Large dome style with outstanding visibility, candler, and 12-egg capacity. Boasts a reliable airflow system and automatic egg-turner. Digital display measures humidity levels.
A few faulty units initially worked properly then failed to regulate temperature and humidity, resulting in a low hatch rate.
Holds up to 12 eggs. Automatic temperature control, humidity alarm, and timer features. Includes user manual. Automatically rotates eggs.
The user manual isn’t as helpful as it could be, so we recommend doing your research before hatching birds with this model.
Holds 9 chicken or duck eggs/16 quail or pigeon eggs. Customizable digital display and incubation timer to accommodate your species. Includes simple instruction guide and spare fuse.
A humidity meter would have been a helpful feature for keeping tabs on the health of eggs.
Holds 9-12 eggs. Automatic egg-turning feature. Bright LED temperature display. Precise thermometer. Lightweight. Includes manual and extra fuse.
The tinted plastic makes it difficult to see inside the incubator, and you may have to open it several times to check in on the eggs.
Durable build that provides a clear view of eggs. Digital controls are easy to navigate. Compact design doesn't take up a lot of space. Turns eggs automatically.
Comes at a high price for a model that holds only 6 eggs and doesn't have a hygrometer.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
If you’re hatching 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 few 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 egg incubators come in. They're also useful when you simply want to experience the joys of raising birds besides chickens. You can use egg incubators for hatching ducks, quail, pigeons, geese, and more.
A good egg incubator should take care of most of the work — 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. An egg incubator also should be easy to clean and maintain between hatchings.
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.
Deciding whether or not to get an incubator with a fan 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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.