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When we got our first chicks we never dreamed we would dive into the world of hatching. But we very quickly picked up a small Brinsea incubator and not too long after that we bought our first cabinet. If you are following a similar path and want to know the best egg incubators you can buy, you’ve come to the right place
When it comes to egg hatching, we’ve done it all. Seriously, we’ve used small incubators, cabinet incubators. We’ve stuck eggs under a broody hen; we’ve done it all.
We have distilled that experience and made this list of the top 7 best egg incubators. They vary in size and features but should cover your needs, no matter what the may be.
7 Best Egg Incubators
Incubators can be split into 3 categories; still air, circulated air, and cabinet/automatic. Depending on your incubating goals, you will want to choose according to one of these categories.
Still air incubators
Little Giant White Miller Manufacturing Company 9300 Digital Still Air Incubator
Description: The Little Giant Digital Still Air Incubator features an LED lit LCD display with temperature and humidity reading. This unit has both a thermostat and hygrometer built into the display. The digital control panel is located directly between two large viewing windows so you can observe your eggs and chicks without disrupting the temperature or humidity levels.
This incubator is made of a sturdy and durable styrofoam. The styrofoam material also helps insulate and maintain a consistent temperature. This is the lowest price incubator on this list and is an excellent choice for an entry level incubator.
Features: large windows for viewing, built-in thermostat, holds 41 chicken eggs or 120 bantam/quail eggs, styrofoam build insulates and retains heat
Specifications: Dimensions (L x W x H): 17.75 x 17.75 x 8 inches, Weight: 3.1 lbs
– low price
– backlit, digital display for easy temperature reading
– large viewing windows so you can see and not disturb your eggs/chicks
– temperature can fluctuate and create “hot spots”
– made of styrofoam
– built-in hygrometer is not always reliable. May need to purchase one separately
– may need to experiment with egg placement to insure proper temperature
GQF Thermal Air Hova-Bator
Description: GQF and their Hova-Bator product line are a well known manufacturer of incubators. In fact, we owned one of their cabinets featured later in this list). This Hova-Bator is another choice at a great price point if you are looking to get into incubating your own eggs.
This model features two small windows on the lid so you can observe your eggs and chicks without disturbing them too much. Its large size accommodates up to 42 chicken eggs. However, it is able to stay lightweight at under 2 lbs due to its styrofoam build.
The temperature requires manual adjustment. You also must turn your eggs manually, however, there is an automatic turner that can be purchased separately.
Features: exhaust system allows constant flow of air, two viewing windows, can hold 42 chicken eggs
Specifications: Dimensions (L x W x H): 46.35 x 46.35 x 13.08 inches, Weight: 1.18 lbs
– easy to clean
– well known brand
– low cost
– large footprint
– difficult to add water
– thermometer can be unreliable
– will need hygrometer
Circulated air incubators
Brinsea Manual Egg Incubator – Octagon 20eco
Description: We have owned 2 of these units. We purchased the first one and, as we ramped up our hatching schedule, purchased a second. We can honestly say, this is one of the best egg incubators on the market.
This Brinsea model can easily accommodate up to 24 medium sized chicken eggs, even more if you are hatching a smaller bantam breed. The kit include removable rails so you can adjust for multiple egg sizes.
The entire lid is transparent which makes it very easy to observe your eggs and chicks without letting the heat or humidity escape. The temperature can be adjusted from the outside and is under a tamper proof panel. This unit also includes a fan to keep the air circulating.
The thermometer included is a bit difficult to read and there is no hygrometer included. We remedied that issue by purchasing a digital hygrometer that doubled as a thermometer.
Features: tamper proof temperature guage, built in thermometer, hold 24 chicken eggs or equivalent size, fan for air circulation, clear plastic housing for easy viewing, ABS plastic construction for easy cleaning
Specifications: Dimensions (L x W x H): 13 x 9.5 x 10 inches, Weight: 8 lbs
– simple to use out of the box
– easy to clean
– thermometer is difficult to read
– needs hygrometer to measure humidity (sold seperately)
– can be difficult to maintain high levels of humidity for lockdown
– fan can be loud
HovaBator Genesis 1588 Advanced Egg Incubator Combo Kit
Description: The Hova-Bator 1588 Genesis is a fully automatic incubator. The entire kit includes everything you need to start hatching eggs, and will allow you to do it with relative ease.
The unit itself is made of durable styrofoam which will help keep a constant temperature and humidity level. The lid has a built in digital display with both a thermometer and a hygrometer. The thermometer also includes a thermostat so you can truly set your temp and forget it.
Another great feature is the “IncuTurn” automatic egg turner. The egg turner slowly turns your eggs 6 times a day so you dont have to do this manually. It claims this pattern is to mimic a mother hen in nature.
The egg tray is universal in size and made to hold multiple sized eggs. HovaBator estimates an egg capacity of 42 chicken eggs, 70 quail eggs, or 28 goose eggs.
The Amazon reviews for this unit are almost all stellar. Honestly, the only cons I could think of were maybe the price. I would want something sturdier than styrofoam for the price point. But, then again, the Amazon reviews don’t seem to mind.
Features: automatic thermostat, automatic egg turner, built in temperature and humidity gauge, holds 42 chicken eggs
Specifications: Dimensions (L x W x H): 19.25 x 19.25 x 5.6 inches, Weight: 5.64 pounds
– holds temperature accurately
– holds humidity
– automatic egg turner
– large, clear display for easy egg/chick viewing
Magicfly Digital Mini Fully Automatic Egg Incubator
This unit is perfect for a hobbyist just wanting to hatch a few chicks. It only holds up to 12 eggs, so you wont be able to hatch with any kind of high volume. But, as a hobbyist, you shouldn’t need more space.
One thing you will read in a lot of incubator reviews is the thermostat is not reliable. Nearly every review for this unit spoke highly of the accuracy of the temperature. It also includes a forced air fan. The fan helps to circulate the air and keep the temperature regulated. This is likely a big reason why the thermometer is so reliable. That and the small size of the unit.
The MagicFly can easily sit on a countertop and not take up too much space. The fan is effective yet quiet. This unit also includes and automatic egg turner. You will need to purchase a separate hygrometer, as there is not one included. But other than that, you have an extremely well rounded, compact, egg hatching machine!
Features: automatic egg turner, fully automatic, holds up to 12 chicken eggs
Specifications: Dimensions (L x W x H): 13.98 x 7.48 x 6.89 inches, Weight: 13.77 pounds
– automatic turner
– easy to use
– thermostat is reliable
– display shows temperature in celsius (not exactly a con but some will need to convert to fahrenheit)
– needs a separate hygrometer
– adding water can be cumbersome
– egg turner needs manual adjustment
Cabinet style & automatic incubators
GQF 1502 Cabinet Incubator Hatcher
This is the second entry on this list that we have owned personally. We cannot say enough good things about this unit. If you are really looking to increase your hatching program, this is one of the best egg incubators and you can’t go wrong with this cabinet.
It is a fully automatic system. The trays turn and rotate your eggs on a schedule. The thermostat is pinpoint accurate, as well as the internal hygrometer. Everything is easily monitored from the digital display located on the side of the unit.
You can fit 270 large chicken eggs in the 6 trays that are provided. The water reservoir holds about a gallon of water at a time so it does not need to be refilled constantly. There is even a water reserve system you can purchase separately which will make refills even less often.
This unit also comes with a hatching drawer located in the bottom of the unit. The drawer easily pulls out and the eggs are able to be placed in it once lockdown begins. Our only complaint about the drawer is you will need to put something textured in the bottom. It is made of a sturdy cardboard but can be a bit slick for new born chicks. Our first hatch had a few chicks with splay leg, but once we added some textured material, we no longer had that problem.
Cleaning the unit is simple. it has plenty of room inside so you can easily run a wash cloth along the inner walls and vacuum out the fan, as needed. Overall, this is a great machine and our top pick if you want to really ramp up your hatching schedule.
Features: digital thermostat and humidity, large water reservoir, 6 piece hatching trays, will hold up to 270 chicken eggs, hatching drawer
Specifications: Dimensions (L x W x H): 30 1/4 x 15 3/4 x 31 3/4 inches
– fully automatic
– maintains temperature and humidity well
– easy to clean
– hatching drawer bottom can be too slick. needs textured material
Brinsea Ova-Easy 380 Cabinet Incubator
This is Brinsea’s second appearance on this list. The Ova-Easy unit is for the true high production hatcher. This cabinet is built to incubate a whopping 384 chicken eggs!
Obviously, a unit with that capacity is going to be a bit larger than the other entries on this list. It stands at over 3 feet tall, over 3 feet long, almost 2 feet wide, and weighs 180 lbs. So you will need a dedicated space for it.
The Ova-Easy has a digital display conveniently located right on the front of the machine. You can easily check the temperature, the humidity level, control the ventilation, and check on your eggs all at the same time.
Possibly the best feature of all, is the HUGE clear door. Some of the other units have small windows which can be difficult to see through when the cabinet is dark. This unit has a nice, clear window through which you can see everything happening in your egg hatching process!
Features: holds 384 chicken eggs, can accommodate any size egg (for larger fowl), digital control system for temperature and humidity monitoring
Specifications: Dimensions (L x W x H): 37 x 22 x 37 inches, Weight: 180 lbs
– trusted brand
– incubate and hatch in one cabinet
– fully automatic
– need to purchase additional product if you want to avoid refilling water – during incubation
– large footprint
Why do you need an incubator?
Duh! It’s to hatch chicks. But why not just use an old broody hen and let nature take it’s course?
You could incubate eggs under a broody hen. We’ve done it and it can work. However, the hatch rate is not going to be nearly as high as an incubator. The chicks also have a tougher time outside than they do in a nice, climate controlled incubator.
You can always buy chicks every year from a hatchery, a local farmer, or a farm store. That can get expensive after a while. Plus, hatching your own chicks is more fulfilling.
Finally, if hatching and selling chicks is one of the ways that you make money with chickens, you can use an incubator to create a reliable hatching schedule. You can plan out exactly when you want to incubate, how many chicks you want to hatch, and how large of a supply you will have to sell.
Types of Incubators
As mentioned above, incubators fall into 3 categories; still air, circulated air, and cabinet/automatic incubators. Each have their own distinct characteristics and can be great choices depending on why you would like to get an incubator.
Still air incubators
Still air incubators are basically hot boxes in which you can hatch your eggs. They are called still air because you set the heat, close the lid, and wait. There is no fan to circulate the air.
Typically, still air incubators are lower cost than circulated air incubators, simply due to the fact that they contain less hardware. They are good entry level incubators but require much more attention. Depending on their size, you can have pockets of air which are hotter or cooler than the thermometer might say.
Circulated air incubators
Circulated air incubators are the opposite of still air incubators. These units typically contain a fan to keep the air moving. Since the air is moving and not just sitting, the temperature stays much more consistent throughout the entire incubator.
You will still need to monitor the temperature with a thermometer but you can be much more confident you aren’t chilling (or coooking) your chicks in their shells.
Cabinet style & automatic incubators
Cabinets and automatic incubators are our particular favorite category for best egg incubators. We lump them together because most cabinets are fully automatic. A cabinet, at it’s core, is simply going to be a circulated air incubator with a much larger egg capacity. Whereas, a small incubator will generally not hold more than 50 eggs, a large cabinet can hold several hundred!
Automatic just means that the machine will do most of the routine tasks you would normally have to do by hand. Such as, eggs must be rotated to stay healthy. Automatic incubators will turn them for you. Most have internal thermostats and hygrometers to maintain the correct temperature and humidity level, respectively. Most even have separate units to supply water so you don’t even have to refill the humidity reservoir.
Cabinets and automatic incubators are where high capacity hatching and convenience cross paths.
What to look for in an incubator
When selecting the best egg incubator, here are some of the features, specs, and details you will need to look for and take into consideration.
How many eggs will it hold? Are you a hobbyist with a small flock that only wants to hatch a couple chicks at a time? The MagicFly may be the unit for you.
Are you wanting to start up a full hatching schedule and care for hundreds of baby chicks at a time? If that is your goal, you’re going to need a large cabinet.
If you fall somewhere in the middle, there are also several mid sized incubators for you to choose from.
How much space will it take up in your home? Incubators can be really small and fit on your counter top. The can also be huge and need their own area. Some of the larger cabinets will have ventilation holes on their back and sides that can’t be blocked. You will need to decide how much space you have in your home to dedicate to an incubator.
How much time can you dedicate to egg incubation?
If you are hatching a small amount of chicks at a time and this is a passion project for you, you may not mind turning your eggs a few times a day. but if you are hatching at higher volumes, you may not have the schedule to turn hundreds of eggs 6 times a day.
The openness of your schedule plays a huge factor in deciding whether you should get a completely manual incubator or a fully automatic incubator with all the bells in whistles.
Automatic Vs Manual
One of the major differences in incubators is whether or not they are automatic or manual. The difference being, manual incubators require you to play an active role in all of it’s functions. Automatic incubators will perform a lot of them for you.
Personally, in our opinion, the best egg incubators are mostly, if not fully, automatic. They just make hatching so much easier.
Eggs must be kept at a certain humidity level curing incubation and a different humidity level during hatch. Some automatic incubators will monitor, control, and manage a water reservoir to maintain perfect levels of humidity.
Manual incubators will require you to fill with water. You will need to purchase a hygrometer to measure the humidity level as well as adjust the vents to keep humidity within the correct range. You will also need to monitor the humidity to adjust for any household changes that could cause the humidity level to change.
Automatic incubators will have a thermostat that will maintain the correct temperature. Manual will require you to monitor the temperature yourself.
With manual, in addition to monitoring the temperature you will also need to adjust the ventilation to maintain the proper humidity level without losing heat.
Automatic incubators have egg turners set to a timer to keep the yolk moving throughout the early stages of incubation. Manual incubators will require you to turn the eggs yourself on a schedule.
Keeping your incubator clean is a MUST. Nothing is worse than an unfertilized egg that has been kept warm for a few weeks that decides to pop. When (and we mean WHEN) this happens, you will want to have an incubator that is easy to clean, but also easy to put back together.
Aside from the random exploding egg, it is also important to routinely clean your incubator from chick fluff and egg shells particles. You may not think about it as an important factor when initially researching incubators, but ease of cleaning is a major factor.
You have several choices to pick from this list of the best egg incubators. Each are certainly worth using!