Hatching many eggs at once is important when breeding poultry, reptiles, or pet birds and you need to have the best egg incubator to achieve that. The egg incubator is therefore vital equipment for safely hatching as many eggs as you want in your preferred time. The basics of a good incubator for your eggs are having sufficient capacity, effective temperature, and humidity control, and a constant power supply. Once you get the basics right, you will be able to hatch lots of eggs every time you incubate.
You have to do proper research to match the incubator to the needs of your eggs and chicks. There are many types and sizes of incubators online and things can get a little confusing with all the technical language used. This guide will make you wiser when shopping for the best first home for your chicks and also give you the top-rated options online to choose from.
Types of Egg Incubators
Egg incubators are classified according to the method of air circulation they use to hatch eggs. They can therefore be classified into two main types:
1. Forced Air Egg Incubators
These incubators come with a fan that allows them to push warm air in the incubation chamber over the eggs so that every egg is warmed evenly. They are pricier than the other models because of the extra fan unit but they are more effective at maintaining an even temperature over the hatching chamber. They, therefore, tend to achieve higher hatch rates than other models.
2. Still Air Egg Incubators
These are incubators that don’t rely on a fan system for air circulation. They also have a thermostat for heating but you have to open the incubator from time to time for air circulation.
Egg incubators can also be classified depending on their size:
3. Cabinet Egg Incubators
These are the larger models which can stand by themselves on the floor and have compartments that you can use as hatching chambers. They have a higher capacity and allow you to hatch more eggs at a go. They are also pricier than the smaller versions.
4. Table/Counter Top Egg Incubators
These are the most common types of egg incubators. They have just one chamber and have to be placed on a tabletop or countertop for better handling and, control and monitoring. You have to remove the egg turners in these ones to use them as a hatching basket.
Advantages of Using an Egg Incubator
Artificial incubation can save you a lot of money while ensuring a high yield as long as you are using the right incubator and following the hatching instructions. Here are some advantages of hatching your eggs in an incubator:
- It is easier to time the hatching day for your eggs which gives you more space to plan for the arrival of the hatchlings.
- Artificial incubation protects eggs from damage by elements or other intruders that may interrupt brooding mothers.
- Using an incubator also creates a safe hatching environment for both the eggs and the chicks from possible infections that may be spread through natural brooding.
- Using an incubator allows you to conduct an evaluation of your eggs as they incubate and do your own best egg reviews to plan for both the current and future hatchings.
- An egg incubator also protects eggs from spillage and damage hence ensuring a higher hatch rate and preventing losses
How to Incubate Eggs
Step 1: Set Up the Incubator
For your eggs to hatch perfectly, you have to start by choosing the right location for the incubator. The incubator should be kept away from direct sunlight and heating elements which can cause sudden temperature hikes. Your location should also be free of too much movement by people or animals that may interfere with the process.
After choosing the location, you will need to set up your incubator according to the instructions given by the manufacturer. You then have to add water as directed and check the temperature and humidity. You may have to wait for a few hours (sometimes up to 48 hours) depending on the model for the temperature and the humidity in the incubator to stabilize. Don’t put your eggs into the incubator before the optimal hatching temperature of your eggs and humidity have been achieved.
Step 2: Choose Your Eggs Right and Place Them in The Incubator
For eggs to hatch, they have to be fertile and undamaged by the time they are placed into the incubator. Some people rinse their eggs before putting them in the incubator but that is not a must. Once you have selected your undamaged fertile eggs, put them into the egg holder in the incubator and let the temperature and humidity stabilize again.
Step 3: Maintain the Temperature and Humidity as Incubation Continues
Incubators have to be checked and adjusted regularly to ensure a high hatch rate for your eggs. You have to increase the humidity and temperature if it drops below the required levels for your eggs. If your incubator doesn’t have an inbuilt hygrometer or thermometer, you have to buy independent units to check the basics.
You will also need a candler for checking the growth levels of the eggs if your incubator doesn’t have an inbuilt candler. You can use a flashlight to candle as well. You also have to ensure the eggs are turning at least four times a day which you have to do manually if your incubator doesn’t have an automatic egg turner.
Step 4. Prepare For Hatching
You have to time your eggs according to the number of days it takes for them to hatch. For chicken, it takes 21 days and 28 to 30 days for turkey, geese, and ducks. Your incubator may have a countdown for these days but if it doesn’t, you have to make one yourself. You have to increase humidity while maintaining the temperature. (Specific may be different depending on the eggs you are hatching) and turn off your egg turner or remove it. For cabinet incubators, you will need to transfer the eggs to the hatching basket.
Top 11 Best Egg Incubator Reviews:
1. Digital Sportsman Cabinet Incubator 1502
- Power Consumption: 120-120V AC Plug,
- Material: Glass/Abs Plastic
This is a three-tier computerized cabinet egg incubator that can carry 270 chicken eggs with an allowance of 90 on each rack plus a hatching basket so you can handle all your hatching business in it. It is one of the biggest chicken egg incubators in the market which is good for commercial chick hatching and large bird and reptile farms. It is an all-in-one package that doesn’t require manual work after you load your eggs into the trays.
Its LCD screen displays all the details of the conditions in the incubator and if things are okay, it will stay green while the red alarm will go off if anything is out of place. The temperature comes preset, but you can customize the temperature using the cooler or warmer buttons in the controls which reduce or increase the temperature by half a degree with each push. It also comes with a clear viewing screen that allows you to monitor eggs from outside. The package includes a humidity tray and wick pads.
- It has both automatic and manual control modes.
- The racks turn automatically so you don’t have to worry about turning the eggs.
- It has a high capacity with large fans to keep all the eggs incubated. It can hatch 1354 quail eggs, 354 pheasant eggs, 270 chicken eggs, and 198 duck or turkey eggs. You can put in 36 to 45 larger eggs such as ostrich and emu eggs as well.
- It has a hatching basket that allows you to hatch at least one rack of eggs at a time.
- The onboard computer monitors the eggs for you and warns you if conditions need changing.
2. HovaBator Deluxe Egg Incubator Combo Kit
- Power: 110/120VAC, 12VDC (Batteries not included)
- Material: Styrofoam
If you are looking for a compact incubator that takes up little space while delivering a high hatching rate; then this little incubator will suffice. It is one of the best-forced air incubators from the incubator warehouse. It comes with a universal egg tray that can accommodate quail, chicken as well as goose/duck eggs. It basically has all the necessary tools you need for hatching making it the best egg incubator for beginners because you don’t have to run around looking for trays, thermometers, and egg turners.
Its automatic egg turner sticks to the tray and just rotates to turn the eggs six times a day which is almost similar to what would happen to them in nature. Its entire top area is also a viewing screen that allows you to monitor your eggs without having to interfere with the incubation. It can hold 42 chicken eggs which makes it good for small to medium-sized chicken farms, lab,s or hobby hatching projects.
- It has a large viewing screen at the top with an LCD screen and controls that make it easy to monitor eggs and change settings.
- It has an automatic egg turner which can be customized to only rotate some of the eggs if you don’t want all of them turned.
- It comes with an LED egg Candler that allows you to check the progress of your eggs without overheating the eggs.
- It is made of Styrofoam which imitates a natural nest holding air and humidity at a stable level for a long.
- It is a power-efficient incubator that can be plugged into a 12V system and also use batteries to prevent losses in case of a power outage.
3. Brinsea Products USAG47C Ovation 56 EX Fully Automatic Egg Incubator
- Power: 110/120V AC
- Material: Plastic
Brinsea is a popular brand especially among experienced breeders because of the high-quality construction and precise temperature and humidity customization. The 56 EX is a premium breeding machine that will incubate your eggs and also turn them into a hatching basket once you remove the egg carriers. The most impressive feature of this incubator is the level of customization it allows you to do. You can set the number of times you want your eggs to turn in a day, set temperature and humidity, and see all of the details on the LCD screen.
The entire top part of the incubator is also clear so you can monitor your eggs from above with no hassle. The egg carriers can be detached for cleaning. You can also pack the incubator with different egg carriers including pheasant and quail eggs and big ones for duck and goose eggs. This model comes with a water pump and connectors that allow you to connect to water on the outside so there is no need to open the incubator to top up water.
- Detachable egg carriers make it easy to clean and are also used for hatching
- No need to add water as the water pump connects to an external source
- It comes with evaporation blocks that make it easy to set and regulate humidity levels
- It is fully automated including the rate of turning so there is no need for manual handling of eggs
- It has an alarm for both the room temperature and the internal temperature so you will know if any of the two are affecting the incubation of your eggs.
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4. Farm Innovators Model 4250 Digital Circulated Air Incubator
- Material: Styrofoam and plastic
- Power: 110/120V AC
Farm Innovators have multiple models in the market but this one has the most positive egg incubator reviews especially because of the durability. They use Styrofoam for their incubators, but this one has a strong plastic outer body which is more durable and easier to clean. This is a still air incubator which means that temperature and humidity stability in the chamber is stabilized for longer. It also comes with two filling holes that allow you to add water to the incubator without opening it hence no interreference with the incubation process.
It can carry 42 standard chicken eggs and it is widely used by chicken farmers thanks to the high hatching percentages which is why it is considered one of the best chicken egg incubators in the market. Its LCD display shows you the temperature and humidity and blinks rapidly to alarm you if anything is not in order. It also has a countdown that shows you the number of days remaining until your eggs hatch and it is customizable so you can always adjust it to match your specific eggs.
- It is a still air incubator with air circulation holes at the top that makes it easy to regulate humidity for higher hatch rates.
- It has two filling holes at the bottom allowing you to add water without having to open the incubator.
- The automatic turner can be removed to turn the incubator into a hatching basket and for easy cleaning.
- A clear LCD screen displays temperature and humidity levels as well as the countdown to the date of hatching.
- It comes with an LED egg Candler for progress monitoring without hurting the chicks.
5. Magicfly Digital Mini Fully Automatic Egg Incubator
- Material: Plastic
- Power: 110/120V AC (60W)
This incubator fits every description of a compact incubator as it doesn’t require that much space. It is an entry-level incubator that is easy to set up and manage. It also packs all the features you need in an automatic egg incubator including an LCD screen to display real-time temperature and humidity in the incubator. It has a capacity of 12 chicken eggs or 6 duck/goose eggs. Once they are about to hatch, you can remove the automatic turner and dividers and turn the little incubator into a hatching basket.
This incubator comes with dividers that allow you to divide the hatching area into any number of rows depending on the size and number of eggs you have. There is therefore no need for an egg tray when hatching in it. It is also considerably inexpensive and considering the high hatching percentages it gives, it is the best egg incubator for the money.
- It is small in size and therefore takes up very little space allowing you to set it up anywhere.
- The dividers allow you to store different egg sizes in the incubator without others being loose.
- The automatic turner and tray are removable so you can hatch your chicks right there in the incubator.
- It has a clear LCD screen and controls for setting and monitoring the conditions in the incubator
- It is made of light but durable material so you can move it around with ease without reducing its lifespan.
6. HovaBator Advanced Egg Incubator Combo Kit: Includes Incubator, Fan kit, Egg Turner
- Material: Styrofoam
- Power: 110/120 AC Plug-In Only
This is the HovaBator model to go for when shopping for an incubator on a budget because it is not as fancy as the Genesis but it still comes with all the basics you need to hatch your eggs. Its body is made of Styrofoam, so it feels like a little nest. Its best part is the easy humidity and temperature controls. It has four different water holes with different capacities that allow you to customize humidity to your climate.
It takes a shorter time than other models to get the right environment for the eggs in this incubator. The thermometer and the hygrometer are also removable so you can set them in different sides of the incubator and check on the specific eggs. This model also comes with an automatic egg turner that turns your eggs six times a day so you don’t have to do it all the time. It also comes with an LED candler for monitoring the progress in the eggs.
- All the parts are detachable allowing you to increase the room in the incubator for hatching and also cleaning and maintenance.
- It is easy to customize the humidity by adding water to the different watering holes which have different capacities.
- It has a large capacity of 42 chicken eggs which is good value for the money considering its price
- The automatic egg turner eliminates the need to open the incubator regularly and handle the eggs.
- The tray is universal so you can put in any type of egg without having to buy a tray for larger eggs. Tiny pheasant and quail eggs will need smaller egg holders.
7. iTavah Egg Incubator, Chicken Incubators for Hatching Eggs
- Material: Plastic
- Power: 110/120V AC plug (60W)
This is another mini-incubator that you can literally fit anywhere in your house or laboratory. It is good for a small bird or reptile farm or a hobby/educational breeding environment. It is also the best egg incubator for small spaces due to its compact size and east temperature and humidity control. It can hold up to 16 reptiles, pigeon, and quail eggs which allows you to get a high hatching percentage in a small space.
It has a transparent top side that allows you to watch and monitor your eggs without having to open the lid. Its LCD screen also allows you to monitor the temperature without having to insert a thermometer into the incubator. The tray and the dividers also work as automatic egg turners and they can all be removed to create more room for hatching.
- The dividers hold any size of eggs snugly allowing them to rotate and incubate evenly for a high percentage of hatching.
- It is compact and can be fit in any place without taking up too much of your space.
- The automatic egg turner is a time saver and also ensures efficient incubation and a high hatch rate.
- It is made of durable plastic that maintains humidity for long hours
- It can hold different egg sizes at the same time because the dividers are easy to adjust to multiple egg sizes.
8. Chi Mercantile 56-Egg Automatic Incubator/Hatcher/Turner with LCD Display
- Material: Plastic
- Power: 11O/120V AC Plug
This is another innovative egg incubator that doesn’t pack many expensive extras but has everything you need to get high hatch rates. With its capacity of 56, this incubator is good for any small or medium-sized hatching project. Considering its favorable pricing, you can get multiple if you want to hatch more eggs at a time. It is made of durable plastic material with a transparent base section that allows you to monitor your eggs from the outside. It also works as the hatching basket since you can remove the egg turner to create more room for your duck or chicken eggs.
The egg-turner is designed to stay out of your way for the entire incubation process while still working effectively to turn your eggs every two hours. This incubator is also designed to stabilize the air and hold humidity and temperatures for long thanks to the plastic meshed mart which is put on the top cover rather than the base. It is also easy to set and control temperature, humidity, and the hatching countdown on the LCD screen at the top.
- Plastic mart on the top cover prevents evaporation and rapid air movement hence stabilizing humidity and temperature for more hours.
- It has an effective egg turner that turns eggs every two hours and still allows you to set the number of turns depending on the type and stage of your eggs.
- It is easy to add water through the holes using the drop bottle without opening the incubator.
- The base is transparent so you can watch your eggs hatching up close.
- When the egg tray is removed, the incubator can be used as the hatching basket so there is no need to move the eggs.
9. IncuView All-in-One Automatic Egg Incubator w Built-in Egg Turner
- Power: 110/120AC/12VDC
- Material: Plastic
This one always makes it to the best incubator reviews because it is one of the few incubators in the market that can use any power source without affecting the hatch rate. You can connect it to a 220V socket, a 12V DC battery, or a solar power source or even hook it to your car adapter. It is another great model from an incubator warehouse designed to fit multiple environments including those people hatching off the grid.
On the first appearance, it looks more like a transparent dome fitted with a thermostat because the entire top cover is transparent. Its egg turner is also inconspicuous but effective as it turns the eggs 2 to 6 times a day depending on the settings you have placed in. There is also a turn-off feature for the turner that allows you to stop eggs turning when they are about to hatch. It also has a countdown that allows you to track your eggs at a glance.
- The automatic turner is universal and can turn small quail eggs and large goose eggs without modification.
- The solid plastic construction of the incubator ensures its durability.
- It can be hooked to multiple power sources including a 12V DC for power outages and solar as well as car battery power cable.
- It has a 360° view of the entire hatching area thanks to the transparent lid.
- The auto-turning feature can be turned off to allow the eggs to settle for hatching without opening the incubator.
10. KEBONNIXS 12 Egg Incubator with Humidity Display, Egg Candler
- Material: Plastic
- Power: 110/120V AC, 12V DC
The design of this mini-incubator resembles a nest with a clear view of your hatching area and a large LCD screen for monitoring the incubation process. It is hard to find a small incubator with so many impressive features including a robust air circulation system that is essential for high hatch rates. Its capacity is limited to 12 chicken or smaller duck eggs which is enough for a small hatching project. It has a water inlet at the top so you don’t have to open the incubator to increase humidity. This package also comes with an LED candler so you can watch the progress of your eggs without overheating them.
The most impressive feature is the automatic egg turner that turns your eggs every one hour and can shut off automatically for three days to hatching to avoid hurting your chicks. The egg turner is also removable so your chicks have more room when they hatch. It can be used to hatch reptile and quail eggs as well. It is compatible with both a 12V and a regular 110/120V power plugging allowing you to switch to battery or solar power if you don’t have access to grid power.
- The automatic turner turns the eggs gently on the side every one hour and shuts off automatically three days before hatching to improve the hatch rate.
- It Can be plugged onto a 12V power source so you can power it using a solar, battery of car plug as well. It allows you to incubate your eggs even when there is a blackout.
- The plastic material is easy to clean and it is also durable.
- The heating and air concentration system as well as humidity monitoring are limited to the top so there is enough room for hatching when the eggs are done incubating.
- You can feed water to the incubator through the hole at the top so you don’t have to open it and interfere with the incubation process.
11. Happybuy Reptile Incubator 25L ReptiPro 6000 Digital Egg Incubator
- Material: Glass and ABS plastic
- Power: 110/120V AC, 12V DC
This cabinet-style egg incubator looks like a mini-refrigerator with robust construction and an attractive finish. It is perfect for a laboratory or home breeding and transportation of amphibians and reptiles with its huge capacity allowing you to load bottles and jars as large as two liters into the compartments. Its glass door also allows you to watch the entire incubation and hatching process without having to open the incubator. It can also be plugged into a DC or AC power source so you can also use it to hatch your reptiles off the grid.
It is a versatile incubator whose temperatures can be adjusted from 5 to 60°C making it the best reptile egg incubator as it allows you to customize the temperature to the exact needs of each hatchling you put in. It also has a big handle and casters that make it easy to carry and move around especially when transporting the eggs and hatchlings from one place to another. The partitions are also adjustable and detachable so you can put in bigger egg trays and animals if you have to. The compartments are large enough to accommodate your egg carriers without limiting the number and size of eggs you put in. Humidity control is also easy; just add water to the terraced bottom compartment and let the incubator do the rest.
- LED lighting makes it easy to monitor the incubation process in all the compartments at a glance
- You can adjust temperatures from 5 to 60°C which accommodates a wide variety of eggs including reptiles, amphibians, and birds.
- It can be powered using both AC and DC power making it easy to use off the grid and even in the car when transporting eggs and animals.
- It has no space limitations since the compartments can be adjusted or removed to give you room for larger egg and animal carriers if necessary.
- The strong material used for construction keeps it durable and it is also easy to clean; especially on the inside.
Things to Consider When Buying An Egg Incubator
This is the ultimate determinant of the size and model of the incubator you want to buy. It is cheaper to hatch all the ready eggs you have at once which is why you should buy an incubator that allows you to hatch all your viable eggs at once. If you want to hatch over 100 chicken eggs or more than 500 quail, pigeon, or reptile eggs, it would be smart to buy a cabinet incubator like the ones discussed above.
If you have a moderate number of eggs, a regular 56 to 42 chicken egg capacity incubators will suffice. Mini incubators make great additions for extra eggs you may want to hatch or entry-level hatching projects with 12 or so chicken eggs or less than 50 quail eggs.
The Type Of Eggs You Have
Most incubators in the market focus on chicken eggs as the standard for temperature settings as well as the egg turner and egg holders. There are accessories you can get to hold and turn quail eggs or large duck and even ostrich eggs but it will be harder to change the preinstalled temperature settings, especially for reptiles.
If you have quail eggs and don’t plan on buying a quail-egg rack, then you should go for an incubator that has universal egg turners; the same goes for larger eggs. As for reptiles, you should go for an incubator that allows you to vary the temperature a lot more to accommodate the needs of the eggs you have.
Your incubator has to be compatible with your socket whether it is a 110/120V or a 220V. Having the option of a 12V DC connection is an added advantage that saves you from losses in case there is a power outage. If you are hatching in an off-the-grid property, DC connectivity becomes necessary.
Most egg incubators don’t get subjected to much abuse but you still need one that will give you value for your money by serving you for as long as possible. The lifespan of your incubator depends on the material it is made of. Most tabletop incubators are either made of Styrofoam or plastic. The plastic ones are long-lasting and also easier to clean and maintain. Styrofoam is light and cheaper but harder to clean and maintain and also more vulnerable to scratches.
Developing embryos need air and the fresher air they can get, the higher your hatch rates will be. Forced air (circulated air) incubators are the ones with the fan element that pushes out used air full of carbon dioxide and bring in fresh oxygenated air which they heat up and spread evenly over the eggs.
Forced air incubators are more expensive though. You can put a fan into a still air incubator but that may be an extra cost and it will make the incubator bulkier. Still, air incubators can still achieve high hatch rates provided the ventilation holes are strategically above the hatching eggs for gravity to push insufficient fresh air.
Temperature And Humidity Control
As little as the ¼ of a degree’s change in temperature can mean the difference of whether your eggs hatch or they don’t which is why your incubator needs to be able to maintain the recommended temperature throughout incubation. The temperature in the incubator will be controlled either by a preset computerized thermostat or a wafer-controlled thermostat. Wafer-controlled thermostats tend to fluctuate a lot more so you have to keep a close eye on the thermometer.
You should also have some form of alarm system that tells you when you need to adjust your temperature or humidity. Humidity is also an essential part of embryo growth, so your incubator has to be able to hold the required humidity levels for as long as possible. The best incubators are ones that allow you to add water without interfering with the incubation.
Most egg incubators will come with an automatic egg turner because eggs have to be turned twice to six times a day depending on the egg type and stage of growth. If your incubator doesn’t have an egg turner, you may have to open the incubator regularly to turn your eggs manually. You also have to ensure that the turner is actually working because some may break down before the end of incubation without your knowledge.
A thermometer, hygrometer, and candler are the three main utilities you may need, especially if your incubator doesn’t have inbuilt models. They are great additions but they shouldn’t justify a price hike. Having wick pads for humidity control is also a big advantage, especially when buying a cabinet incubator.
FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions about Egg Incubator
Q1: Should you wash eggs before incubating?
Having clean eggs in the incubator is good for appearance but not necessary for increasing the hatch rate. You just need to maintain good nesting temperature, humidity, and egg turning inside the incubator to achieve high hatch rates.
Q2: Will eggs spoil in case of a blackout?
Power outages worry many people but they are not as much a problem as overheating; especially in the first two weeks of incubation for chicken and geese, turkey and quail. Some researchers agree that 20 to 30 minutes of cooling every 24 hours may be good which is why some incubators have the cooling feature. If the outage lasts for over 2 hours, you should increase room temperature or employ backup power to try to salvage the embryo.
Q3: Should you be worried when the alarm goes off?
Most incubators come with preset temperature and humidity levels and the alarm will go off if any of these are out of the range. Sometimes, it happens for short periods such as after adding water, opening the incubator, or immediately after putting in the eggs. This should not worry you because it adjusts after a short while back to normality. However, sustained high or low temperature and humidity levels exceeding an hour may hurt the embryos.
Q4: What do you do if eggs don’t hatch after their expected incubation period lapses?
All eggs will not hatch at the same time, so you shouldn’t be worried if your chick doesn’t come out after exactly 21 days for chickens. Some may come out as early as the 18th day while late hatchers may be as late as the 23rd day. You have to keep candling even during the hatching period to evaluate the viability of the chick inside the unhatched eggs. After three days, you can remove the unhatched eggs because some chicks may be malformed or dead.
Q5: How long should I leave the hatchlings in the incubator?
24 to 48 hours are good for hatching chicks to give them time to get used to their new environment. Some chicks hit against shells encouraging others to hatch which can also help them hatch faster.
Achieving high hatching rates starts with the choice of the best egg incubator for your eggs and for that to happen, you have to do your homework right. It may need some time and patience but after going through the best egg incubator reviews, you will love your incubator and enjoy your hatching projects. As you hatch more eggs, you will get better acquainted with your incubator and even learn new hacks for improving your hatch rates over time. This guide has put together all the details and choices you need to invest in the right egg incubator.
Hello, I am John Reid. I have been raising chickens for the last 15 years. I have got my experience from my father. My father is the owner of a large chicken farm. This is our family business that has been continuing for over 35 years. I am very interested in backyard chickens and I know how to take care of them. You can learn more About Us here. Happy Reading!!