Have you ever thought about raising your own birds or reptiles? Whether you’re planning to raise chickens, bearded dragons, or even chameleons, an incubator allows you to bring the eggs inside and care for them without the help of the mother.
Table of Contents
- Types of Incubators
- Small Incubator Review
- Medium Incubator Reviews
- Large Incubator Review
- Why use an incubator?
Types of Incubators
Generally speaking, there are two main types of egg incubators. The one that’s best for you will depend on your individual circumstances.
1. Forced air (automatic) incubators
Forced air incubators work best when you have a large number of eggs to hatch. These often come with a fan that circulates the warm air around the eggs. Many will even automatically turn the eggs after a set period of time.
2. Still air (manual) incubators
Still air incubators, on the other hand, do not contain a fan. These incubators work best when there are only a few eggs to be hatched, as someone will need to turn them by hand.
Small Incubator Review
Brinsea Mini Advance Hatching Egg Incubator
If all you need is a small incubator (but you don’t want to manually turn the eggs), the Brinsea Mini Advance is the best choice we’ve found. While many incubators at this price point will have issues with temperature regulation, consistent monitoring can produce high yields.
We do recommend that you get a hydrometer, since this model does not come with one. Following the instructions would tell you to keep the reservoir about halfway full – but this does not account for the humidity in your own area, and assumes a humidity of 0% to start.
Additionally, our biggest complaint was that the automatic turning feature really only works for chicken eggs, so if you’ve got anything larger (or smaller) you will have to manually turn them, which sort of defeats the purpose of having a more expensive, automatic model. But if you just want something you can incubate chicken eggs in, with very little maintenance along the way, the Brinsea Mini Advance is a great choice that’s sure to please.
Medium Incubator Reviews
Brinsea Octagon 20 Advance
If you have the budget for a larger incubator, the Brinsea Octagon is a name that comes up most often. They’re definitely not the only brand, nor are they always the most affordable, but their design offers something that is often unmatched by other manufacturers. In the case of the Octagon 20 Advance, this means you are getting as close to an “automatic” experience as you can reasonably expect.
We do recommend, for the best results, that you don’t treat this as a plug-and-play system. Truly, if you want a hands-off approach to raising chicken and duck eggs, it makes sense that you’d want to be involved with the process. Manual turning and candling can help make sure the process goes smoothly. After all, who wants to let the machines win? Certainly not me!
Our only real complaint with this model is that the automatic turner didn’t live up to the hype – which, as we already stated, can easily be worked around by taking a more hands-on approach to your hatching process. This model does have reliable temperature regulation, humidity control, and even alarms that can be set to let you know when it’s time to intervene… This incubator is a great investment piece, for those who need it.
Brinsea Products Manual Egg Incubator
If you can’t afford that hefty of an investment, but still need to hatch a substantial number of eggs, the Brinsea Manual Egg Incubator holds up to 24 chicken eggs. There are no major features here, so if you’re looking for bells and whistles, look elsewhere. However, if you’re trying to populate a large number of chickens at the same time, from a same machine (or if you need to hatch larger eggs), this incubator is the clear winner.
This incubator can hold up to 24 large chicken eggs with ease. There’s no bulk added by automatic turning mechanisms or fancy extras. Some people may be put off by having to manually turn a larger number of eggs – if you fall in that category, we highly recommend getting a few smaller incubators with auto-turning features, rather than one larger one.
Our only real complaint with this unit is that, while it is temperature regulated, it is not insulated in any way, so the temperature outside of the incubator is very important. Something as simple as switching on the air conditioning or heater will substantially impact the temperature of the eggs, so it’s best if it’s kept somewhere that stays between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. We tend to find it’s comfortable when kept in an office or bedroom, out of the way of direct ventilation, as these rooms tend to stay in this range anyway.
Large Incubator Review
GQF 1588 Genesis HovaBator Incubator
If you need to house a large number of eggs, or a number of larger eggs, the HovaBator is one of the top choices. This is not an all-in-one, so you need to understand what you’re buying: You are getting a manual-turn, high-capacity, well-insulated unit. That being said, there are some drawbacks here.
First, this unit is Styrofoam. This is great, because it’s an inexpensive insulation material that works quite well. Of course, we wish this unit came with a hard shell over the Styrofoam. The lack of an automatic turning mechanism means you’ll be opening it every few hours. Without the plastic shell, you’ll need to be careful, as any holes in the Styrofoam will render it useless as an insulator.
The heating unit itself worked very well, and the temperature updates every few seconds. This helps to reassure you that the unit is operating at the best possible temperature. Additionally, it measures to the tenth of a degree, which helps you adjust as the temperature rises or falls slowly, preventing a problem from coming to light. For under $$$, this is a great choice for customers who need to turn out a large quantity of eggs and don’t mind doing a little work.
Why use an incubator?
They’re great for many different species.
Most egg incubators can be used for multiple species – both birds and reptiles alike. Be sure to pay attention to the capacity of the incubator as it relates to what you’ll be raiting. Quail eggs will be much smaller than turkey eggs, for example. Most incubators will be rated according to how many chicken eggs they can hold, as this is the most common use. More experienced hatchers may choose to work with ball python eggs, chameleon eggs, bearded dragon eggs, etc.
It makes it easier to raise and carry your new pets.
Often it will be cheaper to buy fertilized eggs than to buy established animals. This means that you can buy a few fertilized eggs, often for less than a single juvenile, and get a much better return on your money.
It’s a great learning experience, especially for children.
The life cycle when hatching eggs offers an unforgettable learning experience that’s hard to beat. If you have children, grandchildren, or are just curious about hand-raising animals, an egg incubator lets you start raising your new pet before birth.