Magicfly Digital Mini Fully Automatic Egg Incubator 9-12 Eggs Poultry Hatcher








HovaBator Advanced Egg Incubator Combo Kit







Eggs in Brinsea incubator






Wine cooler with eggs

Finding the Right Egg Incubation Equipment

Over the last couple of years, we’ve tried various pieces of equipment to improve our egg hatching rate. Here’s the story of what that entailed.

  1. Magicfly Digital Mini Fully Automatic Egg Incubator 9-12 Eggs Poultry Hatcher
  2. HovaBator Advanced Egg Incubator Combo Kit
  3. Brinsea Ovation 56 EX Fully Automatic Digital Egg Incubator
  4. Wine Enthusiast 6-Bottle Wine Cooler

Magicfly Digital Mini Fully Automatic Egg Incubator 9-12 Eggs Poultry Hatcher

Our Guinea Hen abandoned her nest after a predator removed all of the eggs, one-by-one, over the course of a week. Once we finally clued into what was happening, there was only one egg left. We borrowed a friend’s incubator and hatched the single Guinea Hen.

This incubator is very easy to use and we would definitely recommend it for first time hatchers. It has a no-fuss, simple set-up. Regulating the temperature is easy and it turns the eggs sufficiently.

Unfortunately, you can’t accurately control humidity. Humidity is critical at hatch time. If the egg membrane gets too dry, the hatchling could become trapped. If there’s too much humidity, the hatchling could *drown*. So you have to monitor and add or subtract water daily. This means removing and replacing the lid over and over and that’s not great for a high hatch rate.

Bottom line: It’s an economical way to get started with hatching eggs.

HovaBator Advanced Egg Incubator Combo Kit

After hatching the Guinea Hen in the borrowed incubator, we decided to invest in our own. Turns out this unit is used a lot for school hatching activities.

The incubator has an automatic turner which rolls the eggs six times per day. The eggs just sit on top of the plastic mesh floor above the water tray. The humidity is created by filling the plastic tray on the bottom. The temperature is controlled by swiveling a metal bar on the top of the unit.

The top and bottom of the unit is styrofoam which helps to maintain temperature and humidity. But you still have to monitor both. With some trial and error, it works reasonably well.

We hatched some turkeys in this unit with moderate success. This was likely due to a number of variables, including fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Now we use this unit for hatching when we have staggered hatch dates.

Bottom line: Easy to use, decent value for money.

Brinsea Ovation 56 EX Fully Automatic Digital Egg Incubator

After we hatched the Bronze turkeys, we were hooked on the hatching egg process. We wanted a reliable way to hatch our heritage breed Bresse chicken eggs. We found the Brinsea unit at Tractor Supply Co.

The unit keeps near perfect temperature and humidity levels. Before placing the eggs, I turn on the incubator and closely monitor it for a day or so until the levels are ideal. I’ve found that it only needs minimal adjustments during the hatching cycle. The water container only needs to be filled every other week. The only negative is the replacement evaporating blocks can only be ordered through Brinsea and the shipping is expensive.

This unit was pricey, but results speak for themselves. As mentioned in a previous blog, I had a nearly 100% hatch rate using the Brinsea with my Bresse/Bresse, Bresse/Sex Links trial.

These units are available in various sizes and we strongly recommend them for any hatching enthusiast.

Bottom line: Worth every penny. I love this incubator!

Wine Enthusiast 6-Bottle Wine Cooler

I needed a place to store our eggs before putting them in the incubator. Brinsea suggests they should be kept at 53-59 degrees F. I tried a cooler and an unplugged freezer, but the temperature wouldn’t stay in the range.

My sister (who drinks a lot of wine) suggested a wine fridge. This unit was reasonably inexpensive and was set-and-forget. We set the temperature at 53 degrees and it fluctuates between 53 and 55 degrees, depending on ambient room temperature. A small dish of water in the unit helps keep the humidity up near 65-70%. Problem solved!

Bottom line: This is one of my favorite pieces of equipment.

Note: I am not receiving any compensation for mentioning these units. Just passing along our experience with them.

Chickens together

Chicken coop in pig pen

Chicken roosting perch

Raising Pigs and Chickens Together


Our companion farming endeavor is a huge success! The chickens handle the poop by picking through it for any undigested grains. The rest gets scratched and scattered around the pen. The flies don’t have a chance to use the pile to create larvae. As a result, the fly population is way down. There is also low to no odor at all. Anytime there is a moist area, we toss a flake of hay to absorb it. We’re very happy with this project!

One of the many things we’ve learned about raising our own livestock is they poop — a lot. And with poop comes flies — a lot of flies. Unless you resort to chemicals, you’ll need a method to control them.

One method is high-frequency rotational grazing. The downside with this method is that you will need a very large acreage. And even with a large acreage, pigs will usually destroy much of the vegetation before they eat it. They love to root through soil.

Another method is using things like fly sprays, fly traps, etc. We don’t want to use chemical sprays or traps that use chemicals. So we use Dr. Bronner’s in a spray bottle attached to a hose to spray the flies. We love natural methods to solve natural problems, but truth be told, our natural recipe does not work as great as its chemical counterpart.

Yet another method for controlling flies is referred to as manure management. This can be accomplished through regular clearing, mounding the manure to create compost, spreading the manure, or dragging the pasture (which requires large machinery).

Joel Salatin offers a different spin on manure management. In the winter, his cows deposit manure on a “giant carbon diaper”, layered with hay and other materials. In the spring, the pigs move in, root around, and aerate the lot. For a detailed description of his Polyface Farm operation, check out this article from The Atlantic, “Inside Polyface Farm, Mecca of Sustainable Agriculture”.

We don’t have cows or a large shed or barn to employ the Polyface method. We pile hay on top of the pig manure to control flies and odor, but we wanted to do more.

Our Companion Farming Program

In the spirit of Salatin’s method, instead of cows, we considered chickens to accomplish a similar outcome. The chickens will dig through the pig manure and eat undigested grains, bugs, larvae, and other parasites. The constant scratching, overturning, and spreading will also help to aerate the pile of hay and manure. And this should expedite the drying process.

So, we constructed a hoop coop inside the pig pens to raise some of our chickens with our Berkshire pigs. Our goal is to control our manure-related smell and disease without costly fertilizer, machinery, or buildings. I read somewhere that 2-3 chickens can get plenty to eat from just one pig’s manure/hay pile!

Contact us if you’re interested in buying Berkshire breeder piglets or heritage breed chicken hatching eggs.