Last updated: August 7, 2021

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Welcome to our big incubator test 2021. Here we present all the incubators we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best incubator for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy an incubator.




Summary

  • Incubators are becoming increasingly important as severe overbreeding of hens has led to their brooding instinct becoming more and more diminished.
  • There are two basic designs of brooder: the surface brooder and the motor brooder.
  • The most important parameters in artificial brooding are the temperature, the humidity and the turning rhythm.

The Best Incubator: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an incubator

What do I need an incubator for?

An incubator is used to hatch eggs of various types. The most common use is for incubating chicken eggs. However, there are also machines that can be used to incubate other poultry eggs or reptile eggs.

The incubator is becoming more common because many hens have a very weak drive for brooding.

Severe overbreeding of hens has led to the fact that the drive for brooding is hardly present in most animals.

For this reason, the incubator is being used more and more. The so-called artificial brooding by means of an incubator also has some advantages:

  • With artificial brooding, a very high hatching rate can be achieved
  • The number of eggs to be hatched and thus the potential number of chicks to hatch can be planned in advance
  • The timing of hatching can be deliberately planned

Geflügelküken am Boden

Hatchers are being used more and more frequently to brood chicks, as hens are losing their brooding instinct due to overbreeding. With the help of an incubator, chick rearing can be made efficient. (Photo: Jason Leung / unsplash.com)

What size brooder should I buy?

As already mentioned, the number of eggs to be hatched in an artificial brooder can be individually adjusted. Thus, you can adjust the size of the incubator to your own needs.

You should consider how many eggs you want to hatch at the same time and how often you want to use the possibility of artificial incubation.

For hobby breeders who only want to hatch smaller quantities at long intervals, a small machine is perfectly adequate.

For people who like to breed continuously, it is advisable to think about an incubator with a larger capacity, with which you can increase the number of chicks.

How much does a brooder cost?

The cost of an incubator depends largely on two factors:

  • Size of the machine
  • Equipment of the incubator

Area brooders are smaller machines with a capacity of usually around 30-50 hen eggs. These machines are mainly used in hobby breeding, as they have only little technical equipment in addition to their small capacity.

They are therefore much cheaper than motorised brooders, which have a high capacity of 60-100 eggs and high-quality technical equipment.

Type Price range
Area incubators 50 - 120 €
Motorised incubators 200 - 1500 €

Can I build a hatcher myself?

If you want to save the initial costs for a hatchery machine, you can also build a hatchery yourself if you are skilled in craftsmanship and have basic knowledge about artificial brooding.

If you decide to build your own incubator, you have the possibility to develop a machine according to your ideas and requirements.

However, it is important to note that the basic parameters of temperature, humidity, oxygen supply and turning manoeuvre must be implemented.

To make sure that the incubator meets these requirements, there are many do-it-yourself instructions online that make it easy to build your own.

How long does it take to incubate the eggs?

The duration of the incubation process always depends on the type of eggs. In the case of hen's eggs, which are the most frequently incubated, the incubation usually takes around 20 days.

After the first 5-7 days, a light test can be used to check whether the eggs are developing as desired.

This is the case when small veins have developed inside the egg. If this is the case after the specified period, the eggs should be put back into the incubator as soon as possible so that the development is not disturbed. After about 20 days, the chicks will begin to hatch.

Period Status
5 - 7 days Light test
20 - 22 days Hatching of the chicks
More than 23 days Disposing of the eggs

However, these values are only guidelines and may differ slightly from the actual time frame.

Can I use the incubator only for chicken eggs?

Incubators are mostly used for hatching hen's eggs. However, it is also possible to incubate other eggs.

Some machines are already designed to incubate a wide variety of eggs. In the respective product description of the incubator, you will find the egg types for which the device can be used.

Many manufacturers also offer the possibility to buy special inserts for the incubators, especially for the large incubators, which can be used to incubate eggs of various sizes.

In addition to the inserts in different sizes, other temperatures and humidities are often required for the artificial incubation of other eggs.

Type Duration Temperature Humidity
Hen eggs 21 days 38.3°C 60 - 80 %
Duck eggs 28 days 37.5°C 55 - 80 %
Pigeon eggs 18 days 38.3°C 65 - 80 %
Quail eggs 18 days 37.6°C 50 - 65 %

Decision: What types of incubators are there and which one is right for you?

If you want to buy an incubator, there are two basic types to choose between:

  • Area hatcher
  • Motorised incubator

The different models have different advantages and disadvantages.

Depending on your requirements for the incubator and how you want to use it, a different type is recommended for you. In the following section we would like to make your decision easier.

What are the characteristics of an area incubator and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

In a surface brooder, the eggs lie next to each other. The temperature is generated by heating wires. This means that the temperature is only constant in the middle area of the appliance. However, since the eggs need even heat, they have to be turned over manually several times a day.

Advantages
  • Inexpensive
  • Space-saving
  • Easy to operate the device
Disadvantages
  • Time-consuming
  • Lower hatching rate
  • Great prior knowledge of artificial brooding required

Another difficulty is the oxygen content. Since the air in a surface brooder is not circulated, there is a layer of low oxygen around the eggs, which may not be sufficient for the chicks in the last days of brooding.

Since the parameters have to be ensured manually, the operation of the device itself is very uncomplicated, but a great deal of prior knowledge about artificial brooding is necessary, which has to be implemented at great expense.

Surface brooders can be purchased very cheaply and are usually space-saving, as they are designed for relatively small quantities.

Due to the uneven temperature and especially the insufficient oxygen, one has to expect a lower hatching rate with these devices.

What distinguishes a motorised incubator and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A motorised incubator is considerably more expensive to buy, but it also has more functions.

In motorised incubators, the air is evenly distributed by a fan, which keeps the temperature and oxygen distribution constant throughout the device.

There is also no need to turn the eggs, as they lie on hordes that move forward or backward at regular intervals.

Advantages
  • (Fully) automatic
  • High hatching rate
  • High capacity
  • Extensive accessories
Disadvantages
  • Expensive:Bulky
  • More complicated installation

As motorised incubators are available in very large designs, they have a much higher capacity, which can also be extended to different types of eggs through extensive accessories.

The installation of motorised incubators can be somewhat more difficult, but the engineered incubators also achieve an almost one hundred percent hatching rate.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate incubators

In the following we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the different incubators.

The criteria you can use to compare the incubators with each other include:

  • Capacity
  • Type of eggs
  • Temperature control
  • Humidity control
  • Turning rhythm

Capacity

Before you buy an incubator, you should be clear about what you want to use it for.

Incubators come in a wide range of sizes. Generally speaking, the larger the incubator, the more expensive it is.

However, with large incubators you can naturally achieve faster breeding, as you can hatch many eggs at the same time. Therefore, you should adjust the capacity of the incubator to the number of eggs you would like to hatch.

If you only want to use the incubator irregularly, it can also be useful to buy a machine with a lower capacity, which you can then simply use several times in a row.

Zwei Nester, Stilleben

Incubators allow you to incubate a variety of eggs. However, when buying one, you should make sure that the incubator is compatible with the type of egg you want to hatch. (Photo: Kate Remmer / unsplash.com)

Type of eggs

Furthermore, you should consider which eggs you would like to hatch.

Do you want to incubate other types of eggs besides chicken eggs, such as wax eggs? Or would you like to use the incubator exclusively for other eggs, perhaps even reptile eggs?

Then you should pay attention to which eggs the incubator is suitable for. Many machines are multifunctional, but there are also incubators that are only suitable for one species, or for which you need additional accessories to be able to hatch other eggs.

Temperature control

As already explained in the decision section, the temperature control of the incubators is of great importance. It is important to ensure that the temperature is kept constant and evenly distributed throughout the machine.

This is especially the case with motor incubators, where the air is distributed by means of a fan. But there are also considerable differences in the area incubators, about which one should inform oneself in detail in advance.

Humidity control

Besides temperature control, humidity is an important parameter in artificial brooding. For successful brooding, this should always be maintained.

For this purpose, there are many incubators that have a digital display on which you can read the humidity. This makes it easy to check the humidity in the machine and adjust it if necessary.

Turning rhythm

Since the eggs have to be turned at regular intervals - even at night - it is advisable to use an automatic turning function if you do not have the time or the energy to do this manually.

This has the additional advantage that the machine does not have to be opened to turn the eggs and the temperature remains stable.

Kleine Herde Küken

Since the chicks in an artificial brood lack the natural warmth of their mother after hatching, you should provide them with a heat source, such as a hot plate. (Photo: Roksolana Zasiadko / unsplash.com)

Facts worth knowing about incubators

Rearing after hatching

Once the artificial brooding has been successful and the chicks have hatched, the most important thing is to provide them with a source of warmth.

Since the chicks do not have a mother to warm them, they must be provided with a source of warmth in some other way. Warming plates that also protect the chicks from draughts are particularly suitable for this.

This can be used to lower the temperature from around 32°C until the chicks are able to cope with the room temperature at around six weeks of age.

Feeding does not differ from that in a natural brood, as the chicks are born to peck.

Picture source: Pixabay / pexels.com

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