How to Incubate Eggs Without an Incubator

How to Incubate Eggs Without an Incubator

There are various methods you can use to incubate eggs without an incubator, with one of the easiest being finding a broody hen.

Broody hens have excellent maternal instincts and will sit on their eggs until they hatch, which requires patience and attentive care in tending them as you must open them 3 to 5 times daily to turn them over.

Build Your Own Incubator

If you don’t feel ready to purchase an incubator yet, assembling one yourself from household items can be more economical and provide the satisfaction of reusing items that would have otherwise been discarded.

While this approach requires patience and careful attention to maintain temperature and humidity stability.

Start with a styrofoam cooler and cut a hole large enough for the light bulb socket, insert a 25W bulb, duct tape the socket both inside and outside the cooler, create a false bottom from chicken mesh as desired, provide ventilation via fan as well as provide water storage receptacle for eggs.

Place the thermometer probe in the middle of your container, halfway from its base. This will give an accurate reading for egg temperature; be sure to monitor this regularly and adjust accordingly – any deviation of more than two degrees either higher or lower can kill chicks!

If you cannot afford a thermometer, a glass cup fitted with a sponge will do just as well – the sponge will absorb any extra water that collects on its surface to raise humidity levels, keeping temperatures between 99.5 degrees and 60-75% will help ensure successful hatching of eggs.

Find a Broody Hen

Many chicken owners opt to have a broody hen sit and incubate their eggs instead of purchasing or building an incubator, since she provides more efficient incubation than artificial incubators with a higher hatch rate.

A chicken egg requires 21 days to incubate before hatching; during that time period the broody will take care in keeping warm while feeding her chicks.

Broody hens will spend most of their time sitting on their eggs, only leaving to eat and drink. When disturbed or their nest disturbed, they become extremely aggressive; pecking or chase away other hens from laying within her territory may even occur.

Broody hens will usually stop laying eggs once they have collected an clutch of 8-12 and are focused on hatching them, so it’s important to closely monitor her so you know when she has completed her task and is no longer broody.

They will return to regular daily behavior, such as laying eggs and roosting at night as signs they no longer require special treatment.

To control broody hens, isolate her in a quiet space without drafts and predators such as family pets. Provide her with a small box or dog kennel large enough for her to move about but not so large that it restricts her. Offer food, water and bedding daily until her behavior has returned to normal.

Buy a Commercial Incubator

When purchasing an incubator, its manual will include instructions for setting and hatching eggs. Make sure you read this thoroughly to ensure you use appropriate temperatures and humidity levels – varying these levels could have adverse effects on the embryo in an egg.

As this process can be messy, look for an incubator with an easy cleanup process and transparent lid so you can monitor hatching eggs.

Turn them several times daily for even development and prevent their edges from adhering to their shell; some commercial incubators even feature automatic egg turners to save you the effort of doing it manually.

After 21 days, you should witness your chick wriggling about in its egg. Over time, it will begin pecking a hole to breathe through its lungs, once free from its shell it will rest in an incubator for at least 12 hours while its lungs adjust to air outside its shell.

At this stage, it is critical not to touch an egg because doing so could damage and kill its chick. Observing the egg can help beginners as it will indicate whether or not its chick is alive – if its yolk turns from clear yellow to clear yellow-brown in color it indicates death.

Otherwise if there is a red ring around its center this means there was once an embryo but it died prematurely; alternatively you could use a light to observe blood vessels within 7 to 10 days after incubation has begun.

Build a Homemade Incubator

If you want to incubate eggs at home without access to commercial incubators, there are various solutions. From building one yourself from scratch or purchasing online models, to creating and using homemade incubators.

However, all solutions must ensure adequate temperature and humidity conditions.

Home incubators that work effectively typically consist of insulated coolers with false bottoms and fans to create the ideal conditions for eggs to hatch. If you don’t own such an incubator, aquariums may also work; just make sure the glass surfaces are free from cracks or chips before turning them into egg incubators!

Before placing eggs into an incubator, conduct a preliminary test period of one or two days to ensure it can provide consistent temperature and humidity levels throughout.

Chicken eggs require temperatures between 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit and 99.5 degrees F throughout incubation; ideal humidity should range between 40-50 percent during the initial 18 days before increasing to 65-75 percent during the last four.

Your DIY incubator requires both a digital thermometer and hygrometer – one to measure air humidity, while the other measures actual temperatures inside your cooler – both essential tools for successful incubation, and easily available at discount stores like dollar shops.


In conclusion, incubating eggs without an incubator can be a rewarding and resourceful venture for those passionate about hatching their own poultry.

The alternative methods discussed, such as using broody hens, homemade incubators, or natural settings, showcase the adaptability and creativity of enthusiasts in fostering new life.

While these approaches may require careful monitoring and adjustments, the hands-on experience of incubating eggs without specialized equipment can deepen one’s connection to the natural cycle of life.

Whether you are a homesteader, a backyard farmer, or simply intrigued by the wonders of embryonic development, these methods offer a glimpse into the age-old practice of nurturing eggs into vibrant, chirping hatchlings.

Embrace the journey, stay observant, and enjoy the gratifying experience of witnessing the miracle of life unfold outside the confines of a traditional incubator.






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