P.H. Jacobs

Space in the Rural is valuable, and so important a subject as artificial incubation cannot perhaps be made entirely plain to a novice in a few articles; but as interested parties have written for additional information, it may interest others to answer them here. Among the questions asked are: "Does the incubator described in the Rural dispense entirely with the use of a lamp, using at intervals a bucket of water to maintain proper temperature? I fear this will not be satisfactory unless the incubator is kept in a warm room or cellar."

All incubators must be kept in a warm location, whether operated by a lamp or otherwise. The warmer the room or cellar, the less warmth required to be supplied. Bear in mind that the incubator recommended has four inches of sawdust surrounding it, and more sawdust would still be an advantage. The sawdust is not used to protect against the outside temperature, but to absorb and hold a large amount of heat, and that is the secret of its success. The directions given were to first fill the tank with boiling water and allow it to remain for 24 hours. In the meantime the sawdust absorbs the heat, and more boiling water is then added until the egg-drawer is about 110 or 115 degrees. By this time there is a quantity of stored heat in the sawdust. The eggs will cool the drawer to 103. The loss of heat (due to its being held by the sawdust) will be very slow. All that is needed then is to supply that which will be lost in 12 hours, and a bucket of boiling water should keep the heat about correct, if added twice a day, but it may require more, as some consideration must be given to fluctuations of the temperature of the atmosphere. The third week of incubation, owing to animal heat from the embryo chicks, a bucket of boiling water will sometimes hold temperature for 24 hours.

No objection can be urged against attaching a lamp arrangement, but a lamp is dangerous at night, while the flame must be regulated according to temperature. The object of giving the hot water method was to avoid lamps. We have a large number of them in use (no lamps) here, and they are equal to any others in results.

With all due respect to some inquirers, the majority of them seem afraid of the work. Now, there is some work with all incubators. What is desired is to get rid of the anxiety. I stated that a bucket of water twice a day would suffice. I trusted to the judgment of the reader somewhat. Of course, if the heat in the egg drawer is 90 degrees, and the weather cold, it may then take a wash boiler full of water to get the temperature back to 103 degrees, but when it is at 103 keep it there, even if it occasionally requires two buckets of boiling water. To judge of what may be required, let us suppose the operator looks at the thermometer in the morning, and it is exactly 103 degrees. He estimates that it will lose a little by night, and draws off half a bucket of water. At night he finds it at 102. Knowing that it is on what we term "the down grade," he applies a bucket and a half (always allowing for the night being colder than the day). As stated, the sawdust will not allow the drawer to become too cold, as it gives off heat to the drawer. And, as the sawdust absorbs, it is not easy to have the heat too high. One need not even look at the drawer until the proper times. No watching - the incubator regulates itself. If a lamp is used, too much heat may accumulate.

The flame must be occasionally turned up or down, and the operator must remain at home and watch it, while during the third week he will easily cook his eggs.

The incubator can be made at home for so small a sum (about $5 for the tank, $1 for faucet, etc., with 116 feet of lumber) that it will cost but little to try it. A piece of glass can be placed in front of the egg drawer, if preferred. If the heat goes down to 90, or rises at times to 105, no harm is done. But it works well, and hatches, the proof being that hundreds are in use. I did not give the plan as a theory or an experiment. They are in practical use here, and work alongside of the more expensive ones, and have been in use for four years. To use a lamp attachment, all that is necessary is to have a No. 2 burner lamp with a riveted sheet-iron chimney, the chimney fitting over the flame, like an ordinary globe, and extending the chimney (using an elbow) through the tank from the rear, ending in front. It should be soldered at the tank. The heat from the lamp will then pass through the chimney and consequently warm the surrounding water. - Rural New-Yorker.

[For description and illustrations of this incubator see Supplement, No. 630.]