Homemade Heating Elements for Incubators

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Using a 25-watt bulb will provide your chicken eggs with just the right amount of heat.
Using a 25-watt bulb will provide your chicken eggs with just the right amount of heat. (Image: light bulb image by Zbigniew Nowak from Fotolia.com)

Raising chickens for your own use or hatching eggs for your children's education is a fascinating endeavor, but it requires a steady heat source that is safe and reliable. If you are hatching eggs and find yourself without a heating element for your incubator, there are several ways you can make a quick homemade heating element or construct an entirely new incubator. For a few dollars and some household goods, you can continue hatching your chickens — no need to wait on an entirely new heating element to arrive from the supplier.

Things You'll Need

  • 25-watt light bulb
  • Lamp kit
  • Power strip
  • Sock
  • Rice
  • Thermometer
  • Heating pad
  • Disposable hand warmers

Replace the heating element in your incubator with a 25-watt bulb. Assemble the lamp kit and place the light bulb into the incubator about 6 to 8 inches away from the chicken eggs. Plug the light into a surge protector to make it easier to turn on and off and for safety.

Make a homemade warmer by heating a sock filled with rice in the microwave. Simply pour 2 cups of rice into a sock and tie a knot. Test the rice with a thermometer first, making sure the temperatures does not exceed 103 degrees. If it does, place a towel between the egg and the sock until it has cooled sufficiently.

Use a heating pad on the lowest setting. Place a towel over the heating pad and place the eggs on top. Use a thermometer to take with the temperature of the eggs and rotate 1/4 turn four times a day to keep the stress on the growing chickens even.

Use a disposable hand warmer if you are in a pinch to keep your eggs warm and find yourself without any other way. Simply wrap the hand warmer in a sock and place it underneath the egg. Carefully monitor the heat with a thermometer, making sure it does not exceed 103 degrees or drop below 97 degrees. Since hand warmers lose their heat over the course of a few hours, look for a more reliable source of heat.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make your own incubator using the lamp kit, an old computer exhaust fan and a Styrofoam cooler. Be sure to include a shallow tray of water to make sure the humidity stays at a healthy level for your growing chicks.
  • Mark your chicken eggs so that you will have an easy time knowing if they've been turned. A good way is to mark them N, E, S, W so you are sure you are turning them completely each day.
  • Make sure your hands are clean before handling the eggs. Eggs are porous and bacteria from your hands can slip through the shell and harm the chickens. Do not use hand sanitizer to clean your hands as this can affect the egg shell's integrity.

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