In nature it is broody hens that hatch fertilized eggs.
However what do you do if you want to hatch eggs but do not have a broody hen?
You can use a chicken egg incubator.
Egg incubators are devices that mimic the process that a broody hen goes through to hatch her chicks.
They will work to keep the eggs in an optimal environment for hatching by controling a variety of factors, like temperature and humidity. Some of the more expensive incubators will even turn the eggs for you.
Keep reading to learn all about the different types of incubators and how to pick the best one for your flock…
Contents and Quick Navigation
- The Best 5 Chicken Egg Incubators
- What To Know Before Buying A Chicken Egg Incubator
- Key Features Of Incubators To Consider
- Common Problems With Egg Incubators
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Best 5 Chicken Egg Incubators
|Editor’s Picks||Brand||Our Rating|
|Best With Automatic Turner||Manna Pro Egg Incubator||4.5|
|Best Small Incubator||Magicfly Mini Incubator||4.4|
|Manual Turner||Brinsea Manual Egg Incubator||4.0|
|Best Value||Farm Innovators Incubator||3.5|
|Best of the Rest||Sailnovo Egg Incubator||4.0|
Best With Automatic Turner: Manna Pro Egg Incubator
The Manna Pro Egg Incubator is perfect for those looking for an incubator with an automatic turner. Egg turning is one of the most intensive aspects of egg hatching. This particular incubator is easily programmable and it also has a function to stop the egg turning as the egg hatch day approaches. You can also easily maintain the humidity and temperature. All of the features can be adjusted from the digital display menu, including temperature, turning interval, and alarms. It can also display various pieces of information, including days until hatch and temperature for your convenience.
- Eggs are easy to see with a full 360 degree view.
- Easy to control incubator functions on digital screen.
- Automatic and adjustable egg turner.
- Screen shows live temperature.
- Can struggle to turn larger or heavier eggs.
- Does not have a hygrometer.
- Noisy beep when device turns eggs.
- Difficult to clean.
Best Small Incubator: Magicfly Mini Incubator
Egg incubation is effortless with the Magicfly Mini Incubator. It is simple, easy to use and durable. This incubator will automatically regular temperature and humidity and turn the eggs too. In addition to chicken eggs you can also use this to incubate duck and goose eggs. Although there is no hygrometer installed on the incubator, it does keeps the humidity relatively consistent. It is a solid chicken egg incubator for those looking to hatch a smaller brood of less than 10 eggs.
- Very small and compact.
- Simple and sturdy.
- Can hold a variety of egg sizes.
- Turns eggs slowly throughout day.
- Suitable for up to 9 eggs.
- Cannot turn off automatic egg turner.
- No hygrometer.
- Instructions are difficult to follow.
Manual Turner: Brinsea Manual Egg Incubator
The Brinsea Manual Egg Incubator is a great choice for those looking for a well-rounded chicken incubator without any fancy add-ons. Not everyone wants to use an automatic egg turning system and they are happy to do it themselves. It does however come with a preset temperature setting and vents to control the humidity. This large incubator is able to hold eggs of all shapes and sizes which makes it a great choice for those who are looking to hatch eggs larger chickens breeds.
- Adjustable temperature.
- Suitable for up to 24 eggs.
- Easy to read temperature indicator.
- Simple and robust design.
- No hygrometer.
- Humidity hard to maintain.
- No automatic turner.
Best Value: Farm Innovators Incubator
Farm Innovators Incubator is excellent for those looking for an affordable incubator. It is sturdy and well-equipped. This incubator is well known for its reliability and functionality. It has plenty of airflow and uses exhaust vents on the top and bottom of the incubator. It can hatch a variety of other eggs too such as quail and duck eggs. It also has clear windows on the top of the incubator so you can easily see the eggs and chicks hatching inside.
- Clear windows so you can see the eggs inside.
- Hatches a variety of eggs.
- Plenty of airflow.
- No hygrometer included.
- Thermostat difficult to use.
- Humidity can drop.
Best of the Rest: Sailnovo Egg Incubator
Sailnovo Egg Incubator is small and compact device which makes it perfect for those who are trying to hatch a small batch of eggs. However despite its relatively small size it comes packed with features. It has automatic egg turning, a thermometer and hygrometer and a fan assisted air flow system. This incubator is excellent at maintaining the internal humidity without any extra alterations.
- Very good value for money.
- Has automatic turning feature.
- Clear top for easy viewing of eggs.
- Comes with egg candler.
- Difficulty holding larger eggs.
What To Know Before Buying A Chicken Egg Incubator
Chicken egg incubators are devices that mimic the natural brooding process of a broody hen by providing the perfect amount of heat and humidity for the eggs to develop. Incubators come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be handmade from a box or bought with fancy gauges and indicators.
Regardless of the price and complexity of the device, incubators have one job: hatch the eggs.
There are several things to consider before buying a chicken egg incubator.
If you already have a broody hen then is using a chicken egg incubator still a good idea?
In short, yes.
While most hens are excellent mothers there are a variety of reasons why using an incubator is better.
Incubators can control the humidity, temperature, and turning frequency better than broody hens. This often results in a greater percentage of the eggs hatching into chicks due to the consistency and care.
Another great advantage to using an incubator instead of a broody hen is safety from harm. Accidents happen. Although hens are extremely careful when handling their eggs, it is entirely possible for some eggs to become cracked, overly jostled, and chilled from not enough warming.
While all of these things are inevitable in the natural egg hatching process, you can decrease the likelihood of these accidents happening by using a chicken egg incubator.
Finally, sometimes broody hens will abandon their nest. When they abandon their nest the eggs will not hatch.
Fortunately incubators will never abandon their nest!
Key Features Of Incubators To Consider
There are several key features to consider when buying a chicken egg incubator.
First, how does the incubator accurately judge and maintain humidity?
Humidity is one of the most important factors to maintain when hatching eggs. Some chicken egg incubators include a hygrometer so you can read the humidity and adjust it based on your needs. However, if your incubator does not include a hygrometer you should buy one separately and use it with the incubator.
Next, how often does the chicken egg incubator check temperature?
Many chicken egg incubators have a digital menu that displays the live internal temperature of the incubator. The temperature can be easily adjusted via the display. Other chicken egg incubators may have been preset to a certain temperature and are not adjustable. It is important to know the details of your incubator’s temperature settings before using it.
Next you should check if it has an automatic turner?
Egg turning is the most intensive aspect of hatching egg. Eggs need to be turned multiple times a day to make sure the egg is evenly warmed. An automatic turning feature is a huge plus as you won’t have to turn the eggs by hand.
Another thing you will need to consider is the size of the incubator.
How many eggs do you want to hatch at once?
You will find incubators that can handle anywhere from 6 to hundreds of eggs at a time. Make sure that you choose an incubator with a large enough capacity to make it easier to hatch the eggs.
Finally, you will need to consider the price.
Prices can vary from $30-$200+ based on several factors including: quality, features and size.
If you are planning to reuse your incubator then it is worth spending more to purchase a higher quality one. However if you are only planning on hatching a single brood then a cheaper incubator will do.
Common Problems With Egg Incubators
One of the most common problems with chicken egg incubators is temperature malfunction.
A temperature malfunction can result in either the incubator getting too hot or too cold.
Both are very bad for the egg. Maintaining the perfect temperature for incubation is essential to the development of healthy chicks.
If you are concerned about temperature malfunction then you should monitor the temperature using an external thermometer with an alert.
Another common problem is humidity malfunctions.
Humidity is another essential factor needed for healthy chick development. The humidifier can accidentally run dry, not work, or other factors can contribute to a lower than required level of humidity for healthy chick development.
You can use a hygrometer to monitor the humidity and make sure it is at the proper level.
Finally, and perhaps the most common problem, is power failure.
A loss of power will create a temperature and humidity problem.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict or prevent a power failure. Your best option is to make sure you have a backup power source for the incubator in case the power goes out.
Frequently Asked Questions
What humidity level for chicken eggs?
For chicken eggs the humidity of the incubator should be set to 40-50% for days 1-18.
It is important to keep this humidity fairly constant throughout this period. Days 18-21 you should rise the humidity to 65-75%. This is vital to prevent the chick from sticking to the shell. Humidity that has been too high or low during the incubation can drastically affect the success of the hatch.
How long does it take to hatch a chicken egg in an incubator?
Your eggs will take 21 days before they hatch.
There can be some variability though with some chicks hatching early or some chicks hatching later than the rest. So I tend to keep the eggs in the incubator for up to 5 days after the last hatch – just in case!
How soon do you have to put fertilized chicken eggs in an incubator?
Fertilized eggs should go into the incubator within 7 days.
Some folks have had success with eggs held over for 14 days or so, but the longer they are kept outside the incubator then the less likely they are to hatch successfully.
While the eggs are waiting to be put in the incubator you should keep them at 55°F, otherwise the embryos can start to develop too soon.
How often should I turn my chicken eggs in the incubator?
You should turn your eggs at least 2-3 times per day.
4-5 each day is better and try to keep the turning at regular intervals.
To make sure you do not get confused, mark an X on one side of the egg in pencil so you can keep a visual record. Just make sure that you are gentle when turning the eggs to avoid rupturing any of the tiny developing blood vessels.
Also remember that day 18 is lockdown so do not turn your eggs after day 18. Before day 18 make sure you set the eggs with the large end slightly upward, never put the pointed end up.
However if you can afford it then get an automatic turner for your incubator. They are cheap and well worth the money.
Using a chicken egg incubator for the first time might seem intimidating, but it is actually very simple.
You will need to start by buying good quality fertilized eggs. This is the most important step – it is equivalent to building a strong foundation for your house!
Once you have your eggs you need to place them in the incubator.
Just remember though that incubators come with their own risks and complications and are not perfect! You will want to keep a close eye on the temperature and humidity and also make sure you have a backup power supply.
Also just remember that if the incubator does not have an automatic turner, you will need to do this by hand.
Let us know in the comments section below how many chicks you hatched…
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