Simulated Natural Nest Incubation~Experiment #1 So it begins....

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Beekissed, Feb 11, 2014.

  1. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Well....I've got it all set up and now it's step out on faith time, so I prayed over the nest and will see what God can do. [​IMG] I'm experimenting with incubation in a natural as can get setting to see if I can hatch chicks in this manner. This is my first foray into incubating chicks, so total newbie here. I've read up, watched videos, listened for years about other hatches but this will be my first.

    I got to thinking about how we all do it artificially and about how the hen does it and thought maybe I could blend the two and get good results. I'm using soil/leaf litter as my humidity source and will check it when I turn the eggs to see if it needs moistening. I'm using a heating pad for heat and a feather filled pad for an insulator over that pad.

    I will be turning the eggs by hand a couple of times a day and also letting air get into the nest at that time. I'll also rotate eggs from out on the edge to in to the middle, randomly, much like a hen would do when she shuffles eggs and I'll do this as I turn. I've not marked the eggs for turning...I intend to just "peck" them a little to roll them, much like a hen does. It will all be very random, much like a hen...she doesn't mark an X or an O to make sure she is turning them all equally and fully.

    At day seven or eight I'll candle just one egg from the middle of the nest to see if a chick is developing, but after that I will not handle them or pick them up...just use my finger nail to move them in the nest for "turning". I won't take out any eggs that are not developing because I won't know they are or if they are not. I'll just go on faith on that part of the incubation.

    ***These eggs are from pullets that are mated to a very young and not very vigorous cockerel and I've seen fertility in some of the eggs we've been eating but not all, so this hatch may be affected by these variances...but I still expect a good outcome. *****

    Step 1: Lined a cardboard box with a trash bag and placed moist bedding/soil/leaf litter from my coop in a layer over that. Placed a couple of handfuls of snow on top of that for more moisture.

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    Step 2: Made a "nest" on top of that with some fresh hay.

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    Step 3: Eggs collected over the past week from three different breeds of chickens, will choose the most uniform, large, clean eggs from the group~chose 18 eggs for this hatch.

    Heat source for "broody": 12x15 in. heating pad with 6 digital settings.

    Thermometer: Meat thermometer that has been tested against my old mercury style thermometer for the last 2 days and is always right on the mark, exactly.

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    Step 4: Arranged eggs in nest with pointy ends toward the middle, WRs/Dels/BAs from left to right. Covered lightly with disinfected rooster feathers for added insulation and humidity control.

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    Step 5: Inserted meat thermometer into side of box, placing tip in middle of the nest, between two eggs....you can just see the pointy metal tip in the pic above.

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    Step 6: Covered eggs with fake broody heat, warm side down.
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    Step 7: Placed box on windowsill in the coolest room in the house...gets slightly warmer when evening sun hits it but have placed a feather padded pillow between box and window to insulate against direct warmth on the box. I want some temp fluctuation because that's how it is out on a real broody nest, so I'm not much into controlling all ambient temps. Have old thermometer standing by to monitor temps in the window sill so I can compare them to the temps in the nest.

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    Step 8: Covered heat source with a feather quilted(below) and fleece covered pad~The Little Red Hen~who will later also brood the chicks while stretched over a fence wire frame and holding the heating pad in her "belly". The chicks will get under her much like they do the heat plates for chicks...but for a much cheaper price and a more controllable temperature gauge.

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    So...that's my experiment. I was going to conduct this on the floor of my coop but for this first time I'd like to monitor it more closely to see how widely the temperatures fluctuate in this setting. That's why I chose the coldest room, so that it would still be much like outdoors. I'll run the vaporizer in that room each time it rains or snows outside to simulate the increased moisture in the air and will also add a little moisture to the "ground" under the nest when needed. This morning at daybreak this room was 40 degrees in that windowsill. It was around 5 degrees outside at that time.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2014
    4 people like this.
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I started out my heating pad on the first temp setting in order to slowly warm the chilled eggs and the cold nest. I turned it up every 15 min. to a new setting until I hit the highest setting and will keep it there until the nest temps start to climb, then I will lower it one setting at a time until I meet in the middle at 99.5+/- and will try to regulate it there. I think, once the dense, moist materials of the nest warm up, they will be easier to regulate than the ambient temps in a foam cooler.

    I think the feathers and hay will hold the temps well, while the soil may cool as the night approaches, just like in a normal nesting situation. Right now it's moist in the nest, much like it feels under a broody...I know that's only "feels like" from past experience of reaching under broodies, but it should work to control humidity just as well as sitting a bowl of water or a wet sponge inside a regular incubator.

    This is all very much speculation...but I'm betting all the very first efforts to incubate eggs artificially were much like this, just trial and error.
     
  3. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Top egg surface has reached 100*! Turned down the heating pad a notch and turned the cool side of the eggs upward so as to be warmed on the other side. But...it occurred to me...there is always a cooler side in a natural nest and one cannot keep turning the eggs to get a uniformity of heat. They will just have to be warmed from one side until they are turned a couple of times a day. I want this to mimic a broody hen as much as possible.

    Will be watching how much that inner nest temps change as night time comes on and that windowsill cools down. I'll try to keep reporting on the ability of this type of incubation to regulate temps.
     
  4. Hinotori

    Hinotori Silver Feathers Premium Member

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    This should be a very interesting experiment. I love you're fake hen there. I'll be reading as you go along.
     
  5. ocap

    ocap Overrun With Chickens

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    great fun !
    I recall an incubator for endangered species that had a membrane that touched the top of the eggs, very expensive incubator.

    edited for grammar
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2014
  6. Meinertzhagens

    Meinertzhagens Out Of The Brooder

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    You've got my attention! I can't wait to read more!
     
  7. BirdbyGavin1103

    BirdbyGavin1103 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Awesome idea! I'll be keeping an eye on how this works out for you.
     
  8. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    You have never incubated chicks before??????
     
  9. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Nope! Always let a broody do all the work...but right now I find myself without a broody. Someone had to pitch in. [​IMG]
     
    2 people like this.
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Sitting on a perfect 99.5 right now!!! [​IMG] That's on the highest setting, so I'll be watching if it creeps up so that I can turn it down. This is kinda fun!!! Now I know why you folks are always whipping out the Eazy Bake ovens and cooking some chicks.
     

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