Best Egg Incubators

Updated July 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

27 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
358 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best egg incubators

Last Updated July 2020

If you’re raising your own chickens, you need an egg incubator. Some breeds of chicken won’t brood — sit on their eggs to hatch them — for the first two or three years of life. They’ll lay plenty of eggs, and they may even be fertilized, but if the chickens won’t sit on them, the eggs won’t hatch. In the meantime, you need some chicks to start hatching.

That’s where a good incubator comes in. An incubator is also useful when you simply want to experience the joys of raising birds besides chickens. Incubators can be used for hatching ducks, quail, pigeons, geese, and more. But which one should you get?

A good egg incubator should be able to take most of the work off your hands — unless you enjoy turning eggs manually every day. The temperature and humidity controls should be easy to understand and use, and there should be enough room for the number of eggs you want to hatch. Furthermore, the egg incubator should be easy to clean and maintain between hatchings.

Keep reading, and we’ll walk you through the options you need to consider when shopping for an egg incubator.

If eggs in your incubator haven’t hatched after 23 days, you should stop incubating them. Chicks that hatch late tend to be sickly or weak.

Key considerations

Size

The size of the incubator depends on how many eggs you want to incubate at once. Are you a hobbyist or perhaps conducting a summer project for some children? For teachers and 4H instructors, an incubator can be a valuable piece of equipment, but you probably won’t need a commercial-size one.

First, determine how many chicks you want to hatch. Then, get an incubator that will handle that many eggs. Keep in mind that ducks, geese, quail, chickens, pigeons, and other birds all have different egg sizes, so you should plan accordingly.

For example, the average chicken egg weighs around 57 grams, while the average goose egg weighs nearly four times as much at 218 grams. An incubator that holds 15 chicken eggs would only hold three goose eggs.

Forced air vs. still air

Deciding whether to get an incubator with a fan or not may not seem like a big deal at first, but most incubators that don’t have forced air also don’t have automatic egg turners. You’d have to manually turn the eggs every day, meaning you’d have to stay near the incubator virtually all the time.

The temperature in a still air incubator also has to be set slightly higher than in a forced air one in order to distribute the heat evenly. Manual incubators have fewer moving parts and therefore tend to last longer and be more reliable than automatic incubators.

DID YOU KNOW?

Incubators with automatic egg turners mimic the actions of a mother hen rolling her eggs around in the nest.

Features

Material

For health reasons, most modern incubators are made from high-quality polypropylene and ABS plastic. These materials are easy to clean and are very durable.

The heating elements are metal or ceramic. These are normally the first parts to break or wear out, but they are easily replaceable.

Egg turning

Eggs have to be turned on a regular basis during the incubation process. If they aren’t turned, the embryonic chick will settle at the bottom of the shell and become stuck to it. This will prevent the embryo from receiving enough air to all parts of its body. Only the part of the embryo closest to the shell would receive enough oxygen. Turning the eggs ensures an even distribution of oxygen during embryonic development.

However, the eggs should not be turned during the last three to four days before hatching. By that point, the developing chick could be hurt by being thrown around inside the shell.

Incubators with automatic egg turners should turn the eggs during the regular development process and stop turning them at the end. Most do this automatically, but some require you to disable the egg turner.

Humidity controls

Internal humidity in the egg is important. Eggshells are very porous. During incubation, they gradually lose moisture through evaporation. As they do, air seeps into the egg’s air sac. The air sac will gradually increase in size until the chick is ready to start breathing.

If there is too much humidity in the egg, the membrane around the air sac will be rubbery and thick. The chick won’t be able to break through it (called internal pipping) and will suffocate. If there isn’t enough humidity, the egg will dry too quickly, and the chick will die from thirst.

The humidity controls on an incubator should allow you to change the settings depending on where you live. An incubator in Great Britain, where there is abundant humidity in the air, won’t need the controls set as high as an incubator in Arizona, where the air is excessively dry.

During the majority of the incubation period, the humidity inside the incubator should be around 45% to 50%. During the last few days before hatching, it should be increased to 65%.

Ease of cleaning

Small parts are difficult to clean. Small parts that don’t come out are even harder to clean. All the parts of an incubator should be readily accessible or removable for easy cleaning. Due to the high permeability of eggshells, bacteria and infections from a previous batch of eggs can infect the next batch you put in the incubator. Ease of cleaning is a must for incubators if you want to avoid hatching sick birds.

Eggs in an incubator don’t have to suffer the whims of a broody hen, who may or may not stick with them until they hatch. Therefore, an incubator is actually more reliable than a hen.

Accessories

Egg candler: hblife Bright Cool LED Light Egg Candler Tester
An egg candler is a light that can shine through an egg so you can see the contents. With this light, you can determine how well the chick is developing and how big the air sac is becoming. This LED candler from hblife shines a bright but cool light through the egg without overheating it.

Egg apron: Chicken Egg Gathering and Collecting Apron
Remember Aunt Em in The Wizard of Oz collecting eggs in her apron? She had to pile them on top of each other, but this egg apron from Campfire Pros has built-in pockets to hold each individual egg and keep them from breaking one another.

Egg incubator prices

Inexpensive: The low price range for egg incubators starts at $30 to $40. These are small incubators that hold fewer than 10 chicken eggs. Many in this range won’t have automatic egg turners. The temperature and humidity controls may require manual supervision.

Mid-range: The medium price range for egg incubators lies between $40 and $100. These incubators will hold 12 to 20 chicken eggs. They usually have automatic egg turners, fans, and temperature and humidity controls.

Expensive: For hobbyists, anything between $100 and $200 is considered a high price range. These incubators may hold 20 to 45 chicken eggs. Commercial incubators holding hundreds of eggs may run over $1,800.

DID YOU KNOW?

If the humidity in your incubator is set correctly, a chicken egg will lose approximately 13% of its weight through evaporation by the time it hatches.

Tips

  • No matter how many eggs you put in your incubator, it’s unlikely that all of them will hatch. You didn’t do anything wrong if that happens. If none of them hatch, though, it’s usually is a problem with the incubator. Check all the settings to make sure your incubator is working correctly before trying again.
  • During the incubation period, put your incubator in a place where you can get to it easily to clean and maintain it — but not where it will be subjected to high temperatures from direct sunlight.
  • Expect some noise from the fan if you have a forced-air incubator. There is no such thing as a completely silent incubator that has a fan in it.

Other products we considered

We like the HovaBator 2370 Egg Incubator Advanced Combo Kit from Incubator Warehouse. This large-capacity incubator holds 42 chicken eggs, 70 quail eggs, or 28 goose eggs. It gently turns the eggs six times a day and has a high- and low-temperature alarm, two 5 x 4-inch viewing windows, an air circulation fan, a humidity gauge, and digital controls. This is a fairly pricey battery-operated incubator that runs on an included battery.

We also like the TRIOCOTTAGE Mini Automatic Eggs Incubator. It can hold 15 chicken eggs or 21 pigeon eggs or three goose eggs. It has an automatic egg turner, temperature control, and humidity settings. The eggs are turned every two hours throughout the incubation process. There is a built-in LED candler for checking the progress of your eggs. It includes a Styrofoam cover to hold in the heat with windows cut in it so you see the eggs.

Cleaning an incubator should be done with warm water, mild detergent, and a sponge. Once it is clean, disinfect it with formaldehyde or chlorine. Let it dry for at least one day before using it again.

FAQ

Q. What is the best temperature for chicken eggs?
A.
The best temperature is 98º F (37º C). This is recommended in a forced-air incubator. In a still-air incubator, set the temperature to 101º F (38.3º C).
 

Q. What temperature will kill the eggs?
A.
Any temperature above 102º F (38.8º C) will kill the embryos in the eggs.
 

Q. Do I need to have a back-up power supply for my incubator?
A.
Yes. If the power goes out at your location, the incubator will shut off. If the power stays off for very long, the developing chicks will die. An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) will prevent that from happening.

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
  • Arnold
    Arnold
    Writer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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