Follow these easy steps to make an emergency brooder for your birds.
Stress seems to be a common reason most birds fall prey to illnesses. Most animals and people have the viruses and bacteria in their bodies that can make them sick if they become too prolific. Stress lowers the resistance of the animal or person, and if the animal or person becomes chilled, the body fights the chill and doesn't keep innocuous organisms in line. The organisms build quickly, resulting in sickness. Whether illness or accident, an emergency incubator can increase the chances of your pet's survival. By raising the surrounding temperature, the bird's body can focus on fighting the organisms, not just sustaining its body temperature.
Another use for the emergency incubator is for new chicks that are being hand-fed. The temperature under the hen is about 100 Fahrenheit. Your 70-Fahrenheit house is too cold for these naked little birds. To expose them to cooler temperatures increases the stress level on their bodies. Increase the temperature around them by placing them in an emergency incubator.
I first used my emergency incubator when I hatched duck eggs in my classroom. The new ducks hatched in a 101-Fahrenheit temperature that I brought down to 95 Fahrenheit for the first few days, then to 90 Fahrenheit for the first week. I gradually lowered the temperature until it was about room temperature.
Another time, my oldest parakeet seemed to be well in the morning, but later that day when I went past the cage, she was lying on the floor on her back, feet up in the air, apparently dead. When I reached in to pick her up, she was still warm and living. I quickly put her in the emergency incubator at 90 Fahrenheit. A few hours later, she was sitting up. By the next day, she was jumping around trying to get out. I did keep her in for four days, then reduced the temperature slowly one day before putting her back in her cage. She lived another three years before she died old and happy.
Directions for Making an Emergency Incubator
String of indoor working Christmas tree lights.
White Styrofoam cooler
Clear plastic top from a corsage or salad container
Piece of hardware cloth (wire)
Food tray from TV dinner that fits the bottom of the cooler.
You will need a pencil and a utility knife or a small kitchen knife.
1. Put the food tray on the bottom of the cooler to hold water for moisture in your incubator.
2. Cut the hardware cloth (wire) to fit just above the food tray. Make the cut just a fraction larger than the opening. You can slightly bend it to get it in place, and then the end wires dig into the foam to hold it in place.
3. Take one side of the clear plastic corsage holder (once I also used a coffee cake container), and place it on the outside of the cooler 1 inch above your wire. Trace around the plastic. Use your utility knife or kitchen knife to cut a 1/4 inch inside your drawn line.
Now when you put the plastic in the inside and push it through the hole, that extra 1/4 inch will hold it in place. Use your duct tape on the inside to seal for drafts and to secure onto the cooler. You now have a window to watch your bird.
4. Place a thermometer inside across from the window.
5. Invert the top of the cooler and cut three holes large enough to get a Christmas light through. Put a light down in each hole but not touching anything. Use duct tape to hold in place. Remember that foam melts, so do not let it touch. It could start a fire. Cut an extra hole in the top for venting and cover with duct tape. If your incubator gets too warm, loosen a bulb or open the vent hole. If it is too cool, add another light.
I keep my burned out bulbs and put them in all the sockets that are not being used in the incubator. Empty sockets could cause shocks. Otherwise you have to loosen the bulbs so they are not on.