We decided to increase our
chances of success for our second round of incubation by upgrading to a
Brinsea Octagon 20 Advance Incubator. I don’t really blame our hatching
problems on the Brinsea
Mini Advance Incubator,
but I do think that the larger model makes sense for our more difficult
incubation environment. Here are the features that sold me on
- Larger capacity — After
talking to several folks and reading lots of accounts online, I’m
coming to realize that beginning chick-keepers should expect to hatch
only a small percentage of the eggs they place in their
incubator. While we can work on improving our hatch rate, it also
makes sense to hedge our bets by starting off with more eggs. The
Octagon 20 holds 24 hen eggs (fewer if you’re hatching all jumbo-sized
eggs), which I hope will give us at least seven living chicks.
- Humidity readout and vent
— In addition to tracking the temperature, the Octagon 20 gives a
digital readout of the current humidity in the incubator. There’s
also a vent that you can open or close to help get the humidity into
the range you’re looking for. I’ll talk more about humidity in a
later post, but I think that incorrect humidity in the incubator was
one of the major causes of our low hatch rate the first time around.
- Less noisy — The eggs
in the Octagon 20 are constantly being slowly rotated, so there’s no
sudden beeping and then whirring as the eggs are turned. This
isn’t really important, but it’s nice not to have an alarm go off every
That said, there are a
few disadvantages to the Octagon 20 compared to the Mini incubator:
- Larger size — Of
course, it takes more room to fit 24 eggs compared to 7 eggs, but the
way the egg-turner rotates the whole incubator from side to side means
that the unit can’t sit close to a wall.
- A bit more setup — You
have to assemble the egg-turner and take off a plastic plate to install
the incubator’s power cord. This isn’t really all that tough, but
it will take you about half an hour with a Phillips screwdriver.
- No auto shutoff of the turning
motor — The Mini incubator had a feature where it would
automatically shut off the egg turning motor two days before
hatch. The egg-turner for the Octagon 20 is a separate unit with
a separate power cord, so you have to shut the turner off manually when
the time comes. On the other hand, you need to increase the
humidity in either incubator at the same time the egg turning stops, so
there’s not a huge benefit to having the egg turner shut off
automatically. Plus, with the incubator and the egg-turner being
completely separate for the Octagon 20, if one fails, you can just
replace that part instead of your whole unit.
I also had a minor
problem that I hope none of you run into — I assembled the egg-turner
and it was missing a piece. After second-guessing myself for a
while, I called Brinsea and they sent me out a replacement piece at no
cost, but the delay (just two working days, plus the weekend) meant the
hatching eggs I’d ordered online had to sit around while I waited on
the part. The delay might affect our first hatch in the new
incubator, but is already water under the bridge.
The Brinsea Octagon 20
incubator is costly, at $300, but I’m hoping the extra money will be
worth it. We’re going to have to hatch a lot of chicks to make
this incubator pay for itself….
with clean water for your flock and less work for you.