Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Incubation Check In

My little electric frying pan egg incubator experiment continues. 

I've been adding an egg or two almost every day.  I'm aiming for the ones that are still warm when we bring them in from the coop.  I'm not sure how cool an egg can get, and still be viable.  On one side of each egg I write the date.  On the other side, I mark it with an F for fresh, a W for warm, or an X.  All of the eggs are fresh, but the F eggs are picked up on a second or third trip to the coop.  I know they're only an hour or two old, but they've already cooled.  The X eggs are from the morning egg collection.  They're all cooled.  Writing on opposite sides helps me to see which eggs I've rolled over, and which ones still need to rotate.

The temperature in the pan is staying pretty close to 100°F now.  You really do lose a lot of heat when you take the lid off.  The first few days I was constantly fiddling with the temperature.  There was a remarkable difference between the day time and overnight, but not what I expected.  I expected to need to turn the heat up on the pan overnight, as the ambient temperature of the house cooled.  However, since I wasn't lifting the lid at all through the night, I found that by morning the inside of the pan would be closer to 110°F.  Too hot!  I also found by moving my thermometer around in the frying pan, that the area right above the heating element was much higher than the rest of the pan.  I added a second microfiber cloth to compensate.  I think most of the kinks are worked out, and the temperature is more stable, although by morning I'm still finding about a two degree rise.

5 days after I started warming the eggs, I decided to take a peak.  You're supposed to be able to see the blood spot and veins by 4 days if your egg is fertilized and growing.

I tried candling the first egg with a candle.  In addition to burning my finger, I managed to cover the egg with a layer of black smoky soot.  I switched to a lamp.  I can see a dark spot on one of the eggs, and what looks like an air pocket at one end.  I can watch the dark spot move as I tilt the egg.  I don't see anything on the other eggs, just the glow of the lamp through them.  The first egg, by lamp light, doesn't seem transparent at all.  I might have accidentally cooked it.  I really don't know.  I put all of the eggs back in the incubator.  Until I see an egg that I can definitely say looks to be developing, I won't be tossing out any of them.  I'll keep a wait and see approach.


  1. Oh, Wendy, you sound like me, fiddling to get it just right, and then burning yourself. I have a broody hen. We need fertilized eggs! I have to take eggs away from Thelma. She just sits on the empty nest for hours even when the eggs are gone. there is a requirement for a certain amount of humidity in the air in the brooder. However, I actually know nothing about the process. Good luck.

  2. Yes, I keep the cloths moist, adding about two tablespoons of water every day.

    I have a little black hen who is either getting broody, or just cranky. She's sitting in the same nest box every day, and pecking me when I take her eggs.I'm thinking about building her a bigger box and adding a light bulb to it once the weather gets a little warmer, and maybe we might end up with a few chicks after all.

    You could check at your feed store for fertilized eggs. Sometimes people will sell them, or they might know where you can get some.