The Perfect Egg Incubator
There are many reasons that you might choose to hatch eggs artificially using an egg incubator. Perhaps you don’t have a broody hen or a safe space for her to raise her chicks, maybe you want to hatch more eggs than a hen can set on or perhaps you want to involve your children in the experience in a more hands-on way.
Incubating chicken eggs is a rewarding experience, but it does require some special equipment and a little know-how. This article will help you purchase or build the best chicken egg incubator. For tips on successful hatching using an egg incubator, check out our Rules for Hatching Chicken Eggs.
Choosing an Egg Incubator
There are a few things to consider when choosing an incubator:
Cheap incubators for hatching eggs are appealing to many people on their first hatch. But these egg incubators, typically made of Styrofoam, are all manual. There is a specific temperature and humidity for hatching chicken eggs and you will have to maintain these yourself, as well as turning the eggs several times a day. Essentially, if you are only going to hatch one batch from your egg incubator a cheap incubator might do quite nicely but if you are planning on hatching multiple times then consider a more advanced option.
Even a simple egg incubator can usually be purchased with add-ons, like automated egg turners or fans. Egg incubators with turners will save you more time than any other feature. Which features are most important to you will depend on how much input you want to have in the process of if you want a “set and forget” egg incubator.
- Full Automation
Fully automated egg incubators will take all the stress out of hatching chicken eggs. You just place the eggs inside and wait 21 days, the incubation period for chicken eggs, till the first chick pips. However, these incubators tend to be expensive, and may not be worth the investment unless you plan on incubating chicken eggs on a regular basis.
- A recent development in egg incubators is the addition of a permanent antibacterial additive that gets added into the plastic that provides maximum protection during the lifetime of the product. This add to the hygienic environment into which the chicks are born resulting in healthier chickens from day one.
Where to Find an Incubator
You can purchase a new egg incubator online or in a good feed or livestock store, purchase a used one from a friend or online, or build your own from common household materials.
Best Incubators for Sale
Here are a couple of good egg incubators to help you get your backyard flock started:
- Egg Tech Antibacterial Automatic Incubator
This is a fully automatic desk top incubator that holds between 12 and 49 chicken eggs at a time. It automatically sets the proper temperature and humidity, turns the eggs and even has a permanent antibacterial additive that has been added into the plastic that provides maximum protection during the lifetime of the product.
- Eggtech 12 Egg Incubators – Manual/Automatic
For the price this is a great incubator. Manufactured and designed in Italy, it is easy to clean and comes in both manual and automatic versions. Due to the small temperature increments available, the incubators are designed to hatch a large variety of eggs – fowls, pheasants, guinea fowl, quail, partridge, turkey, geese, pigeon, peacock as well as exotic birds
DIY Chicken Egg Incubator
Many people build their own egg incubators with great success. However if you are going down this path you need to remember that you are effectively going to be the mother hen for over 20 days and you need to be responsible for both temperature and humidity 24 hours per day. To build your egg incubator you will need:
- An Insulated Box – A Styrofoam cooler works well.
- A Heat Source – A simple 25-40 Watt bulb works well, but make sure you have a thermometer.
- A Humidity Source – A small cup or bowl of water with a sponge in it will suffice. Use a humidity monitor.
Check out this step by step tutorial for building your own chicken egg incubator: