Which egg incubator is best?
If you raise or want to start raising chickens or other birds, at some point, you’re going to need to hatch some. In fact, using an egg incubator to hatch your eggs is more successful and reliable than letting hens incubate them naturally. Plus, egg incubators today have plenty of features that take most of the work out of hatching.
The best egg incubator is the Kebonnixs 12-Egg Incubator. It has excellent features, such as automatic turning and an egg candler so you can monitor each egg’s progress.
What to know before you buy an egg incubator
The capacity of an egg incubator is determined by its size and the size of the eggs you want to hatch. Most egg incubators will give a capacity estimate based on the average size of a chicken egg, which is the most commonly hatched animal in an egg incubator. For example, a 12-egg incubator can only hold roughly three goose eggs or up to 24 quail eggs.
You don’t need to match your intended brood size to the capacity of the incubator so long as you have enough space. To put it another way, if your prospective incubator can hold 10 eggs but you only plan to hatch five, the extra empty space won’t negatively affect the eggs. Higher capacities cost more, however, so try to balance your needs and your budget.
Forced vs. still air
Forced- and still-air incubators each have pros and cons.
- Forced-air incubators take some of the work out of incubation, especially since they’re always paired with other automatic processes. However, more automated processes mean an increased risk of mechanical failure. Additionally, they also cost more.
- Still-air incubators are more reliable and last longer due to the lack of a fan to push the air and heat around. They also cost less. However, the incubator also needs more direct oversight than one with more technology behind it.
What to look for in a quality egg incubator
Eggs need to be turned throughout the incubation process for the embryo to develop properly. Egg incubators with automatic turning remove the need to manually turn the eggs, saving effort and the risk of forgetting.
However, eggs need not be turned during the final days of the process. Thus, the best automatic turners have programs to automatically stop turning the eggs. Others need to be manually disengaged.
Ease of cleaning
Eggshells are highly porous. Anything unhealthy inside a batch of eggs can make its way into the incubator and infect the next round of eggs. The best egg incubators can be taken completely apart so each piece can be rigorously cleaned in preparation for the next batch.
How much you can expect to spend on an egg incubator
Egg incubators can cost $20-$2,000. Basic small-batch incubators typically cost $40 or less, while higher capacity and more feature-rich models cost up to $100. Large capacity noncommercial incubators can hit $200, while commercial-grade models can reach or exceed $2,000.
Egg incubator FAQ
What temperature should my incubator be?
A. That depends on what kind of eggs you’re trying to hatch and what type of incubator you have. For example, if you’re hatching chicken eggs, the temperature should be 98 degrees for a forced-air incubator and 101 degrees for a still-air incubator. Use caution, as temperatures above 102 degrees will kill the embryos.
How long does it take to hatch a chicken?
A. Chicken eggs take 21 to 23 days to hatch once put in an incubator. If it’s been longer than 23 days, remove the eggs. They either won’t hatch at all, or they will hatch but into weak animals that will struggle to survive.
What other animals can I hatch in an incubator?
A. Despite incubators being chiefly designed for birds and mainly marketed for hatching chickens, they can actually be used to hatch almost any egg-based animal. That includes nearly any birds or reptiles and even turtles and tortoises. The only limiting factor is whether the incubator is large enough to hold the eggs and if it has the settings a given egg needs to be properly incubated.
What’s the best egg incubator to buy?
Top egg incubator
What you need to know: It is feature-packed and has a high capacity.
What you’ll love: The clear dome makes it easy to observe the process, plus a candler lets you double-check each egg’s progress. It has a digital humidity display and an automatic egg turner that stops turning three days before hatching is set to begin.
What you should consider: Some consumers reported sections of their incubators, such as temperature and humidity controls, stopped working halfway through an incubation period.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top egg incubator for the money
What you need to know: It’s simple, effective and affordable.
What you’ll love: It can hold up to 12 eggs, and it has an automatic egg turner, automatic temperature control, humidity alarm, timer and LED display. The entire process is fully automated — just insert your eggs and set the systems to match the animal you’re hatching.
What you should consider: Some customers had issues understanding the user manual and needed to research how to use their incubator elsewhere. Others had problems with the humidity control.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: It’s a good pick for hatching a handful of eggs.
What you’ll love: The compact size is perfect for those with limited space but still want a good amount of features. It has fully digital controls and programmable automatic egg turning, so eggs don’t turn close to hatching time. The ABS plastic material is easy to clean.
What you should consider: It’s expensive for the low egg count. It doesn’t have a hygrometer, though you can add one later. The inside is too tight for larger eggs.
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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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