It’s been a while since we reported on the Hexahatch project. Here are the results of the first test. We started collecting eggs in an insulated chest in Marcin’s room the week before April 25th, when we put 48 eggs in the incubator, and then put in 6 fresh eggs the next day. Over the next 18 days we made sure to keep the eggs turned and to check the temperature. We didn’t have a good way to candle the eggs so we just waited for the results. After 18 days we stopped rotating the eggs for the next 3 days to let the chicks hatch. 4 days later I found a hatched chick walking around the incubator. It looked like he had hatched in the tube right behind the left light bulb.
We waited a few more days but no more chicks hatched. It seems that the one that hatched was from the batch of 10 fresh eggs that were placed in the incubator right after being picked up. The other ones must have gotten too cold or too hot in the insulated chest and thus failed to develop. There also could have been a lack of fresh air in the incubator.
The next phase will be to troubleshoot the first prototype in several areas:
*Have a good way to candle the eggs so we can know if they are developing properly or not.
*Switch to oneÂ incandescent light bulb instead of two florescent bulbs to simplify the design and since the left light socket kept damaging the bulbs in it.
*Drill an air hole in the side.
*Make a view port for the thermometer so the door doesn’t have to be opened to check the temperature.
*Install a new threaded rod, since our first one got bent in the testing process.
*Install the automatic timer and motor.
*Firmly fix the threaded rod with washers and nuts so it can’t shift around on the coupler and motor.
*Use only fresh eggs until we have a good place with a stable controlled temperature to store eggs.
*Hatch out another batch of eggs.
The one chick that hatched seemed to do fine for a few days, but then he fell into the water dish and get wet and cold. Once he dried out he seemed ok again, but he kept falling into the water every other day. I put him in with the other chicks we got from a friend and he seemed to do ok.
A few days later he got his head stuck in the cage and seemed weaker. The next day Marcin found him dead in the cage and put him in the compost. There were a few cool nights so we think that he may have died from getting too cold. The next chicks will need to be kept warmer. Chicks need to be kept at about 90 F the first week, and can survive at about 10 F lower each following week.
The second prototype design will need to be made out of different materials, as the styrofoam insulation on prototype 1 got scratched up very easily and is not ‘lifetime design.’ We’re looking into using some kind of insulation board with metal flashing on both sides.
In other chicken news several of the chickens have hatched a few chicks in the nesting boxes in the goat pen. The nesting boxes are pretty high though and the hatched chicks fell out and the chickens went to take care of them on the ground. Two of the brooding chickens had thought that the chicks were theirs so they all jumped down, leaving the rest of the eggs to cool off and not hatch. Guy tried building a ramp up to the nesting boxes but the chicks didn’t go back up.