WHAT ARE INCUBATORS
Incubators are made in varying sizes and designs. It uses different types of fuel (e.g. oil lamp, electricity, etc) to supply the heat required.
Function of an incubator:
Incubators are machines used for hatching fertilised eggs artificially. It takes 21 days for fertilized eggs of domestic fowl to develop and hatch in incubators.
Types of incubators
include natural draught portable type and forced draught or cabinet type.
Conditions for Incubator to function:
Before fertilised eggs are placed, the incubator should be run for 12-24 hours. For incubators to function properly, they require the following conditions:
(1) Temperature range of 37oC – 39oC
(2) Relative humidity of 50 – 70%; at optimum level being 60%
(3) Adequate ventilation.
COMPONENTS OF AN INCUBATOR
An incubator is made up of a setter and a hatcher. The fertilized eggs are kept in the setter for 18days while for the remaining three days before hatching, the eggs are placed in the hatcher.
The components of an incubator are:
(i) heat source e.g. lantern, heater or electric heater
(ii) control unit, damper or thermostat; it regulates the temperature of the incubator
(iii) heat distribution unit;
(iv) relative humidity mediation unit which can be a basin of water, cotton-wool or humidifiers
(v) felt tray – (to hold eggs and reduce cracking) or egg racks or egg trays;
(vi) thermometer – to detect the degree of hotness or coldness of the machine
(vii) fan or air circulation unit or vent for ventilation
(viii) egg turning device for regular turning of eggs
(ix) insulator, to prevent heat loss
Problems Associated with the Functioning of the Components.
The problems that may lead to malfunction or non-functioning of t components of incubators include:
(i) If it is electrical incubator, power failure and irregular power sup would arise, but if it is kerosene heat incubator, the problem that will arise include running out of kerosene.
(ii) Thermostat: High or low voltage or current.
(iii) Fan: Irregular power supply; over-heating through over-usage; loose nuts of the parts; improper lubrication of the movable parts.
(iv) Thermometer: Problems include: cracking or breakage of the bulb/thermometer; loss of sensitivity.
(v) Ventilation: Blockage of vents.
(vi) Water basin: Leakages; drying up of water contents.
(vii) I n s u I a t o r Malfunctioning of the insulator unit.
(viii) Turning device for egg tray Lubrication of the movable joints or parts; loose nuts.
EFFORTS TO ENSURE UNIFORMITY OF HATCHING OF EGGS IN INCUBATOR
The steps that should be taken to ensure that eggs hatch at about the same time include:
(i) setting eggs uniformly in the tray
(ii) timely and regular turning of eggs;
(iii) ensure suitable environmental condition such as ventilation and relative humidity
(iv) proper handling of the eggs
(v) setting eggs at the same time
(vi) select eggs of the same sizes
(vii) Holding period for eggs before setting should not be more than 14days.
Operations Needed after the Hatching of Eggs in the Hatchery
Activities or operations normally carried out after hatching of eggs in the hatchery include:
(i) sexing of chicks;
(ii) drying of chicks;
(iii) intra-ocular (I) NDV vaccination;
(iv) sorting out abnormal chicks;
(v) Packing normal chicks.
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