Having the best egg incubator allows you to not just hatch a large number of eggs but also control and prepare for each bunch of hatchlings. There are great incubators for hatching any type of eggs including quail, chicken, ducks and even reptiles but incubators are not cheap which is why you can’t afford to invest in something that will not work for you. While the capacity often determines the amount of money you will pay for your incubator, you have to be sure that that construction and the specifics will accommodate the eggs you have and help your chicks come out easily. Hatching is a serious and sometimes messy business which is why you should look out for these 10 things before you invest in an incubator.
You should remember that your incubator will give you the best hatch rate when you use it at full capacity and that is why you need to buy one that will carry all your eggs and don’t underuse it. Getting one that is too small may also start giving you ideas for overloading when you don’t want your eggs to lose hatchability because the hatchability reduces significantly if the eggs stay over 10 days before being incubated. You have to remember that the more you pay for your incubator, the better features you get and those big cabinet incubators have the best controls as well as egg turners and they may also come with a candling light and a hatching chamber. If you don’t have over 100 chicken eggs to hatch, you can get a high-quality table-top incubator. For 12 to 20 chicken eggs or up to 50 quail eggs, you can get a great mini incubator and get the job done.
Eggs breathe just like human beings and while the embryos grow, carbon dioxide and oxygen are exchanged across the shells which is why proper ventilation is necessary for your eggs to hatch effectively. That is why forced-air incubators that have fans tend to hatch more incubators than still air incubators which only rely on a few holes often at the top of the hatching chamber. You can still buy a still air incubator if that is what your budget allows but make sure you follow the manufacturer’s directions for proper ventilation.
Accuracy Of Controls
This is the most important thing when hatching any type of egg. When it comes to humidity, you need to be able to add water or humidity pads without interfering with the incubation. Your alarm system should also be able to tell you when the humidity hasn’t stabilized. The temperature is the most important feature though because as little as 1/4degree change could cause your eggs to fail. Computerized controls are always better than wafer-controlled thermostats which can easily fluctuate. You should also have your own thermometer/hygrometer to double-check the conditions and ensure that what you read on your control screen is accurate.
Power Retention And Backup
There are many things you can control during the incubation period for your eggs but blackouts are not one of them. You need to go ahead with your electricity provider and get an incubator that can maintain optimal hatching conditions for as long as possible in case of a power blackout. That is why premium forced-air incubators will help you a lot. When hatching super sensitive eggs such as reptiles, you need to have backup power because they can’t afford prolonged fluctuations in temperatures inside the incubator. The option of connecting to a DC power source, solar power or switching to alkaline batteries is always a welcome addition.
Hatching doesn’t happen at once, some eggs may hatch up to 72 hours after your first hatchlings come out. That means you will need to remove your egg racks and turn your incubator into a hatching chamber unless you got a great cabinet incubator that has a hatching chamber at the bottom. The availability of room to convert the incubator into your hatching chamber will prove to be vital in the final days of incubation.
This is the one feature that will determine how frequently you will be forced to check on your eggs in one day. Many incubators come with an automatic turner that can turn your eggs up to eight times a day. The allowance for you to customize the frequency of turning is great. You also need to check whether all your eggs are actually turning before you leave the job to the turner. Having to turn eggs manually can be a daunting job and it may interfere with their incubation.
As the cost of incubators goes up, more people are looking for the ones that will last longer and give them value for every penny they spend. There are some incubators out there that are made out of nothing but boxes and Styrofoam. While they are cheap and will get the job done in a short time, they tear at the slightest aggression and you may end up having to patch it with tape to hatch your eggs. You should always go for a solid build when buying your incubator and ensure that the interior features including egg holders, thermostat and screen are of good quality.
Ease Of Setting Up And Operating
There is no use in buying an egg incubator that you have to pay a technician to set it up for you. Chances are you will have a hard time operating it and that may give you many losses. Having to set up thermostats, remove the base and add water in different chambers and set up a light and thermometer on the farthest end are all hustles you don’t want around your eggs. Your incubator should be straightforward and easy to set up and operate.
Additional Features Offered
Many egg incubators don’t come with trays nowadays so you can buy your own trays depending on the eggs you intend to hatch. This is an extra cost if you are just hatching regular chicken or duck eggs. You should also look for additions such as a candler, a thermometer and a hygrometer because you will need them especially if you don’t have inbuild models.
Cleaning And Maintenance
Forget those beautiful egg and chick pictures you see online, egg hatching is a messy business and your trays and the incubator will need proper cleaning before you hatch another set of eggs in it. Sometimes, just dusting won’t work. You have to remove the trays and clean it properly and that can be difficult if you have Styrofoam for an incubator.