Help me choose a bator!!!


Constant State of Confusion
13 Years
May 15, 2010
I am new to chickens this year and while they are still too young to lay eggs yet, I am wanting to invest in an incubator as I have some rare chickens (Black Copper Marans Wade Jean Line) and I am wanting to purchase some Tolbunt Polish eggs to hatch. I am small scale and do not need an incubator that hold 100's of eggs. I am looking for a styrofoam one IF they are any good. I've seen people rant about their styrofoam bators and I do not want to purchase one if they are no good. My questions are:

1) What kind of incubator do you have and what are the pros and cons about it?
2) If you had it to do all over again, would you purchase the same one?
3) I read about the egg carton method and am curious about how that works.
4) How many of you have turners in your incuboator or do you turn them by hand.

Any information is greatly appreciated and will be considered strongly. Thank you in advance.
I've been very happy with my Hova-bator styrofoam incubator, and would certainly purchase again if I had it to do over. I am less impressed with the Little Giant that I also own, but it has proven adequate nonetheless.

Hovabator pros: Inexpensive for the number of eggs, capable of incubating 42 eggs which seems like a lot but turns out to be about right most of the time for the small home flock, reliable on temps, easy to operate, reliable and steady.

Hovabator cons: Well, it's basic. No bells and whistles. The thermostat takes some practice to get used to operating, and the components are inexpensive materials. The styrofoam soaks up contaminants and is hard to get clean. It's also easy to damage, thanks to the styrofoam materials.

I love hatching in egg cartons. It simply means that instead of placing eggs on their sides for hatching, you put them large-end-up in an egg carton. The advantages of this method are: The babies don't shove each other around as much after hatching, it's easier to see pips when they occur, and the babies are stronger when they first arrive because it takes them longer to push their way out. Oh, and it's less messy--the gunk and afterbirth and what-not from the egg stays in the bottom of the shell instead of getting spread all over the incubator.

Disadvantages of the method: If your air cells are underdeveloped from too-high humidity during incubation, babies may have better luck hatching on their sides because they won't have to work against gravity to keep their bills above the membrane (this is a personal theory, and not scientifically tested--just based on observation which, technically, makes it a hypothesis not a theory); it takes the babies longer to get out of the shell after pushing the top off, which turns out to be an advantage in my opinion but it bothers some folks

I use a turner during most of incubation and move to the cartons for the hatch, but if you're planning to turn manually the egg cartons can help with that too, as you can just prop one side of the egg carton up at a 45 degree angle and then prop the other side for "turning."

Hope that helps, and good luck and have fun!
I got a loaner Little Giant incubator and it's been great. I have hatched 4 set of eggs received from 4 different shippers and only one of the sets of eggs did not hatch. Bad, bad shipping via USPS. The other sets had awesome results. I did buy an egg turner because I didn't want to hand turn that many eggs 3X a day!I had also made an incubator/hatcher that so far I have primarily used as my hatcher since I had so many staggered hatches. I did not use the egg carton method. I placed them on their sides in the hatcher with no apparent hatching problems due to putting them on their sides. I don't have a fan in the Little Giant. I think because it is such a low profile incubator that temp differences from one section to another are minimal. The losses from quitters/blood rings, etc were in the range of norm for shipped eggs so I'm not concerned about that at all. Overall, I think I had a 75% hatch rate. I'd have to actually sit down and work out the numbers to know for sure.

Funny thing about incubators, though. One brand may work wonderfully for one person on one side of the country while that same bator may suck for someone on the opposite side of the country. Outside room temps and humidity can play a major role on how well it performs.
I have a Brinsea
Octagon 20 Advance and I love It
It is so easy to use. Brinsea has it on sale now $299.00
with the turner. Has all the bells and whistles. Temp alarm, displays the humidity %, I set it for 99.5 and it stays steady at 99.5 you can also get an optional humidity pump. But I did not need it for chickens. But it would be a nice add on to have. And honestly I have no cons about it. I made sure that I registered it for the extended warranty. Which is two years
should anything ever go wrong.
I would for sure buy this again!! Good luck!
I have a styrofoam Little Giant forced-air incubator for hatching duck, chicken, and even 2 pigeon eggs. I hatched duck eggs in it three years ago........ so in 6th grade. I just did it for fun, and got a 55% hatch rate out of 40 eggs, but the low rate is probably partially my fault. My biggest problem was the unpredictable temperature. Last year I tried hatching 25 mix-breed chicken eggs from my neighbor, but on the 15th day the temp. spiked to 120F and all the embryos died.
So my problems are: unpredictable temp., styrofoam breaks easily (the corner broke off the lid of the bator), humidity is hard to control, and styrofoam stains easily and is almost impossible to clean. Overall, I would not recomend the little giant incubator if you want an okay hatch-rate.
I have brinsea mini eco and it awesome!
It hols temps rock stable and the same with humidity.
It has 360 degree view.
Its easy to clean.
Hi, I just used the little giant still air incubator for the 1st time. Out of 14 fertile eggs, 4 did not hatch. The chicks are fully developed inside, I don't think they ever broke through to the air pocket. Anyway, it was easy to use and I'd recommend it to someone starting out. The price is right. I manually turned the eggs b/c I don't have a turner yet, and I'm home a lot b/c I have 3 children so it wasn't much of a bother to be home to turn them. I want to buy the hovabator circulated air incubator w/thermostat, b/c one thing with the little giant was that I had to be on top of the temperature. I found that it crept up mid-day and went a little lower than it should at night. But I don't have A/C and it's been warmer here so it's just the environment my eggs were in. I haven't cleaned the incubator yet but I am sure it's going to be a bit of a pain from what I've read.....

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