How to Build a Homemade Chicken Incubator

Looking for a safe place to put those fertilized chicken eggs where you’ll know they’ll hatch?

You could choose the pricier option and purchase an incubator at a store, or you could embrace your inner handiness by making a homemade chicken incubator.

If the latter sounds like the better option, you’ve come to the right place.

This article will give you all the knowledge you need to craft your chickens’ first home!

Things to Consider Before Making Your Homemade Chicken Egg Incubator

Before building your own homemade chicken incubator, it's best to ponder on the following first:

What are you looking for in an incubator?

It’s a given that you want your incubator to have a stable temperature and humidity, but there are plenty of quirks to these machines – and some models have quite a few more features than others.

One example is the optional automatic egg turner.

If you don't want to go through the process of learning how to make egg incubator automatic turners, you can purchase an incubator in which one is already included.

Click this link to see a few incubator egg turner designs for sale.

However, turning eggs is something that is easily done by hand, so long as you remember to do so!

So if you’re after a basic, functional design that isn’t bogged down with lots of fancy accessories, then it’s a great idea to make a homemade incubator for chicken eggs – not to mention, it’s a much better idea for your wallet!

Do you mind working with wires?

One of the positive traits of this incubator is you won’t have to do any wiring to maintain the right temperature.

However, you won’t have quite as much control over the environment compared to an incubator with a wired thermostat.

If you’re considering building an incubator with a wired thermostat you can check out this homemade egg incubator thermostat wiring diagram and decide if it sounds like something you can handle.

But remember, if you are not familiar or comfortable with wiring, even following a simple incubator circuit diagram could result in error.

At the end of the day, you want your eggs to be in the safest possible environment for the chickens to grow and eventually hatch.

If you are new to incubating chicken eggs, we recommend following our guide instead so you can build an easy homemade incubator for chickens. Check it out!


What You’ll Need

What You Need

  • Styrofoam cooler 
  • Serrated knife
  • Glass panel
  • Duct tape
  • Temperature & humidity gauge
  • Lamp
  • Small bowl & sponge
  • Chicken wire (with ¼ inch squares)
  • 25 watt light bulb
  • Light bulb socket with cord

There’s a lot of customization you can do with the options here as long as they get the job done.

For example:

The container doesn’t have to be a Styrofoam cooler. If you find another container with the right proportions that can be cut in to and sealed by tape that will work just fine.

The glass panel that goes on top of the incubator can be replaced with a plastic one as long as it’s clear enough to give you a proper view inside.

This is especially important in the final days if you want to watch your eggs hatch, as the lid must remain closed!

Also, you may want to change the brightness of your lightbulb if you find yourself using a larger container, so don’t be afraid to try out a few.

Note: This incubator will be able to store upwards of 4 eggs depending on the size of your container. For those looking to hatch a higher volume of eggs at once, it may be a better idea to invest in a cabinet incubator and cabinet incubator kit.

How to Build a Homemade Chicken Incubator in 6 Steps

After knowing what to consider before building your own chicken egg incubator, and preparing things that are needed to start, let us take you into how we build one.

Step # 1. Cut a Hole for Your Window

You’ll begin by using your serrated knife  to remove a square out of the top of your cooler for the glass panel to rest upon.

You won't be removing the entire top – instead, base the size of the square you cut on the size of your panel.

Remember to make the hole smaller than your glass panel, otherwise it will fall through.

Step # 2. Place Panel and Thoroughly Tape Edges

Place your glass panel on top of the hole you've cut making sure it’s evenly spaced around all edges. Now, all you have to do is tape the panel’s edges to the top of your cooler.

Take some extra time to be thorough with the tape in order to avoid leaks.

Step # 3. Bend Chicken Wire into Appropriate Shape

Lay your chicken wire on a flat surface. 1/3 of the way down, bend the chicken wire at a 90 degree angle so the remainder of the section is pointing upward.

Now, bend the last third in another 90-degree angle so it’s pointing right.

Place your bent chicken wire into the incubator with the first section of wire laying flat on the ground, with the middle sticking up, and the last section bent to the right to form a cage for your lightbulb to go underneath.

Step # 4. Cut Hole for Light Bulb and Tape It In

Use your serrated blade to cut a small hole in the middle of the right side of your cooler. The hole only needs to be big enough for your light bulb socket to fit through.

You’ll need to make it airtight using tape after your lightbulb is in, so the smaller the hole, the better.

Once the light bulb socket is snug, get started with that tape. You can stop taping once the light bulb is held firmly in place and you’re sure there aren't any holes or leaks.

Step # 5. Add Wet Sponge and Dish to Your Incubator

In this step, you simply add some water to a small dish and rest a sponge on top. This will give you control over the humidity of your incubator.

If you want it more humid, add more water.

On the contrary, you can decrease humidity by emptying out the water or even removing the sponge altogether.

After placing your temperature gauge in the corner furthest from the lightbulb, you can set the dish right next to it.

Step # 6 . Calibrate Incubator to Correct Temperature/Humidity

Before you place your eggs inside, you need to make sure the environment inside the incubator is correctly calibrated.

To do this you’ll need to let your incubator sit for a bit, while you pay attention to your temperature/humidity gauge. Connect the top of your cooler and give the incubator a good couple hours to warm up. 

The optimal incubator temperature for chicken eggs is 97-101 degrees Fahrenheit (36-38 degrees Celsius).

The humidity should be about 55% for the first 18 days, and then increased to 70% for the last few days before hatching.

If the temperature needs to be raised, try taping up the incubator more thoroughly. If you wish to lower the temperature, you can poke small holes in the side to let some heat out.

If you’re more of a visual learner, you can check out this video for the steps:

That’s it, you’re all done!

You now know how to make a homemade incubator from scratch! Assuming you already have fertilized eggs, you can get started ASAP.

Note: Are you looking to find a good chicken for laying eggs? Take a look at this list of the ten best egg laying chickens. And while you’re waiting for your eggs to hatch, take some time and read this guide on raising baby chicks.

A Few Final Notes

There’s quite a few benefits to raising your own chickens.

Incubating chickens eggs is an amazing part of the experience and you don’t want to miss out because of a faulty incubator.

Building this incubator will give you a reliable space where you can be sure your eggs are safe – and give you a good view of the process!

Now you have the incubator - Why not have a closer look at How To Start Hatching Chicken Eggs - The Complete Guide

Thanks for stopping by! As always, never be afraid to discuss your opinions in the comments and give this article a share if you enjoyed it!

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