What incubator should I get?

Chicken person

In the Brooder
7 Years
Oct 15, 2012
Lake Charles, La.
Next springing I want to hatch some eggs and was wondering what y'all think the best incubator is for the money. I want to hatch a few batches of chickens and a couple of quail and pheasants. I will be willing to pay up to 300 for.
You'll get different opinions from us because we have had different experiences with the same type of incubator. Instead of recommending one, I'll try to talk about the things I'd consider now that I've actually used an incubator.

How many eggs are you putting in at a time and how often will you use it? It doesn't hurt for it to be a little bigger than you need it. That might give you room for a hygrometer and thermometer. But the larger they are, the more expensive. So set the size you want first.

The more often you use it, the more you can justify spending more money to get ease of operation. The things I'd consider are turning eggs, keeping the humidity right, adjusting temperature, forced air versus still air, and cleaning it after the hatch.

I highly recommend you get an automatic turner. Lots of people turn by hand, but you are tied to the incubator a few times a day if you commit to that. There are times I am gone all day until late at night or even overnight. With an automatic turner I don't have to worry about that.

There are different ways to adjust the humidity, depending on the type you get. With mine, I fill reservoirs at the bottom when they run dry. That's a little inconvenient because I have trouble telling when the reservoir is dry (that's the main reason I use a hygrometer, so I can tell when the humidity drops) but I have to open the incubator so I can smell the eggs and see better what is going on. Some have the water reservoir outside with a delivery system so all you have to do is look in that reservoir and keep it full. I think some of the better ones may adjust the humidity for you so you don't need to adjust it yourself. For me, this is a wash, but some people really like that outside reservoir. I like regularly opening it to smell the eggs so I can easier tell if one is going bad.

When you get yours, don't trust any thermometer that comes with it, no matter how expensive it is. Always calibrate it. For different reasons, any of them can be off a bit and you may need to adjust it. It took me three hatches to get mine right. It’s really nice to have one that is not hard to tweak the thermostat a bit. I have the old model Genesis 1588 and that one is a pain to adjust. The new model is much easier.

I suggest you get a forced air. Lots of eggs have hatched in still air incubators, so they can and do work. But I think a forced air (one with a fan) has advantages. It should keep the temperature the same throughout the entire incubator. Since warm air rises, you can get quite a bit of difference in temperature depending on where you take that temperature. It’s a lot easier to know what the temperature actually is in a forced air. It’s also easier to get warm or cool spots in a still air just due to the geometry of the incubator. Since eggs just a tad warmer can hatch early and a tad cool can hatch late, you can get extended hatches, which can be very stressful.

The developing chick has to breathe through the porous egg shell. With a forced air, you are always getting air exchange so you get oxygen available. With the still air, you get less air exchange, though as long as you have the vent open, you should get plenty due to warm air rising. I also think a forced air recovers humidity and temperature faster when you open the incubator to add water or candle.

I got a Styrofoam incubator. With the tray at the bottom it is not usually all that hard to clean since the tray catches practically all the mess. But a hard plastic one is easier to clean and you do need to sterilize the incubator after each hatch. I only do two or three hatches a year so it is not that big a deal for me, but the more hatches you are doing, the easier you probably want it to be to clean.

I haven’t priced them lately. The Brinsea is a better incubator and generally easier to use than the Genesis Hovabator and the price shows that. If I had to buy another one, I’d probably go with another Genesis Hovabator 1588 since they have made the temperature control easier to adjust and the size suits me. Since I only hatch in it two or three times a year, I have trouble justifying the extra expense for the Brinsea.

Hope you get something out of this that helps. Good luck!

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom