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.
Even a simple Styrofoam 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.
- 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.
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 few good egg incubators to help you get your backyard flock started:
- Rcom Pro 10 Plus Incubator $239.95
This is a fully automatic desk top incubator that holds 10 eggs at a time. It automatically sets the proper temperature and humidity, turns the eggs and even has a candeling feature that allows you to monitor eggs for fertility.
- The Incredible Egg Incubator $99.99
For the price this is a great incubator. It is easy to clean with removable trays, a feature sorely lacking in Styrofoam incubators. The circulating fan distributes temperature controlled air evenly. There is a simple water tray to adjust humidity, and an optional egg turner. This is a great classroom model.
- IncuView Automatic All-in-One Egg Incubator $175
This plastic incubator has automatic temperature control, easily filled humidity rings with a hygrometer and a universal egg turner that works for chicken, quail or even goose eggs. They offer combo packages that include chick feeders, brooders or egg candelers at a fair price.
DIY Chicken Egg Incubator
Many people build their own egg incubators with great success. You 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.
Baby Chicks: The Complete Guide
Check out this step by step tutorial for building your own chicken egg incubator: