Chicken eggs need to be incubated within 10 days of being laid to make sure that they hatch. If you don’t want to spend too much money on a store bought incubator, you can also make your own for emergency situations. Just follow the steps below to make your own emergency chicken egg incubator.
Step 1: The first step to making your own chicken egg incubator is to get a Styrofoam box and a pane of glass or clear plastic. Use the pane of glass to trace a square in the lid of the Styrofoam box and then use a serrated knife to cut away the traced square. Make sure to cut about ½ inch inside of the square so that the pane is supported on all sides. Tape the pane firmly into place over the cut hole with duct tape so that it is air tight.
Step 2: Cut a hole 4 inches above the bottom of the box on one corner for the light and thermostat. You can use a pre-wired thermostat and light bulb setup or you can do your own wiring; this will take slightly more knowledge. If you are doing your own wiring make sure that you know what you are doing, make sure the power is turned off when working on it, and always make sure that you attach the wires to the bulb and the thermostat properly. To see if it works right, set the thermostat to 99F and test to see if the light bulb turns on and off when the temperature goes over or under the set temperature on the thermostat.
Step 3: You now need to insert the fan into the box. Put the fan near the top of the box. Use some leftover Styrofoam or even Legos to create a space between the fan and the box to leave room for adequate airflow. Attach the fan to the Styrofoam spacers to make sure that they are secure; use some metal wiring or hangers to make sure that it sticks properly. If necessary only run the wiring through the box with holes as small as possible. Once again this will take some knowledge of electricity. After this has been done, plug in the fan and turn it on to see if it works properly.
Step 4: The next step is to calibrate both the thermometer and the hygrometer to give proper readings. Mix a quarter cup of salt with a half a cup of water to make a thick slurry in a cup. Put your thermometer and hygrometer in an airtight bag with the slurry. After several hours the hygrometer should read 75 percent humidity; this means that your hygrometer has been calibrated. If the hygrometer reads 80 percent you need to always subtract 5 percent to get the actual humidity levels.
Step 5: The next step is to install the wire flooring. Get a wired grate and cut it about 2 inches bigger than the size of the box. Remove a 2 by 2 inch square from each corner of the wire grate. Then fold down the edges so the corners meet neatly and so that the wire grate is supported by the edges you have folded down. Place a bowl of water on the floor of the box (only place the bowl without water at first to make sure that it doesn’t get in the way of the wire grating) and then place the wire grating over top of it; this will be the floor of your incubator.
Step 6: This step involves using hardware cloth or wire grating to create a safe spot for the light bulb. Simply bend the grating to form a square around the bulb and attach it to the Styrofoam walls. You need to put a piece of tin or aluminum foil between the wired grate and the light bulb to direct the heat away from the nearest eggs.
Step 7: The next step is to create 4 ventilation holes. Cut 4 holes that are each ½ inch by 1 inch big around the box slightly under the level of the grated wire flooring that you have created. Be sure to save the plugs that you have cut out to plug the holes for the last few days before hatching. The eggs need oxygen and ventilation and these holes will ensure that. You may also cut a small hole in the lid which can be covered in duct tape to help regulate temperature and humidity.
Step 8: This step is very simple and all you have to do is to put water in the bowl at the base of the box. This will provide for humidity as well as a thermal mass to keep the moisture and temperature levels in the incubator stable. Be sure to never let the water bowl go completely dry because the eggs need moisture.
Step 9: You need to test your new incubator before putting the eggs in it. Simply run it for a couple hours to see if it can keep the humidity at around 50 percent and the temperature at around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Once this has been done the incubator is complete and ready to go.