Those of you looking to raise your own animals as pets or for food can do so with the help of an egg incubator. There are many models out there, and this review will help you find the best one in terms of features and price.
Before we begin with our review, there are a couple of things you need to know.
What type of incubator do you want?
Forced air (automatic) incubators are the preferred model for those who need to hatch numerous eggs. This type operates by circulating the warm air evenly using a fan. Higher end models come equipped with automatic features to maintain the humidity levels.
Still air (manual) incubators are better suited for individuals who only want to hatch a small amount of eggs. This type does not have a fan, instead it relies on someone to manually reposition the eggs every few hours. This requires more upkeep, since one must monitor the humidity and temperature inside the unit.
Farm Innovators Model 2250 Digital Circulated Air Incubator
Let’s start our review off with a basic and reliable circulated air incubator. The Farm innovator 2250 comes equipped with a digital display that displays the humidity, temperature, and countdown timer warning you when the eggs will hatch.
Their proprietary Incutek Heater is set to automatically warm the unit to 100 degrees Fahrenheit in record time. If the notification light flashes, it indicates that the inside temperature is falling off the mark, and the internal fan will activate to keep the temperature within the ideal range.
The large window provides a clear view of the eggs stored within for easy monitoring. This is also great for classroom settings, or for those who are simply interested about the incubation process. Furthermore, the tray is deep enough to house large eggs, such as those of duck and geese.
For the eco-conscious among you, you’ll be happy to learn that this model has a low ecological footprint by using recycled polystyrene foam as insulation. Not only that, but the material is excellent at retaining most of the heat within the tray where it ought to be.
We feel that this unit hits the sweet spot of having enough features to rival its higher end counterparts, while still maintaining a solid price point for beginners. For those looking to get into egg incubation, you can’t go wrong with Farm Innovators’ Model 2250.
RCOM Max 20 MX20 Fully Automatic Digital Egg Incubator
For those looking to dip their feet into the waters of poultry husbandry, consider purchasing the RCOM MX20. Being fully automatic, it takes all of the guesswork out by taking care of everything for you.
Unfortunately, its instruction manual leaves a lot to be desired with its poorly translated English that raises more questions than it answers. However, automatic incubators tend to require the least amount of handling so this is not an issue.
It should be noted that this unit does not come with an egg separator tray, so if you want to keep your eggs stationary in their proper spots, then you will have to buy a separate tray.
Furthermore, we discovered that this product does not hold as many eggs as it claims on the packaging. This may not be a bad thing for beginners, since attempting to hatch too many eggs at once can cause problems.
For instance, if the entire batch successfully hatches (which will likely be the case), then the chicks would be too cramped if more eggs were being incubated. The price is steep compared to the other incubators we cover, but those who want a mostly hands-off approach and has the money to spare should invest in an MX20.
GQF 1588 Genesis HovaBator Incubator
For those looking to hatch a large amount of eggs (or just bigger eggs), the Genesis HovaBator is one of the best options for you. There are no frills; there are no automatic turning features or fancy display screens. Its strength is in how basic it is – an incubator with a large storage capacity.
Certified poultry technicians (CPT) recommend this because it has just the bare minimum that you need and not one thing more, meaning no extra costs for features you’ll never use. Beginners who want lots of automation should look elsewhere.
Those looking for a fully-functional incubator that will get the job done (with a little bit of manual work on your part) on a budget, this is for you. The biggest shortcoming of the HovaBator is its lack of protective shell over its fragile Styrofoam body.
Despite Styrofoam being the ideal material for insulation, it can be rendered completely useless if it every gets cracked. Since this is a manual incubator, expect to handle it a lot, which can lead to damage if you are not careful enough.
Being a manual unit, there is no automatic turning of the eggs, so you’ll have to keep track and rotate the eggs yourself. As long as you are aware of the requirements of a manual incubator, this should not be an issue. We do not recommend this model for children.
Brinsea Mini Advance Hatch Egg Incubator
Among home incubator brands, Brinsea is easily the most recognizable as a leader in the industry. They offer top-notch products, and the Brinsea Mini Advance is no exception. In addition to having a small footprint, it also provides automatic turning.
We find that when eggs are regularly monitored, the odds of successful hatching dramatically increases. However, sometimes you just want to set it and forget it, checking in only occasionally to ensure there are no major incidents.
If you want your kids to be responsible for hatching and raising their own friend, this can be a great starting point to teach them responsibility in nurturing and taking care of a new life.
Though we love Brinsea products, we are also committed to being unbiased. No product is foolproof, and thus we recommend you purchase a hydrometer since this unit does not come with one.
You will need to test how much water is needed in the reservoir for the proper humidity range to be achieved. Be sure to account for the relative humidity in the area where you will keep the incubator.
For those who want a solid product that is almost completely automated, the Brinsea Mini Advance has all you need to get started. Experienced users should opt for a higher-end product; however, its affordable price makes it a great starting point for newbies.
Brinsea Octagon 20 Advance
Looking to upgrade from the Mini Advance but still want to stay within Brinsea’s catalog of excellent incubators? Look no further than the Octagon 20 Advance. For those who want a fully-automatic experience, this is as close as you can get without being an industrial grade product.
Its design is unrivalled, and can even be used as a plug-n-play. For those who want that perfect 100% hatch rate, you shouldn’t expect any incubator to be fully automatic. However, if you are not worried about a slightly lower yield, then by all means set it and forget it.
But, as with any animal husbandry, ideally you should personally take care of the animals you are trying to raise. When it comes to birds and reptiles, a hands-on approach should be taken from the very beginning.
Not only that, but you have to closely monitor the displays. The information provided is meant to assist your decisions, not make them for you. Next, we found that the egg turner was sometimes unreliable. Thus, we recommend you think of it as a back-up turner and the initial line of defense should be you.
Fortunately, everything else – temperature regulators, humidity control, and alarms all do an excellent job of ensuring that the incubating process goes as smoothly as possible. For those who are looking for a higher end product, this is a great investment.
Brinsea Manual Egg Incubator
In the price range of the Octagon, the Brinsea Manual Egg Incubator ditches the automatic turning function, allowing you to place a few more eggs in the unit.
Other than this, the rest of the features are comparable to the Octagon, and you can expect the same incubating and hatching experience that Brinsea products provide.
The temperature control offers precise adjustments in small increments, which is beneficial for gradually lowering or raising the temperature in a controlled manner.
The protective plastic shell is easy to maintain and clean, and the water reservoir is just the optimal size to maintain the humidity in the enclosure.
As with most manual incubators, this unit does not have luxury features, such as extra insulation, so it is better to store it in a room that stays within 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fortunately, most bedrooms and offices hover around this temperature range, so they are suitable areas for the incubator so long as it is not placed near ventilation. Keep in mind, something seemingly insignificant like changing the thermostat or turning on the AC can have a strong impact so be vigilant.
Brinsea Oviation 28 Fully Automatic Egg Incubator
With a storage capacity of up to 9 goose eggs, 66 quail eggs, or any combination in between, you will be capable of hatching plenty of eggs easily. Whatever your incubating needs or, the Oviation 28 provides excellent performance across the board.
Boasting impressive features, it should be no surprise that it has a hefty price tag attached to it. Considering you can basically set it and forget it, then the price becomes a lot more justifiable.
You can rely on the readings this incubator provides; it is designed to withstand power surges and will remember the temperature setting it was set at and will adjust itself to that point again once power is restored.
With that said, ensure that the power supply is stable or else hatch rates will suffer as a result. Though it seems a fully-automatic incubator would be better suited for beginners, its large hatching potential lends it more to be used by experts who want to ramp up their production.
This silent incubator can additionally dry your chicks after hatching, which eliminates one step that you need to do so you can return them to the yard faster. All in all, this product simplifies the incubating and hatching process and the dividends you will be soon be getting will justify its purchase price.
It should go without saying that shopping online carries with it some risk, and you should do your due diligence to ensure the product satisfies all your expectations. The optimal choice for you can depend on several factors, which we will cover below:
Budget: New models with all of their shiny exteriors and fancy features can entice you into thinking it is everything you want, but oftentimes they contain features you may never use. This is especially true for beginners whose needs are very basic.
Unless you are a professional animal breeder, it is unlikely you’ll need the best of the best among the available incubators. However, if your disposable income is sufficient enough, then feel free to get the biggest and best product.
Features: In the case of incubators, this is usually the difference between buying an automatic or manual incubator. As we have mentioned already, automatic incubators do a lot of the work for you, however they aren’t always perfect.
For the best yields, there should still be some manual work involved so that you can guarantee everything is on track and any sudden problems can be dealt with swiftly.
Personal Experience: Absolute beginners should probably look for an automatic incubator. Experienced breeders can get either, depending on how many eggs they want to incubate at one time and how hands-on they want to be.
Benefits of Using an Incubator
Can be used for multiple species. The size of eggs from different species will affect how many you can incubate at one time and for how long. Automatic incubators will specific what type of egg it is capable of turning.
Typically, incubators are rated by how many chicken eggs they can hold in one time. You should read user reviews to see if they use the incubator for other types of eggs. Experienced breeders may want to breed bearded dragons, pythons, chameleons, or other types of exotic reptiles.
Easier to raise new animals. Fertilized eggs are often sold by breeders for lower prices, and some species are easier to raise if they imprint on you. Ducks, for instance, often associate the first thing they see as their mother, which helps when raising it.
Highly educational. Kids can use this too! (Or curious adults). If you want to see how the hatching process works, or if you have kids who are interested, then this can be a fun learning experience.
An egg incubator lets kids be in charge of nurturing and caring for a life, which can help them learn how to be more responsible people. It is also a great hands-on way to learn about life science, especially if they want to have a career that involves dealing with animals.