If you are a real chicken keeper and you think you will be hatching eggs frequently, then it is a good idea to invest in a chicken egg incubator.
Most birds incubate their eggs, but sometimes, they refuse to do so. Artificial incubators are handy in such cases, and they keep the eggs warm at optimal temperature for hatching.
In this guide, we will discuss everything there is to know about buying a chicken incubator.
The Best Chicken Incubators
1. Brinsea Products Mini II Automatic 7 Egg Incubator
Brinsea Products Mini automatic egg incubator is an attractive, dome-shaped incubator that has received hundreds of positive reviews with 4+ star ratings.
It has a transparent cover that lets you observe the incubation process without opening the unit. The display shows the temperature which can be adjusted easily at the push of a button, and the calibration is very accurate.
Egg turning is fully automatic, and the robust unit can be easily cleaned.
- Excellent temperature control
- Easy to use; well-written, easy-to-understand instructions
- Value for money
- Sturdy and durable
- Has a countdown feature to hatch day with the auto-stop facility
- Design flaws; could kill the birds if one is not careful
- Too small for turkeys and other birds; also, not suitable for duck eggs.
- No humidity control. You need to invest in a separate humidity monitor. The unit is small and has no place for the humidity monitor.
- The small unit is difficult to clean.
2. Currens Fully Automatic Egg Incubator
Currens fully automatic egg incubator is ideal for incubating chicken, duck, quail, turkey, and goose eggs.
There is an egg turning facility that turns eggs every 2 hours. The in-built fan keeps air circulating for optimal temperature control.
The display shows the incubation period, the countdown to hatching days, temperature, humidity control, and other essential factors.
Currens Egg Incubator has an environmentally friendly design that consumes little power. It has a capacity of 48 eggs and is made with durable and safe ABS plastic.
- Easy to clean and use
- Value for money
- Has a humidity reading and day counter which many incubators do not have
- Excellent customer service
- Some units have a gap in front of the grate, and the hatched chicks fall through it.
3. Backyard Farm Hatchmate Egg Incubator Fully Automatic for 9-12 Eggs
Backyard Farm Hatchmate egg incubator is small and compact and can easily hold chicken, duck, quail, pigeon, parakeet, and turkey eggs. It automatically turns the eggs, so you don’t have to babysit or monitor the unit.
The unit comes with easy-to-understand instructions. Thermometer calibration is easy to do, and the unit remains at optimal incubation temperature throughout.
- Compact and attractive unit
- Has a fan for even temperature distribution.
- Easy to use and clean. Instructions provided are easy to follow.
- Observation window lets you see the process without handling the eggs or impacting optimal temperature
- Excellent customer service; 1-year warranty
- Value for money
- Made in the USA
- No hygrometer included – so humidity levels cannot be monitored.
- Poor customer service – returns do not guarantee a refund.
4. MagicFly Digital Mini Fully Automatic Incubator 9-12 Eggs
MagicFly digital fully automatic egg incubator is one of the best selling chicken egg incubators on the market.
It is compact, easy-to-use, and easily incubates about 12 eggs. There is an automatic egg turning facility and automatic temperature control.
- Very easy to use – set it and forget it!
- High egg hatch rate
- Value for money
- Instructions tend to be difficult to understand
- Temperature fluctuations tend to occur.
5. GQF Thermal Air Hova Bator
GQF air incubator has been recognized as the world’s best small incubator for nearly 30 years. It has received many positive reviews and ratings from backyard chicken farmers and commercial poultry farmers alike.
It is known as the world’s most economical and efficient incubator. There are two vents on the top and bottom to keep air circulating for temperature maintenance.
You can observe the chicks through two windows on the unit. The unit can also be used for incubating chicken, duck, quail, pigeon, guinea fowl, and reptile eggs.
- Fairly accurate
- Good hatch rate
- Easy to use
- Value for money
- Weak water delivery system that affects humidity
- Not suitable for very dry climates
- The wing nut used for adjusting humidity is troublesome to turn
- May not be ideal for beginners as some trial and error is needed.
- No fan, therefore, maintaining temperature is a chore.
6. Farm Innovators Circulated Air Fully Automatic Egg Incubator
Farm Innovators Egg incubators come in two models – the 2450 and the 4250. Both units have been well-received by chicken farmers.
2450 has a capacity of 41 eggs. A fan allows reliable air circulation to maintain the temperature inside the unit.
Eggs turn automatically every 4 hours.
- The digital display shows the temperature, humidity, and days to hatch countdown (which is adjustable for different eggs)
- The large window allows for 360-degree viewing of the incubation process.
- Air circulating fan maintains the flow of air
- Hi-lo temperature indicator notifies about temperature fluctuations outside the desired range
- Eliminates manual egg turning
- The larger tray also allows for duck and geese eggs
- Some customers had temperature fluctuations that were severe enough to kill the birds.
7. TrioCottage Mini Egg Incubator with Auto Egg Turning
The fully automatic mini egg incubator from TrioCottage comes with Styrofoam insulation that keeps the incubator warm on the inside even if the ambient temperatures plummet.
TrioCottage incubator is fully automatic and turns the eggs every 2 hours.
There is a facility to start egg turning any time you want. It can be used for chicken and duck eggs and comes with a tray to place water in for maintaining humidity.
The incubator also has a fan that circulates the air and maintains temperature and humidity levels. This compact incubator has an attractive display that also lets you control the temperature.
- Easy to clean and use
- Value for money
- Fully automatic with egg turning
- Allows you to observe the incubation process easily.
- Good hatch rate
- Inaccurate temperature control – has hot and cool spots
- No control over humidity
- The temperature reading is in Celsius only.
8. Noeler 56 Egg Incubator Digital Automatic
Noeler egg incubator can be used for hatching up to 56 eggs of ducks, chickens, quails, pigeons, and geese.
It automatically turns the eggs every 2 hours, and its clear window helps you see the entire process without disturbing the incubation temperature.
An LED display shows the temperature, humidity, and other essential readings. There is a built-in fan that helps circulate air for maintaining optimal humidity and temperature.
- Fully automatic egg incubator that takes the guesswork out
- Has a display that indicates all necessary parameters
- Not many user-reviews on top retail sites.
9. Good Mother Mini Fully Automatic Egg Incubator
Good Mother fully automatic egg incubator is used for incubating quail, duck, chicken, and geese eggs.
It comes with a digital temperature readout in Fahrenheit and Celsius.
The compact egg incubator is made with healthy and safe polypropylene material.
It is fully automatic so that it turns the eggs when needed, and you don’t have to do the work.
The Company guarantees safe incubation and embryo health through automatic temperature control, constant monitoring, and proper temperature adjustment.
- Easy to use, compact, and easy to clean
- Useful for incubating eggs of a variety of poultry
- Two temperature unit measurements available
- Fully automatic
- Facility to view the process
- Not for use outside the US
- Temperature variations occur
- Egg turning malfunctions
- Some monitoring on the part of the user is necessary.
Why you need a chicken incubator
You need to opt for artificial incubation when you want to raise chicks and when your birds won’t incubate their eggs.
A chicken egg incubator can make the task a lot easier and also takes away all of the guesswork of temperature maintenance.
Good-quality incubators come with the instructions and exact temperature and humidity levels needed for your eggs to hatch at the right time, even if the hens do not do their job.
The best part about using an incubator is that you and your kids can view the hatching process, which is very enjoyable and satisfying!
Related post: The Best Chicken Brooder to Buy
Types of chicken incubators
Did you know that the first chicken incubator was made in 1843? Since then, incubators have come a long way.
Today, you can get one for any budget, and some enthusiastic DIY types even build their own! You can easily buy incubators online and offline; from top retail sites, home improvement stores, pet shops, and even farm stores.
If you wish to save money, you can look for secondhand, gently used incubators; people often advertise them for sale in newspapers, magazines, and on thrift websites and forums.
The choice of a chicken egg incubator depends on several factors:
- How often will you use it?
- The size – how many eggs you want to hatch at a time?
- Are you planning on incubating just chicken eggs? Or do you also keep ducks, turkey, and other birds?
- Your budget.
- How much time can you willing to allocate to the project?
- Whether your kids/you want to watch and observe the hatching process. This way, you can select a unit with a transparent window.
If you plan on using an incubator as a one-time project, then go in for a cheaper incubator. A secondhand one can also do the job. For birds like ducks, geese, and turkeys, you’d need a larger incubator.
Chicken incubator features
For home use, you can buy a small incubator that can hold between 3 and 300 eggs. It is essential to note that not all of the eggs that you put inside the incubator will hatch.
So if you put in about 48 eggs and assuming that all the eggs are fertile, with a hatch rate of 80 to 85%, you can expect about 40 eggs to hatch.
Capacity also decides if you will use the incubator for just chickens or turkeys, ducks, quails, and other poultry fowl.
Egg turning control
Eggs need to be turned inside the incubator so that they are thoroughly warmed all over. The egg turning process may be manual or fully automatic, depending on the incubator.
If it is manual, you need to turn the eggs every 2 to 4 hours. In automatic versions, this is done by the unit itself.
In some units, you have to add water from time to time or place a sponge in the unit to maintain the right humidity inside the incubator.
Also, you need to have the humidity measured every few hours. In dry climates, this becomes very important and can be a factor in deciding the hatch rate of your incubator.
Airflow and temperature control
Airflow may include still air or forced air. Most modern incubators come with a fan that keeps the air moving inside the unit.
Some incubators have vents on the top and bottom to ensure moving the air and keeping the eggs at optimal temperature.
Commercial incubators are water-cooled while smaller, home-use incubators come with a fan and are air-cooled.
Good-quality incubators will account for temperature differences within the unit. Temperature differences can lead to ‘hot’ and ‘cool’ spots within the incubator, and that could impact the hatch-rate of the unit.
The speed of the fans, the door-seals, all can lead to temperature differences inside the incubator. Routine maintenance of incubators, therefore, becomes mandatory to prevent these temperature differences.
This is also the reason why you need to carry on routine temperature checks inside the units to ensure optimum incubation temperature.
If the temperature deviates from the optimum, not only is the hatch rate impacted but also the possibility of deformed or malformed chicks.
Some units also allow you to change the temperature. You must know what day of incubation you are on; since the temperature depends on that.
As you reach the day of hatching, the temperature needs to be lowered. That is why some units also include a countdown to hatching, so you know exactly what temperature to set the unit at.
Ease of observation
Units come with a transparent top or a viewing window so you can view the incubation process without opening the unit and disturbing the temperature and humidity levels.
Ease of cleaning
Smaller units might seem easy to clean, but sometimes they are more difficult as they tend to spread the debris around.
When it comes to a chicken incubator, you get what you pay for.
If you buy a cheaper model, then the chances are that there is no facility to control or monitor the temperature and humidity. Such an incubator, compared to the more expensive and full-featured models, tends to require closer supervision to get good results.
So if you invest in a low-priced model, make sure that you are willing to spend time monitoring the incubation and that you are always available to do so.
FAQs about Chicken Egg Incubation
Incubator temperature and humidity for chicken eggs
Temperature and humidity are the essential factors in egg incubation.
- During the first 18 days of embryonic development, the eggs need an incubation temperature of 98.5 and 100.25 F.
- For the last three days of incubation, they need a slightly lower incubation temperature between 98 F and 99 F. That is why incubators need to have a facility for cooling.
- Humidity – 40-50% on days 1 to 17 and 65 to 70% on days 18+.
Chicken egg incubation times
The average chicken egg incubation time is about 21 days. But this can vary based on the following factors:
- Disease – Stress and disease can increase egg incubation time.
- Flock age – this lengthens the incubation period.
- Season – eggs produced in warmer season tend to incubate faster than that in the cooler season.
- Breed – smaller breeds have a shorter incubation period.
- Egg size – smaller eggs hatch sooner than the larger ones.
If you keep backyard chickens, ducks, turkeys, parakeets, or other birds and plan to have more of them, then a chicken egg incubator is a must-have appliance. We hope the above reviews help you choose the right incubator for your project.