How to make a poultry incubator

Updated November 21, 2016

Making your own poultry incubator is an easy way to hatch chicks. Most of the things you need to construct an incubator can be found around your house. Kids enjoy helping with the construction and then being rewarded with the hatching of the eggs. This is how most farmers hatched eggs before commercial styrofoam incubators became widely available. Follow these steps to make your own incubator.

Gather all of your materials together. Any cardboard box will do. The light fixture can be taken out of an old lamp or bought from any hardware centre. If it has a metal globe around the bulb, remove it.

On the outside of the box on one end, measure 27.5 cm (11 inches) from the bottom of the box in the centre of one side. Mark this spot. Center your light fixture over your mark and trace around it. Use a utility knife to cut around your trace mark.

Insert the light fixture into the hole from the outside. It should fit snugly. From the other side, screw in a 60-watt light bulb.

Line the box with a towel. Add the thermometer directly under the light bulb. Fill the small dish with water and set it in the end opposite the light bulb.

Take your flat piece of cardboard and cover half of it with foil. Place the flat piece on top of the incubator with the foil side directly over the light bulb.

Plug the unit in and turn on the light. Let the temperature stabilise at 37.2 degrees C (99 degrees F). To control the temperature, slide the top back and forth. The more open the top is, the lower the temperature will be.


Turn your eggs a half turn every day until the last three days of incubation. Marking the top of the eggs with an "X" makes it easier to remember. First day "X" on top, the next day "X" on bottom and so on. Keep your water dish full at all times. In the last week of incubation, the eggs will produce their own heat, so watch your temperature carefully and adjust accordingly.


Never allow anything to directly touch the light bulb. A fire will result.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard box at least 60 by 60 cm (2 by 2 feet)
  • Flat piece of cardboard 5 cm (2 inches) larger than top of box
  • Aluminium foil 30 cm (12 inches) wide by 6.2 cm (2 1/2 feet) long
  • Loose light fixture
  • 60-watt light bulb
  • Thermometer
  • Small dish
  • Towel or old pillowcase
  • Utility knife
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