A Water Weasel is actually a kid's toy. It's made of a special rubber in a shape like an elongated cheerio. It's full of water, and sometimes come with glitter or little creatures in them. They slip out of your hands as they turn inside out over and over again.
This page was last updated on: January 15, 2010
This site was constructed by me, Scott Shilala, with help from the poultry hobbyist community, and support from my wonderful wife, Kelly Jo.
First of all, you'll have fun playing with it. The beautiful thing is that this is one toy that the kids won't throw away, because as soon as they tire with it, you can use it to control your incubator!!!
How does it work in my incubator?
The water weasel is simple to use. All you do is slip the probe of your digital thermometer into the weasel. Place it in your incubator just as if it was an egg. Once the weasel comes to the bator's temperature you'll have the temperature of the inside of your eggs.
What's the difference?
When you use a thermometer in your incubator you are reading the temperature of the air in your incubator. Most incubators, unless they have a very expensive heating system, have a great variance in air temperature as the bator cools and reheats.
Your thermometer is always rising and falling with the air temperature in the incubator. If you read your thermometer one time, it may say 97 degrees and you're tempted to raise it. If you leave it alone and come back a little later, the thermometer may read 101 degrees. Once again, you're tempted to adjust it. Finally, you do. Later you come back and find that your thermometer reads 90 degrees." What's going on here??", you think.
The weasel/digitherm combination takes all the guesswork out of controlling your incubator's temperature by using the weasel as a "heat sink".
What in the world is a "heat sink"?
A heat sink is simply a mass which holds heat.
The eggs in your incubator hold heat. The inside temperature fluctuates very little and very slowly. The ideal place to measure temperature in your incubator is inside your eggs, because that's where the temperature really matters.
Problem is, you can't hardly jam a probe in your egg if you're expecting it to hatch.
The weasel is the next best thing. It's the size of the egg, has a somewhat comparative density, and holds heat similar to the way that an egg holds heat. It's got a hole through the center, too!!!
Why I'll be dipped...
Once you've applied the weasel to your temperature measuring bag of tricks, you'll find that once in for all you've managed the "bouncing temperature" problem in your incubator.
We all know how absolutely critical temperature control is to a batch of eggs in the bator.
One degree off, you'll be pretty good, but the chicks will have a harder start in life, making it tougher to take care of them. Two degrees off, you're not going to get many chicks, and they are going to be VERY hard to care for, with a list of problems. Three degrees off across the hatch, you might as well forget it.
A lot of times when you read your thermometer you're not seeing what it's trying to tell you.
At least, not the WHOLE picture. This very often means a disastrous hatch.
There's a lot of ways to monitor your incubator's average temperature, but they involve a lot of time, and a lot of math. The weasel/digitherm combo requires that you turn on the switch, read the temperature, turn off the switch, and go back to what you are doing.
Will it work in my incubator?
Odds are real good. The neat thing about the weasel is that whether it's still air or forced air, you set your incubator at 99.5 degrees. Read the weasel, make adjustments, and when all looks good, you are done with the temperature control for the rest of the hatch and you can set your hatching eggs with confidence..
The digital thermometer has a nice long lead on it, and you place it outside your incubator. You can fish the probe through a vent hole, through the door, or lift the top and guide it through.
You can use it with a tray, or with an auto turner.
The thermometer stays outside the bator. Just the weasel and probe go inside.
When you get there, look up the water weasel and the digital thermometer.
Then, send me an email. If you have ay questions, I'll let you know anything you'll need to get started.
How do I get started with this thing?
First, you should set up your incubator as you always do, adjusting the temp to where you think it should be. Next, put your weasel in the bator. Remember that your weasel simulates an egg, so place it in your bator as if it was an egg. Use your digital thermometer by inserting the probe into the weasel. We feed the probe through one of the holes in the incubator, then into the weasel. If your incubator doesn't have a hole for the probe to pass through, carefully make one. Try to get the probe right in the dead center of the weasel. Let it rise to temperature, overnight is best.
Now, check the weasel. You are shooting for 99.5 degrees Farenheit whether your machine is still or forced air. If adjustment is necessary, make them in small increments and wait six or 8 hours between adjustments.
Once you've gotten the weasel where you want it, set your eggs. Make sure to mark down the exact date and time you set the eggs. This is going to be very important.
Wait patiently for your chicks to hatch. When the bulk of your hatch finishes, mark that exact date and time down. Count your days. If the hatch comes off very close to 21 days (for chickens), write down the weasel temperature on the incubator, and follow that number forever.
If you notice your chicks are a day late, increase the temperature one degree. A day early, reduce the temperature one degree.
Use the new number to adjust your incubator, and use the new number for your next batch of eggs. Do things the same way as you did the first time, using the new number.
How'd this hatch come off? Right on time? Mark it on your incubator. If not, make adjustments as before until you get it just right. It won't take long, maybe one or two adjustments. Usually, the first time will do it for you.