Well, I did it. After literally HOURS of online research I went ahead and ordered an incubator! I am so excited. We got a Christmas bonus at work at the very last minute so I didn’t use it to buy gifts for anyone else. I have been thinking a lot about chickens the last few days and making plans for the upcoming year. I had hoped we would have enough eggs to sell by now but since we had to cull our first flock for egg eating right before the heritage birds starting laying we haven’t had enough. I really didn’t want to order a bunch more heritage chicks. They are so expensive and of course are straight run so we end up butchering most of the roos. The other option is to go to the feed store in the spring and buy Rhode Island Red pullets. I do really like my heritage breeds though, so what”s a girl to do?
I guess I’m going to try to hatch my own! I won’t have anything invested in the chicks except the cost of the incubator and running it. We can have the roosters butchered for our own use since we can use them anyway. My only concern is producing good quality birds. I need to read up on the APA standards and try to develop an eye for that. I may have to order more at some point anyway to introduce “new blood” although I don’t know that new chicks wouldn’t be just as closely related. I’ve heard of other farms using the same rooster for several years without any problems. I guess we’ll see!
Pretty early on in my reading I narrowed my choices down to two options for incubators: the Brower Top Hatch…
And the Brinsea Octagon 20 ECO…
In the end I decided on the Brinsea. Everything I have read claims the company has excellent customer service, and that’s a big deal for me. The Brower had many good reviews but tends not to hold temperature as steadily. Since our house is cold and drafty I like that the Brinsea is well insulated. Both incubators are durable plastic and easy to clean.
What about cost? The Brower was around $148 before shipping and includes an automatic turning tray. The Brinsea was on sale for $99 (reg. $129) for the incubator and $49 (reg $69) for the automatic turning cradle so a total of $148 before shipping. So they were the exact same price but I feel due to the sale I’m getting a little nicer piece of equipment for the same $$$. Shipping on the Brinsea was $37 so my total was $186 and some change. I feel really confident that I’m getting something good, I hope all my reading of reviews pays off and that I’m not disappointed!
A note about the turning cradle, Brinsea’s website calls for tipping the incubator twice daily on the manual cradle. The automatic cradle turns the eggs every hour which I guess is “optimum”. I don’t think it would be hard to tip the cradle twice daily but I just want the chicks to have every possible advantage so we have good hatch rates. So my point is if you’re thinking of an incubator you could be set for $99 + shipping. Pretty sweet.
Now I just need to pick up a thermometer/hygrometer to better track the temperature and humidity. I’ll wait until closer to spring to try any hatching but it will be nice to know everything is ready. I’m looking forward to sharing my new adventure with all of you!