We splurged a little last month and got ourselves a brand spanking new incubator! The first round of eggs have hatched so it’s time for me to assess how it went!
We had a very old incubator that my uncle gave us, and another one that we built ourselves. Unfortunately it was really hard for us to keep the humidity high enough, especially in the last 3 days. So we decided to go for a more advanced model since we want to breed Brahma chickens. We ended up buying the Rcom Max 20(*).
The Rcom Max 20 incubator is a fully automatic incubator, which basically means it does all the work for you. It automatically controls temperature, humidity and egg turning. At the beginning of the brooding process you set the temperature and humidity and the incubator makes sure it stays constant. The Rcom Max 20 is suitable for 20 normal sized chicken eggs, but can be used to incubate different types of eggs, from quail to goose, of course the larger the egg the fewer eggs you can put in it. According to the manual it holds up to 52 quail eggs or 10 goose eggs.
- Automatic turning (off, every 1 hour, every 2 hours, every 3 hours).
- Automatic temperature control (20 – 42 degrees Celsius).
- Automatic humidity control (20 – 70%).
- Temperature can be displayed in Celsius or Fahrenheit.
- Alarm by empty water compartment or sudden fluctuation in temperature.
- Double glazed window cover, so you can see the eggs but influences from outside are minimized.
- Power outage notification.
- Universal egg tray for various sized eggs (specific egg trays are sold separately).
- Easy to take apart and clean.
- Waterhole on the outside, so no need to open incubator.
Setting up the incubator was very easy, we plugged it in and right away it was doing its thing. It came with great instructions and a booklet with practical tips on incubation. We adjusted the temperature and humidity and let it sit for at least 4 hours to reach a stable temperature and humidity, it already reached this after an hour though. We filled the water reservoir, and I was surprised at how much water went in there, so unless the humidity in the incubator room is really low, the water does not have to be filled very often. In the picture below you see the two water resevoirs in the front.
I just topped it off every 3 days to be sure, because our incubator room is not very close to where we are in the house and I might not hear the alarm in time when it was actually empty. The water is so easy to fill, there is no need to open the incubator, and thereby you avoid sudden drops in temperature and humidity. There is a little Styrofoam ball inside the waterhole that shows you how full it is, that way you never overfill it and make a big wet mess.
We picked up 20 (chicken) eggs, however, with the standard dividers we could only fit 18 eggs in there. Of course this depends on the size of your eggs, ours were Brahma eggs, not extremely big, but Bantam eggs tend to be a bit smaller so I think you could fit more in there.
The way the dividers are set up we could put 3 eggs in each column, and we could make 6 columns, keeping in mind the eggs still need a little room to turn. As you can see in the picture above, the turning caused the eggs to move a little, I wonder if we gave them too much room to turn. I did see that they sell special egg trays(*), in which the eggs are not lined up under each other and then one could fit 20 (chicken)eggs in.
So, now on to the exciting part: the actual hatching! We candled the eggs after 7 days of incubation, and unfortunately only 10 had developed. So we had to take the other 8 out of the incubator. I assume the 8 eggs were not fertilized and therefore did not develop. Me and my husband candled the eggs together because we did not want to leave the lid off for long periods of time. However, the temperature and humidity recovered quickly.
On day 18 we increased the humidity to 65%. This was easily done by adjusting the settings on the front, and the incubator reached the higher humidity quite easily. This is something we have had trouble with in the past with other incubators, we just couldn’t get a stable high enough humidity. We also took the dividers out and turned off the turning function. I must say this incubator is very low maintenance, it did everything for us, all we had to do is push a few buttons and make sure the water reservoir was filled.
On day 20 we saw the first sign of life!
Nine out of the ten eggs left ended up hatching within 24 hours of each other, we left the chicks in the incubator until they had completely dried off.
I was a little worried that the surface might be too smooth and they would slip and wouldn’t be able to stand up, but the surface is a little slatted and it ended up being fine.
Cleaning the Incubator
After we took all the chicks out we turned the incubator off and took it apart for cleaning. I was amazed at how easy it came apart, there is one latch in the front and two in the back and that’s it! And you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to put it back together!
All the electronics are in the top (white part) of the incubator, so you can clean and disinfect the bottom easily with water and detergent. The bottom was filled with pieces of egg shell and dusty hairs, you can also take out the turning plate and clean it easily. The top wasn’t dirty at all, so I wiped it down and left it to air dry (you want to make sure to do that because of the humidifier in the top). All in all the taking apart and cleaning process took me less than 30 minutes!
I would say that all in all we are very satisfied with this purchase. The whole incubation process was very low maintenance, perfect for somebody who does not have the time to hassle with regulating temperature and humidity by themselves. You are not as involved in the incubation process as you would be if you did not have an automatic incubator, you don’t have to turn the eggs or check on them all the time. But I know myself and know I might forget to turn the eggs or get frustrated when I can’t get the settings right.
So if you are looking for an incubator that does all the work for you, the Rcom Max20(*) is the incubator to buy. If 20 eggs is not enough, there is also the Rcom Max50 which can hold 50 chicken eggs.