

    I'm using two incubators, extra thermometers and hydrometers, extra insulation And a heated propagator base
    and I'm still a bag of nerves! [​IMG]
    I spent the first todays absolutely convinced the auto egg turners weren't working and sat for hours at a time staring through the bases with the candling torch.

    I think what your trying is great and I wish you all the very best with this experiment
    Good Luck[​IMG]
     
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  5. MegC

    MegC Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you all for the positive words of encouragement! I hope at least a few hatch! Candling the eggs and seeing the chicks inside moving and the hearts beating is absolutely amazing. I can't get enough! In fact, I just saw some of the babies moving around this morning. So cool! I'm pretty sure one of the eggs has a blood ring and probably died. I noticed the ring developing yesterday, but I could still see movement. I'm going to leave it and see if anything happens. I don't want to risk killing an embryo because of my lack of experience!
    Thanks again for the support! Hopefully around April 7th to 10th I'll have some quail babies or share or at least a few lessons learned!
     
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  6. Finnisher

    Finnisher Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The towel might suffocate the chicks when they're close to hatching or when they hatch.
     
  7. ChickNanny13

    ChickNanny13 Overrun With Chickens

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    I'll be following [​IMG] April 7 - 10, marked on my calendar [​IMG] If this works for you, hope you'll give us the details of the "how to". I have switched from a heat lamp to the MHP also, so much better. If it works for your quail, I'm thinking I'll try it on some chicken eggs. I need to study my heating pad's setting vs temp (Sunbeam 732-500) it's got three setting but if the temperature & humidity can but "regulated" some, those are the two most important "ingredients". So excited for you, will be following....
     
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  8. MegC

    MegC Out Of The Brooder

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    I've been thinking about how to adjust the towel so it doesn't get in their way. I think I might just fold it back and put another, thicker towel over the top of the cooler. I'm going to try that today and measure the temperature to see if that will keep it warm enough.
    The sponge in the jar hasn't worked as I thought it might. I tried to see if I could increase the humidity using it, but it didn't work. It's already pretty humid here, and we're supposed to get some rain this week, so I guess I will depend on that to get the humidity up to 70%. Otherwise, I'm sure they'll be fine with the humidity around 60%.
    I also wanted to add that I've had to remove quite a few, so now I'm down to 15 eggs. I purchased the eggs from someone locally, and I think the fertility wasn't the best. 7 of the eggs were infertile. They didn't develop and were glowing when I candled them, so I took them out and opened all of them... Nothing. This could have been because of the temperature fluctuations. I also had to remove two that were badly cracked. The cracked eggs developed for the first week or so, but then quit. There are two others that I left in that I think are also quitters, but I guess we'll see.
    Candling is the coolest thing! I've been looking at them in the morning and evening. I just can't get enough. Hopefully it isn't too bad for them! I love seeing them move around. In a couple eggs, I've been able to see their feet kicking, which is just amazing!
    I messed around with the configuration for a week or so and tested the temperature in different areas on the heating pad and with different levels. I'm sure you could make something work for your eggs @ChickNanny13
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
    Quaillvr likes this.
  9. MegC

    MegC Out Of The Brooder

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    Right now we're wrapping up day 15 of my eggsperiment. I candled this morning, and I'm pretty sure four of the eggs that were against the mason jar stopped developing. I also found another that I'm pretty sure is infertile. I plan to do an eggtopsy of any eggs that don't hatch next week. I took the mason jar and sponge out because it wasn't helping with the humidity like I thought it might, and I think it was just absorbing heat and creating a cool spot around it, which is probably why the eggs around it stopped developing. It always felt cool to the touch, and I really think I should have taken it out a while ago. I could have had four more living eggs! Oh well. As of this morning, I saw movement in 10 eggs. I'm a little sad that I won't be able to candle eggs anymore with my headlamp. It is so amazing to see tiny embryos kicking around!
    To make sure the cooler was arranged for hatching, I folded back the dishtowel so it is no longer covering the eggs. Like I said previously, I also removed the mason jar. I took another towel and draped it over the cooler under the lid, and then closed the lid on top of the towel to try to keep some warmth and humidity in, but also allow some air flow. I'm very curious to see if/when/how these eggs hatch. I know the temperature was not consistent, so it will be interesting to see if hatching times are staggered, if they hatch at all! If I do have a few eggs hatch, I'll post additional information and pictures of what I did to create this makeshift incubator for anyone who is interested.
    A few hours ago I checked on the eggs, and I could have sworn one of them was moving a little. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me or that it was the vibration of thunder from this storm rolling through. I just checked again and saw a tiny external pip in one of the eggs! I can't believe it! I'll keep this thread updated over the next few days.
     
  10. JaeG

    JaeG Overrun With Chickens

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    Exciting!!! I know - I'm a candling addict too. I candled some of my finch eggs the other day and their shells are so thin you get a great view. I could see a little heart beating so clearly.

    Good luck with the hatch.
     

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