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Choosing An Incubator

Buying A Small Incubator

Incubators come in many sizes from 3 eggs to over 100,000 eggs. While Mac Eoin General Merchants Ltd do sell large commercial incubators the main market is smaller incubators up to 500 eggs. These guidelines on buying a small incubator are only covering up to 500 eggs, for commercial incubator setters and hatchers please contact us for assistance.

Incubator Design & Construction.

Most small egg incubators these days are manufactured from plastic which is injection moulded. This is an affordable and reliable method of manufacturing a good solid incubator which is easily cleaned and has no rough edges or corners to harbour bacteria & dirt.

Older incubators were made from timber & polystyrene which did the job but they were hard to clean and sanitise properly. Incubator hygeine is paramount. Incubators should be cleaned with F10 or another approved hatchery incubator detergent like Brinsea Egg Dip & Incubator Detergent.

Cabinet machines for upwards of 200 eggs are usually of a laminated timber structure for strength. Aero board incubators are not popular anymore, as plastic incubators are now as cheap as them and are much easier to keep clean and are considerably stronger. Most incubators made today have a fan for circulating the air. This is essential in larger machines to ensure an even temperature distribution over the eggs. There is a myth that eggs hatch better in still air machines, this is just a myth. What is absolutely essential is that the room where the incubator is going to be sited is clean, draught free and between 18 – 23 degrees centigrade.

Incubator Placement

Small incubators are only designed to bring room temperature up to incubation temperature. They will struggle to come up to temperature in an out house. Also a shed with a tin roof is unsuitable in summer as it will be too hot & the incubator thermostat will not be able to cope with the temperature swing. Eggs must be turned at least twice a day but preferably 3 – 5 times daily. Never in the same direction as this causes the yolk to float to the side of the egg which is uppermost. If turning eggs manually mark the with an O on one side and an X on the other. Move the eggs gently over and back with your hand without jarring the eggs. Ensure that your hands are clean. If you are not going to be around to turn the eggs then you must get an automatic turning model. Incorrect turning produces poor results and malformed chicks.

You must also feed a breeders ration to your laying stock. Layers ration is no good as it does not contain all the necessary requirements to hatch a good chick. Eggs from birds fed on layers ration do not usually carry full term but chicks die in the shell in the last few days as they are lacking vitamins. Buy an incubator which has a proper heating element, some models like the Covatutto & the Brower models have a light bulb for a heater which with our unstable voltage are prone to blowing, also if they get splashed with water they will blow. Buy your incubator from a company who specialises in incubators and who looks after the warranties. You do not want to be sending an incubator back to England or Italy in the event of a breakdown. You also need a good back up service for spare parts and where repairs can be carried out.
Cheap incubators usually have very expensive parts when they do need replacing, so it may be better paying a little more for your machine. Shop around and buy from somebody who gives you a choice and is not trying to sell you one particular model or make. Buy from somebody who has experience in hatching and can give you advice when you need it. Too many people these days just want a sale and have no back up at all on their products.

Some incubators will require special racks for other eggs. These I have noted. Avoid incubators with elements & fans in the base as these are hard to clean and droppings from the chicks shorten the life of the heating elements. Humidity is critical in incubators, too much or too little water can cause poor hatches. We will look at humidity and hatching problems in an other issue but if in doubt err on the dry side. Most hatches are ruined by too much water. Buy an egg candler to check the air space, this is an essential piece if equipment which is cheap and easy to use.

For our full range of incubation products & accessories then check our Egg Incubators category or contact us for any enquiries