Build Your Own Egg Incubator

A poultry farmer offers up the lessons she learned after constructing her own incubation cabinet to hatch rare heritage chicks.

| February/March 2017

  • The author transfers eggs to this well-insulated cabinet three days before they hatch.
    Photo by Julie Gauthier
  • The hatcher control panel is the “brain” of the unit and keeps the temperature steady.
    Photo by Julie Gauthier
  • The unit’s ceramic heating element, which is fixed to the ceiling of the heating compartment, is safe, durable, and efficient.
    Photo by Julie Gauthier
  • A terrarium heat mat is installed on the floor of the unit to provide supplemental heat. It stays at a steady 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
    Photo by Julie Gauthier
  • The wire racks and pine frames promote good air flow throughout, so the embryos and hatchlings have plenty of fresh air.
    Photo by Julie Gauthier

My current homemade hatcher must be the fifth or sixth version I’ve built, though I’ve lost track of my total number of DIY adventures in incubation. Further, this homemade hatcher has undergone three major redesigns. I’m now satisfied with its performance, but I’ll never quit tinkering with it. I use it to hatch approximately 600 chicks of rare heritage turkeys, geese, chickens, and ducks during the January-to-June breeding season each year.

When I set out to build my own egg incubator about five years ago, I had several goals in mind:

• Multi-stage incubation (incubate 150 chicken or duck eggs and hatch 30 eggs at one time).

• Steady temperature in an unheated garage in January.

• Attractiveness that would match a nice piece of furniture.

Designing a DIY Incubator

Originally, I wanted a multi-stage incubator that would do it all: incubate on automatically turned racks and hatch on a stationary bottom shelf. It didn’t take long for me to abandon that idea after realizing that hatching is a messy process and that clean, quietly incubating eggs shouldn’t have to deal with commotion and dander fallout. Also, it’s nearly impossible to maintain ideal, steady humidity and temperature conditions for both hatching and incubating within a single unit. These days, I transfer eggs from one of several incubators to this unit three days before the eggs hatch. As a hatcher, this unit can keep up to 150 hatchlings healthy and happy. The self-turning mechanism isn’t used routinely, but it still works, and in case of an emergency, I can use the cabinet as an incubator once again. Here’s how I put together my DIY incubator (see my Materials List for a rundown of the supplies I used).

5/6/2019 5:06:58 PM

Do you happen to have the blueprints to this? I would love to build this!!

2/16/2018 10:23:50 PM

Admire your ingenuity and integrity. Brava!!



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