A student from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) has invented a bio-gas incubator which could be more efficient and affordable as compared to electric, solar and kerosene incubators which are already in the market.
While the design of the incubator is affordable, portable, user friendly and easy to maintain, Shawn Kasoa, 23, the brain behind the incubator says he is unable to mass-produce it for the market.
“The main challenge I face is lack of resources to produce adequate incubators for the already existing demands from farmers. One incubator that can hold 200 eggs goes for Sh50,000,” he said.
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How bio-gas incubator works
The incubator has four air ducts on each side that allows circulation of air. The egg tray is held in a rotating position that is manually operated to ensure that all parts of the eggs are heated. The egg tray can contain 200 eggs at one go and is rotated twice a day with average humidity value of 56.46 per cent in the incubator.
The renewable energy student says turning prevents the embryo from sticking to the shell membranes, which happens when the eggs are left in one position for too long. The gas heating element is controlled manually to stabilise the temperatures within the incubator.
“If the temperature stays at either extreme for several days, the hatch may be reduced. Overheating is much more critical than under-heating, it will speed up rate of development causing abnormal embryos,” he adds.
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According to Kasoa, the incubator could be better compared to electric ones that rely on electricity and which can cause farmers big losses in case of power outages other than the power bills that are incurred.
“Power outages during incubation results to lower hatch rates that can affect quality of the chicks produced further reducing farmers’ earnings,” said Kasoa.
“This egg incubator is best-suited for farmers who produce chicks especially for sale as it allows them use the homemade renewable energy which mostly ends up unused in the farms and which provides steady power to meet high hatching rates.”
In addition, he rates the incubator’s efficiency above solar incubators that rely on sunlight and can be affected in case of low or no sunlight energy. Kerosene incubators also come with every time fuel bills that may hike production costs.
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Bio-gas incubators can be used to hatch the eggs of poultry such as ducks, turkeys, geese, guinea fowls and ostriches and this further helps the parent birds to continue laying eggs without destruction.
“A broody hen can hatch just about 10-12 eggs at once in 21 days, which reduces its productivity as it takes time to incubate and hatch the chicks. Relying on this natural type of incubation, with a growing human population, is folly, hence the need for artificial incubation. This way, a female bird concentrates on laying eggs while the incubation is done artificially,” said Kasoa.