9 Best Classroom Incubators for the Magic of Hatching Chicks

Today, I’m going to show you something truly amazing. True, hatching chicks isn’t particularly amazing in itself, but when you see those tiny balls of fluff peep out at you, the feeling is definitely amazing.

best-incubators

In my constant search for fun and interesting projects for my class, I came across a video, in which a teacher takes you step by step through the chick-hatching process in a classroom setting. It was the first time for her and she was a bit nervous at first, but gradually gained confidence. I hope after reading this blog as well as seeing some of the videos and other articles I link to, you will have confidence right from the start because you will have a good idea of what to expect.

I felt just as excited as the teacher when the eggs began to crack and couldn’t wait to have the first-hand experience. Since then, I have hatched chicks in my classroom twice and it never fails to amaze me and enthrall my students. With the research and experience behind me, I’m ready to give you the benefit, so you and your students can experience this awesome process.

What You Need for a Chick-Hatching Project

Here is everything you need to buy for your chick hatching activities.

Eggs

You need to purchase fertile eggs for hatching in an incubator. You may choose from several different types of chickens. Some possibilities are Cochin Eggs, Rhode Island Eggs, Leghorn Eggs and Bantam Chicken Eggs among many others. If you live near a farm where you can get fertile eggs so much the better. The eggs need to be put in the chick incubator seven to 10 days after being laid. The places that sell eggs for incubation will make sure you get them in time.

Incubator

The incubator is the box that protects the eggs and keeps them the right temperature, so they can develop into chickens and hatch. There is a wide variety of chicken egg incubators, and we will look at nine of the best later.

A mother hen fusses over her eggs and constantly rotates them throughout the day. You can also do this if you what to make the effort, but it is considerable. Most incubators will rotate the eggs automatically, so you don’t need to fuss like a mother hen.

My Top Pick

HovaBator Deluxe 

Goodies I found:

  • Built-in egg candler
  • Cordless design with batteries
  • Stores the high and low thermometer readings

Final verdict: This is a top of the line egg incubator with all the available features. It is great if you are teaching older children who are keeping records of temperature, humidity, etc.

Check price →

 

Also Great

Brinsea Products Mini II 

Goodies I found:

  • Great visibility for viewing
  • Automatic egg turning
  • The menu on a digital display

Final verdict: This is a good incubator for classroom use if you don’t want to hatch too many chicks, but want your students to get the thrill of seeing the process of an egg to live chick.

Check price →

Best incubators for classroom use:

  1. HatchMate Egg Incubator by Backyard Farm →
  2. Magicfly Digital Mini Egg Incubator →
  3. Brinsea Products Mini II Advance Incubator →
  4. HBlife 9-12 Digital Incubator for Chicken Eggs →
  5. Brinsea Products Manual Egg Incubator →
  6. HovaBator Genesis 1588 Incubator Combo Kit →
  7. HovaBator Deluxe Egg Incubator Combo Kit →
  8. HovaBator Genesis 1588 Incubator & Brooder Combo Kit →
  9. R-Com MX-20 Automatic Digital Auto-Turning Egg Incubator →

1. HatchMate Egg Incubator by Backyard Farm →

Egg Incubator by Backyard Farm

This egg incubator is suitable for hatching all kinds of eggs including quail and cockatiel. You can adjust the thermostat directly from the LED display and the separators can be adjusted for different size eggs. It is very durable.

Specifications: Holds 9 chicken eggs, dimensions – 13 x 9 x 7 inches, weight – 3.5 pounds

Goodies I found:

  • Automatic egg turning to reduce human touching
  • Instruction books explain every step clearly
  • Fan for effective warm air circulation

Final verdict: This incubator is easy to set up and a good option for schools. It does not come with a hygrometer to measure humidity, which is important.

2. Magicfly Digital Mini Egg Incubator →

Magicfly Digital Mini Fully Automatic Egg Incubator

This is a fully automatic chicken egg incubator made of non-toxic PP+ABS material. You cannot see the eggs being turned and the temperature control is automatic. The dividers are adjustable for different size eggs.

Specifications: Incubates 9 to 12 chicken eggs, dimensions -14 x 7.5 x 7 inches, weight – 4.8 pounds

Goodies I found:

  • Automatic thermometer set at 38 degrees Celsius for chicken eggs
  • Humidity alarm
  • Automatic egg turner
  • LED display

Final verdict: This incubator makes hatching chicks easy because you don’t do much except put the proper eggs inside, add some water for humidity and turn it on. You can calibrate the temperature if you want and should check it every two days to make sure there is enough water.

3. Brinsea Products Mini II Advance Incubator →

Brinsea Products Mini II Advance Incubator

This is a high-quality egg incubator that has a countdown feature and provides periodic cooling with temperature alarms, so you can keep track of the status.

Specifications: Holds 7 chicken eggs, dimensions – 12.5 x 12.5 x 7 inches, weight – 3 pounds

Goodies I found:

  • Great visibility for viewing
  • Automatic egg turning that stops two days before hatching
  • The menu on a digital display to manage incubator functions

Final verdict: This is a good incubator for classroom use if you don’t want to hatch too many chicks, but want your students to get the thrill of seeing the process of an egg to live chick. It only holds seven chicken eggs and has a clear top, so you can watch without opening it.

4. HBlife 9-12 Digital Incubator for Chicken Eggs →

HBlife 9-12 Digital Fully Automatic Incubator for Chicken Eggs

This incubator has durable construction of PC+ABS material. It is quite small and is easy to use. Temperature display in Celsius.

Specifications: Incubates 9 chicken eggs, dimensions – 13.98 x 7.48 x 6.89 inches, weight – 4.76 pounds

Goodies I found:

  • Automatic turning
  • Automatic thermostat setting
  • Small size

Final verdict: This chicken egg incubator is another good option for schools. It has automatic settings, but is considered hard to keep clean. It is easy to use and has good temperature stability.

5. Brinsea Products Manual Egg Incubator →

Brinsea Products Manual Egg Incubator

This item is made with hygienic ABS plastic and easy to clean. It has a fan for air circulation. The indicator tells the temperature of the liquid in the glass.

Specifications: Holds 24 chicken eggs, dimensions – 13 x 9.5 x 10 inches, weight – 10 pounds

Goodies I found:

  • The top is clear for good visibility without opening
  • The eggs can be manually or automatically turned
  • Has an alarm system so you can maintain the correct schedule

Final verdict: You may need one this big if you are going to do a chick-hatching project with several classes. It’s a good one for children, but 24 is a lot of chicks, so make sure you have homes for them as they grow quickly.

6. HovaBator Genesis 1588 Incubator Combo Kit →

HovaBator Genesis 1588 Advanced Egg Incubator Combo Kit

This is an egg incubator with forced air circulation and a digital monitor to watch the temperature and humidity. It has a plastic mesh floor and is made of durable Styrofoam for excellent insulation.

Specifications: Holds 42 chicken eggs, dimensions – 19.2 x 19.2 x 5.6 inches, weight – 5.65 pounds

Goodies I found:

  • Rolls the eggs six times a day
  • Egg tray suitable for different types of eggs
  • 12V DC power system and compatible with 110V and 220V

Final verdict: This incubator does it all, but it is a bit too big for an ordinary classroom. If you have older children, you may consider other eggs such as goose, duck and quail.

7. HovaBator Deluxe Egg Incubator Combo Kit →

HovaBator Deluxe Egg Incubator Combo Kit

This incubator has an air circulator, thermostat, two viewing windows and humidity control. The egg tray is adjustable and it has a plastic mesh floor. The egg candler is calibrated not to overheat while you are examining the eggs.

Specifications: Holds 42 chicken eggs, dimensions – 18 x 18 x 10 inches, weight – 5.45 pounds

Goodies I found:

  • Built-in egg candler to see how the chick is progressing
  • Cordless design with batteries included
  • Stores the high and low thermometer readings

Final verdict: This is a top of the line egg incubator with all the available features. You may or may not need such a high-tech device for a school. If you are teaching older children who are keeping records of temperature, humidity, etc., this is a good chick hatching kit to have.

8. HovaBator Genesis 1588 Incubator & Brooder Combo Kit →

HovaBator Genesis 1588 Ultimate Egg Incubator & Brooder Combo Kit

This product is made of durable Styrofoam for good insulation and a 12 x 12-inch viewing window. It has an air circulator, humidity control, a digital screen to read the temperature and humidity and push-button thermostat control.

Specifications: Holds 42 chicken eggs, dimensions – the brooder is a 30.5-inch pen with 12-inch tall walls, weight – 15 pounds

Goodies I found:

  • Includes the feeder and waterer
  • Rolls the eggs six times a day
  • Comes with chick feed and reflective waterer stones to prevent the tiny chicks from drowning in their drinking water

Final verdict: This chick hatching kit has everything you need to hatch eggs and take care of the chicks in the classroom. It is a good deal because you will also need a brooder when the chicks hatch. More about that later.

9. R-Com MX-20 Automatic Digital Auto-Turning Egg Incubator →

R-Com MX-20 Automatic Digital Auto-Turning Egg Incubator

This egg incubator fits for hatching chicks and has an adjustable tray for other size eggs. It is built for the US market with an American electrical connection 110V. The turning, temperature and humidity control are fully automatic.

Specifications: Holds 20 chicken eggs, dimensions – 16 x 6 inches, weight – 10 pounds

Goodies I found:

  • You can set a timer for egg turning intervals
  • You can set for hatching and forget it but need to check the water level for humidity
  • Easy to clean

Final verdict: This incubator gets very good reviews and is smaller than some of the others. It’s good for classroom use if you need to hatch more than seven or 10 eggs.

Brooder box

A brooder box is a small pen where the baby chicks live for a few weeks just after hatching. It has a feeder and waterer as well as a heat lamp and flooring, which is often wood shavings. You may change the flooring every three days for a week but as the chicks get larger you may need to change it every day or every other day.

My pick →

Brooder box

This is a simple brooder box with just the necessities. It has a strong wooden construction with an adjustable light bar for heat. Some people like that it has no bottom and some don’t. You can set it on cardboard or plywood with newspaper and just slowly pull it out to throw away while you slide a new sheet with wood chips under the box. The lamp is not included.

Goodies I found:

  • Easy to assemble, stores flat
  • Comfortably holds 13 – 14 four-week-old Bantam chicks. Larger chicks may need a large brooder by four weeks
  • No bottom for easy cleaning

Chick feeder and waterer kit

As you know by now, the chicks need to be warm and protected for a few weeks after hatching. A brooder box with a heat lamp is the answer. The chicks need to be fed, but it’s not a simple as feeding fully-grown chickens. The special seed and water need to be in containers that make it easy for tiny chicks to access.

My pick →

Chick feeder and waterer kit

This chick feeder and waterer kit is suitable for 12 or fewer chicks. It is recommended to keep them far apart so the chicks don’t splash water and get the food wet.

 

 

Goodies I found:

  • They are stable and the chicks can’t tip them over
  • Easy to clean

Brooder for staying warm

The mother hen will keep her chicks warm with her body heat. She may only have five or six chicks and can easily fit them under her wings for a week or two. For hatching in an incubator, a brooder is necessary for keeping the chicks the right temperature until they are big enough to be in normal air temperature.

My pick →

Brinsea Ecoglow 20 Safety 600 Brooder for Chicks Or Ducklings

This brooder is suitable for 20 chicks or ducklings. It has an adjustable roof and only uses 12 watts of power. It is designed to retain heat. The power lead is 10-feet long. The product is manufactured from antimicrobial plastic. It is for indoor use only.

The heat is radiant heat, which means it only warms the chicks and not the air. If the chicks start to huddle together, it means they are getting cold and you should check the heat. You can place it on one-inch Styrofoam to reduce heat loss from the floor.

How to Incubate Chicken Eggs in the Classroom

Now you are ready to incubate chicken eggs. I’ll make it so easy for you some of your students could do it.

  • Once you have set up the incubator, set the temperature at about 100.5 degrees but never below 99 degrees and never above 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, set the relative humidity to 50 – 55 percent for the first 17 days and at 70 percent for days 18 – 21.
  • First day set the eggs – always set at least six eggs for best results. Fewer than that may result in one or no hatchlings. Plus, they need each other to be happy as they are flock animals.
  • First, to 18th day – the eggs need to be turned several times a day. This prevents the yoke from trapping the chick from sticking to the inside of the shell. Three turns are the minimum, but as you have seen, some incubators automatically turn the eggs up to six times a day. If you are turning the eggs by hand, you need to mark the egg so you can keep track of its position every time you turn it. Always mark with a pencil and not a pen. Also, always wear clean gloves when you touch the eggs to prevent the transfer of germs to the embryo.
  • 7 – 10 days – candling is the way you can tell the position of the embryo and if there is life inside. Candling is shining a light through the egg. You can use a normal flashlight but some incubators come with candlers and you can buy special candling lights. Keep the eggs outside the incubator as short a time as possible, maybe less than 10 minutes. You shouldn’t candle all the eggs at the same time. Do a few at a time. If you find an egg is that is cracked or leaking, remove it so it doesn’t contaminate the incubator.
  • 18 – 21 days – The chick will be developed and preparing to hatch. Stop the egg-turning on the 18th day and put the large end of the egg up. Keep the temperature and humidity at 100.5 degrees and 70 percent respectively.
  • 21st day – right on cue the baby chicks will start to break their shells. If by chance they don’t, don’t panic. Just give them a few more days. The chick will hatch on its own. You shouldn’t try to help it. You could damage or kill the chick. It may take up to 24 hours to hatch, but the average is five to seven hours.
  • Once one chick hatches and starts to peep, the other chicks will be encouraged to break their shell. Wait until they are dry and fluffy before moving them to the brooder.

Check out this video to get more insights on how to hatch chicken eggs:

and consider buying this guide for the best results.

Frequently Asked Questions for Hatching in the Classroom

Q – What to do with the hatched chickens?

A – Before you begin an egg-hatching project in your classroom, you should have a plan for giving away the chicks. It is not recommended to give them to your students for pets even though they may beg for it and say their parents agree. If you are not going to brood the chicks, you need to make sure you give them to someone who can brood them. Sometimes local farmers or the agriculture department of a local university will supply eggs and take chicks.

Q – Is there any risk of catching an infection from the chicks?

A – The chicks do have Salmonella or E. coli bacteria, but it is rarely transferred to humans. You can eliminate the risk but teaching your children proper hygiene after touching the eggs, chicks or cleaning the brood box. Wearing clean gloves is also a must.

Q – How long does it take for one hatching project?

A – You should plan for at least 25 days for the project and make sure you can devote the time and attention needed during those days. For example, it’s not wise to start before a holiday or vacation because even the fully automatic incubators need watching. It is recommended to start planning about two months in advance of the first day.

Final Thoughts

There is no question that hatching chicks in a classroom is a magical experience for everyone. It may seem complicated at first, but if you follow the above steps and get a good incubator, there is a very good chance it will be a big success.

Last Updated on June 25, 2021 by Emily

Emily/ author of the article

Emily is an active mother of two and a dedicated elementary school teacher. She believes the latest technology has made a huge impact on the quality of early learning and has worked hard to upgrade her classroom and her own children’s learning experience through technology.
She created this blog to make it easier for other teachers to take advantage of some of the best devices out there to upgrade their classrooms without having to do the research themselves. She loves to hear your tech-based problems and share her extensive experience :)

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Comments: 4
  1. Marilyn

    Dear Emily,
    Thank you for all the work you do. It has not only helped me select technology for my classroom, but it has also given me many new ideas of things I would never have thought of myself. The one on my mind now is egg hatching. I teach in an urban school and my students have little or no touch with nature. Taking care of eggs for three weeks seems a bit resource-intensive and needs a lot of forethought, but the results appear to be well worth the effort. My problem is whether to choose an incubator that automatically rotates the eggs or one that requires manual rotation. I am a sixth-grade teacher and my students are old enough to understand the necessity of rotation and take responsibility, but I’m not sure I want to put that burden on them. Have you used both types of incubators and had experience with giving your students the responsibility of the mother hen, so the majority of eggs will hatch? I would appreciate any advice on the subject.

    1. Emily (author)

      Glad to hear my efforts and research have helped you. I believe when teachers share, children get a better education. About incubators. I have only used the kind that automatically turns the eggs because my students are too young to take that responsibility. Having said that I do recommend incubators that do not automatically turn eggs because it gives the students much more commitment to the endeavor. In your situation, which I’m guessing in a big city it may be more interesting for the students to take complete responsibility for the eggs. It’s a lot of work, but if they share it, no one should feel burdened. Be sure to do your research and make sure the students understand that rotating the eggs should stop two days before the day they should hatch. Hope this helps. Good luck!

  2. Claire Heyes

    Hi ,

    I wondered if you came across anyone who either : Hired out incubators or Rent out eggs and incubators for private domestic settings?

    1. Emily (author)

      Wow! That sounds pretty interesting, but no, I haven’t come across anyone who has rented out egg incubators. I’m interested in finding out more about this though. Have you had any experiences with it?

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