Cheap egg incubators are a great way to get into hatching your own poultry at home; however, they can also be a total waste of money! This article will outline why you can waste your time and money buying a cheap incubator online and what you can do to limit the chances of that happening.
Firstly, most backyard poultry keepers do not need an expensive egg incubator to successfully hatch out their own chickens, ducks, quail, or other poultry. Most people only need to hatch out a relatively small number of birds each year (or two) to sustain their backyard flock. So, a large or expensive egg incubator is simply not warranted and is a complete waste of money (both in purchase price and running costs) if you're only using it for a few birds once or twice a year.
Even someone like me who uses backyard poultry for meat doesn't need a big expensive incubator (although if money wasn't an option) an expensive branded model would be quite nice – I do admit that…
The good news is, there are many good cheaper egg incubators out there especially online at stores such as eBay and Amazon, that are perfectly capable of handling smaller batches of eggs. However, and here's the kicker, most (if not all) of the cheaper egg incubators on the market are fickle Chinese knock offs that are prone to breakdown unless you take some precautionary action to protect them from failure.
Most commonly, it's the thermostat and heating element in these cheaper egg incubator units that either blows or slowly loses output/heating capability. People often find they have to keep jacking the set temperature upwards just to maintain normal operating conditions and then eventually the units either become too unstable and can no longer be relied on to maintain a steady incubating temperature or they fail completely.
And, anyone who has any experience in raising their own poultry knows how important a constant and steady temperature is when it comes to incubating eggs!
So then, how do you help prevent a cheaper model of incubator from failing? The easiest and best way is to add some extra insulation to the unit so that the heating element and motor doesn't have to work as hard to maintain a constant temperature.
You can insulate a cheap incubator in many different ways, some examples are; pack a blanket or pillows around it, or the the way I like to do it is by using a simple box to fit the incubator in with enough room on the inside to stuff some insulation around it. Some people get more elaborate and build a specific box out of wood with a Perspex window to host their incubator but for most of us a humble box or Styrofoam container does the trick.
The video below explains what I mean by using extra insulation for a cheap incubator. I suppose the take home overall message is, if you want an incubaor that lasts, either buy an expensive one or get a cheap one and look after it by providing it with extra insulation.
If you are looking for a cheap incubator check out these: