Raising backyard chickens has become a popular hobby for many people, and hatching your own chicks may be a satisfying experience. Commercial incubators, on the other hand, can be rather costly. The good news is that building your own incubator is simpler than you might imagine. You can have your very own handmade incubator up and running in no time with a little effort and creativity.

Image Credit: Cluckin

You will require the following materials:

  1. 25-watt Styrofoam cooler lightbulb
  2. Photo frame
  3. Dimmer switch made of mesh or chicken wire
  4. Thermometer/Hygrometer
  5. Baking pan made of aluminium
  6. Sponges for dampness
  7. Extension cord or a heat lamp
  8. Dish mats made of silicone or rubber

Instructions in Steps:

  1. To make a viewing window, first cut a hole in the lid of the Styrofoam cooler. This hole will act as a window through which you can inspect the interior of the incubator without having to open it. Make sure the hole is somewhat smaller than the picture frame’s size.
  2. Attach the Glass: Place the picture frame glass over the hole and secure it using duct tape. This will offer a clean window through which you can view the incubation process without affecting the internal environment.
  3. Install the Dimmer Switch: Splice the dimmer switch into the lightbulb cord. On platforms like as YouTube, you can discover instructional videos that will walk you through the process. This step is critical for maintaining the temperature of the incubator.
  4. Provide ventilation by cutting a hole in the side of the cooler large enough for the cord to fit snugly. It is critical to arrange the hole such that the bulb does not come into contact with the cooler’s walls. This ensures that optimum ventilation and temperature regulation are maintained.
  5. Make a Bulb Cage: Create a protective cage around the lightbulb using mesh or chicken wire. This keeps newly hatched chicks from coming into touch with the bulb and becoming scorched.
  6. Trim the rubber or silicone dish mat to fit the bottom of the aluminium baking pan. In the incubator, place both the mat and the pan. This arrangement will provide the eggs with a solid and pleasant surface.
  7. Control humidity by soaking a sponge in water and placing it inside the incubator. The sponge will aid with humidity regulation. Humidity is essential for effective incubation.
  8. Temperature and Humidity Monitoring: Place the thermometer/hygrometer inside the incubator and close the lid. Adjust the dimmer switch and sponges throughout a four-hour period, or longer, if necessary, to keep a steady temperature of roughly 99°F (37.2°C) and humidity between 40% and 50%. This stability must be maintained for the duration of the incubation phase.
  9. Prepare the Eggs: Once the internal environment has stabilized, label the eggs on one side (for example, with numbers) and set them in the aluminium baking pan. Place them on their sides to mimic how a mother hen might position them. This marking ensures that the eggs are turned correctly.

Image Credit: ThePoultryGuid

Important Things to Remember During Incubation:

  • First 24 Hours: Do not open the incubator during the first 24 hours.
  • Temperature and humidity should be adjusted as needed for ideal circumstances.
  • Important dates include: Mark the first, 18th, and 21st days of the month on your calendar.
  • Turn the eggs three to five times every day until the 18th day.
  • After the 18th day, open the incubator only when absolutely necessary.
  • Increase the humidity to 60%-70% from the 18th day until hatching.
  • Helping Struggling Chicks Hatch: Do not assist struggling chicks in hatching; they must do so naturally.
  • Temperature Fluctuations: Don’t be alarmed if the temperature changes; simply make the required adjustments.
  • Don’t be alarmed if the incubation period exceeds 21 days; some chicks may take a little longer to hatch.

You may build your own DIY incubator and experience the delight of hatching chicks in your own garden by following these steps and directions. This hands-on approach helps you to foster new life while learning important chicken care and incubation skills. Good luck hatching!