When I started keeping hens for eggs, I realized that at some point I would want to breed them. Keeping hens was pleasant and as I kept more and more, got some rare breeds, and started selling their eggs, I realized I could make it into a small business. But I didn’t know where to start. Getting chickens to breed and lay is the easy part. But incubating is another matter. After trying my luck with homemade solutions, eventually I took the plunge and bought some incubators. I’ve had a few incubators now, and these five have to be my favourites.
Top 5 Best Egg Incubator 2020 Reviews
1. GQF 1588 Genesis Hova-Bator Incubator
This egg incubator is a great model for a beginner at egg hatching. It holds 50 hen eggs or up to 130 quail eggs at any one time. The Genesis Hova-Bator comes pre-set for poultry, so you don’t need to set it up.
Because its display tells you everything you need to know – set temperature, current temperature, and humidity – in simple numbers, you will enjoy peace of mind.
We found that it kept a very precise temperature. And the clear case allows you to check on your eggs without disturbing them. All these features also make this incubator a great model for kids. That said, you do have to manually add water, which can get a little messy due to the construction of the warmer.
We used a towel to limit spillage during water refills. It also comes with a removable bottom liner which was simple to take out and clean. But we found it hard to clean the rest of it inside.
Our Rating: (4.1 / 5)
- Simple starter incubator.
- Suitable for most eggs as you can adjust it.
- Easy-to-read display.
- Removable, washable bottom liner.
- Certified safe for classroom use.
- Clear top for observing without disturbing the eggs, and peace of mind.
- Great hatch rate.
- It only holds 50 hen eggs, fewer if you add an automatic turner.
- It does not come with a turner, so you have to remember to check and turn manually.
- Leaks water.
- The inside, other than the liner, is hard to clean.
2. R-Com Max 20 Fully Automatic Digital Egg Incubator
This egg incubator is a slightly more expensive item than the last one, but only because it’s a more thorough, high-end item. Despite this, we found it very simple and effective to use. And it only holds twenty eggs, so it’s still a good idea for beginners.
It comes with an automatic egg-turner and automatic temperature and humidity adjustment. This product also has an alarm for sudden temperature changes. It sucks in fresh air, but with a strong seal so the temperature is preserved.
The design of the floor allows for many different sizes of egg to be placed in the incubator, but is also safe for the legs of newly hatched chicks. We found the turner was definitely safe for chicks’ legs, but for some reason the pips happened at the bottom of the egg rather than the top. This may be a sign of inefficient turning. Fortunately it is compatible with other turners.
Our Rating: (4.8 / 5)
- Great temperature adjustment.
- Has its own turner.
- Fresh air pumped through.
- Safe for chicks’ legs.
- Inefficient egg turning. Pips on bottom.
- Doesn’t come with the separated egg-tray.
- More expensive.
- Only carries up to 20 eggs.
3. Brinsea Products Maxi II Advance Automatic 14 Egg Incubator
This egg incubator once again comes in at a heftier price, and once again holds fewer eggs: 14 hen’s eggs this time. But we found it was well worth the price, especially for our rare breed eggs and for ones that often proved difficult to hatch in other incubators.
It has an automatic turner that stops two days before the estimated hatching date, which it provides a countdown for. It also has alarms that make sure you know when the temperature gets too high or too low. And the digital display offers complete peace of mind. It has micro-controls, which is a fancy way of saying you can adjust everything with the press of a button. But it can be a bother to set up.
And thanks to the clear lid, auto-turning, water reservoirs, and temperature controls, you don’t need to open the incubator at all except for candling. We were concerned the reservoirs wouldn’t be enough, but they held up beautifully. Almost all the eggs we’ve tried in it hatched, which is great. It can be a bit small for larger breeds, but just make sure to keep an eye on them on hatch day and it will be fine.
Our Rating: (4.1 / 5)
- Automatic turner.
- Hatching countdown, and turner turns off before hatching starts.
- Very safe for hatchlings.
- Completely self-contained.
- Great displays for peace of mind.
- Difficult to set up.
- Only holds 14 eggs.
- More expensive.
- Bit small for hatchlings.
4. Farm Innovators Model 4250 Digital Circulated Air Incubator
This egg incubator is the very definition of value for money. It is one of the cheapest we used, but it isn’t lacking in features. It holds up to 41 eggs, so there’s plenty of room for hatching and it is great for beginners.
This product has a slow automatic egg turner, circulates fresh air, and has a temperature notification light. Its digital display is totally fool proof, telling you how many days are left until hatching, the temperature, and the humidity.
However it does not have a proper temperature alarm, which I found a little stressful. I used a secondary thermometer with it so I could get loud alarms if something went wrong. This, and the fact that it was hard to raise the humidity, put me off using it for rare breeds. We also didn’t have a great hatch rate. Around 30 of 41. The window allows you to see all your eggs, for peace of mind.
Our Rating: (3.4 / 5)
- Auto-turner included, good and steady speed.
- Very cheap.
- Comes with a candle.
- Useful display, fool-proof set up.
- Good visibility of the eggs.
- Holds 41 eggs.
- No temperature alarm.
- Hard to raise the humidity enough.
- Sometimes the temperature glitches.
5. Orange A Reptile Egg Incubator 23L Capacity Mini Digital Incubator
Until now we’ve been looking at ones primarily designed for hen eggs. And though you can use some of them for reptiles too, I would advise looking for a specialist one. We tried using our hen incubators for bearded dragon eggs and the hatch rate was terrible.
This egg incubator is specially designed for reptile eggs and does the best job of any we’ve tried, for the most reasonable price. Because of its accurate temperature control you can adjust it for different stages of development, or even hibernation, and it will help the eggs form naturally.
The humidity is very well maintained, and though the temperature varies, it’s within range. I wouldn’t use it for reptiles that need an incredibly precise temperature though. The display and clear window mean you can check the temperature, humidity, and the appearance of your eggs without bothering them.
Our Rating: (4.8 / 5)
- Well built and durable.
- Cheap – great value for money.
- Specially designed for reptiles.
- Heats and cools quickly.
- Useful displays and window.
- Maintains humidity perfectly.
- Temperature may vary a bit too much.
- Not for hens or other birds.
Egg Incubator Benefits
Like I said, when we started breeding hens we tried incubating our eggs with home rigs. And it really didn’t do the job for us. The hatch rate was bad, we were very stressed because of having to monitor the eggs, and all the handling to check temperature and candle them probably didn’t help out hatch rate. Giving up and buying incubators was the best decision we made. The benefits speak for themselves:
A safe, controlled environment means no more fussing over eggs. It can be a nightmare to spend half a day moving in and out of a room, trying to get the temperature and humidity right. And constantly picking up and checking the eggs is highly disruptive. Your hatch rate will drop and your sanity will be threatened. And displays, temperature alarms, and automatic turning give you great peace of mind without having to open the incubator. Home-rigs tend to be hard to look into, increasing anxiety. With an incubator you can watch everything effortlessly. And minimal involvement plus a good environment equals high hatch rates.
It may seem like a smart, money-saving decision to try and incubate eggs in a home rig, or to do it the old-fashioned way, or let the hens do the hatching. But in the long run, incubators will save more money than they cost. The loss rates we’ve experienced from leaving eggs in nesting boxes, and trying to hatch them ourselves, cost more than all the incubators we’ve bought put together. That said, not every incubator will improve your hatch rate. To find the incubator that’s right for you, check out our buying guide.
Egg Incubator Buying Guide
When looking for an incubator, always think of what you are going to be hatching first. Like we realized when we got some bearded dragon eggs, an incubator that is amazing for one type of egg could be useless for another.
Next you need to consider how many eggs you will be hatching. If you just keep a few hens, then maybe any incubator is fine for you at first. But if you plan on keeping your chicken coop full, you may want a larger incubator. And if you’re thinking of this as a full commercial operation, consider several incubators, or even industrial options.
Choose something as automated as possible. The main problem with hatching in a home rig is all the handling. A little turn is great for eggs, but being lifted and messed with can stress the chicks. Choose something that automatically turns and adjusts temperature. With a water reservoir if at all possible. If you can leave the machine to do everything but candling, you will get good results.
Look for peace of mind. Hatching eggs can be stressful, and the rarer your hens, or the more your income depends on them, the more stressful it is. Get an incubator that alleviates some of that stress. An incubator with a full display is essential. But also make sure it comes with a good temperature alarm, and a safe base for your chicks. Try and think of everything to make sure your eggs and chicks are safe.
If you find your hatch rate isn’t good enough, know when to move on. Sometimes an incubator that seemed like a great idea just doesn’t work out and an expensive one is a dud. Sometimes one that worked for some eggs doesn’t work for others. But what’s a worse mistake than getting the wrong incubator? Keeping using the wrong incubator! Get something else and move on.
My Favourite Egg Incubator
Out of the ones we looked at today, I would like to leave you with my distinct favourite. Can you guess which it is? It’s the Brinsea Products Maxi II Advance Automatic 14 Egg Incubator! Yes, it’s expensive. And yes, it only holds fourteen eggs. But the hatch rates really do speak for themselves. The turning is perfect, the temperature is always spot on, and humidity has never been a problem for us. Not to mention the great peace of mind that comes with the large window and the displays.