As anyone using the internet would know, hours can be wasted in the name of "research"! Google is my best friend in this regard, but it can also be a long-winded one. Page, after page, after page of results. I wish they had a new feature called, "these are the ones you really want!"
Alas, you just have to sift through the lot to find what you're after. So I thought I'd share some of the links I found during my internet research on incubators. There are quite a few different ones out there.
Being budget conscious, I didn't want to spend over $300 Australian, for an incubator to hatch my chicken eggs. Neither could I see myself needing to incubate over 100 eggs at a time. I wanted a few indulgent features; like the turbo fan for more even heat distribution and a thermostate to maintain an even temperature. I had to ponder if I really needed the automatic egg turning features though?
Well the first ones I came across were the styrofoam type incubators. They look like this:
This particular brand is known as a "Hovabator", but there is also an Australian made version known as a "Bellsouth". They have two clear windows on the top for viewing the contents, and the styrofoam is meant to insulate well. One of my main concerns however, was keeping the styrofoam clean, especially after chickens hatch.
Of course with the Hovabator, you can also purchase auto turning racks, which look like this:
These are really handy, as they'll turn the eggs regularly for you, without having to open the incubator. But unfortunately, a Hovabator or Bellsouth unit, with every feature I wanted (including the auto turning unit) would cost in excess of $300 Australian. That's not including postage and handling either. So it was on with my search!
I really liked the next incubator, as it had a bigger window to view and just looked easier to use:
This is the IM, 12 egg, manual turn incubator. This one cost bang-on $300, but I felt is was just a little too small for the asking price of a manual turn incubator. If I wanted the IM 24 egg, with everything included - it was around $560 Australian. Yep, it really is that expensive to buy a good incubator. Maybe if I was thinking about making money from hatching eggs, I could justify the expense - but I was really just "small fry" hobby hatching at this stage.
Not this small though! An "R-Com 3" (as the name suggests) only incubates 3 eggs at a time, but it's claimed to be fully automated. Set and forget!
While all these units had some of everything I wanted, I still hadn't found the one unit I could part with my money for. Then I stumbled across the Hexabator unit.
You would recognise this photo from one of my earlier posts - but this is the Hexabator set-up. It had the automated features I felt were essential, without the auto turning features. It was under $300 Australian, it was plastic for easy cleaning, turbo fan, thermostat and digital thermometer included as well - I didn't even have to buy the batteries! Including postage and handling, it cost around $230 Australian.
Of course, I have to see how it incubates with my first batch of eggs. Which actually brings me to a very important piece of information - the competence of the user. As good (or as bad) as the instruction manual may be, you really should join a poultry forum or have access to people who have used an incubator before. There is no substitute for experience- when you don't have any, find others who do. Expect the first few batches won't be the success you dream of, until you learn the tricks of the trade.
To help a little, I've included a link to a very good Poultry forum based in Australia. More importantly, it is to a discussion about the best incubators. It's a very fascinating read, and you'll find it here.
Also, here are some of the online incubators for sale in Australia:
Planet Poultry - where I purchased my Hexabator
WA Poultry Equipment - Australia wide sales, & pictures used from this site
Bellsouth Pty Ltd - Australia wide sales, & pictures used from this site
Brookfield Poultry Equipment - Queensland based but posts Australia wide.
Top Knot Poultry Supplies - Posts Australia wide.
Small-Farm Permaculture and Sustainable Living - best stats on the Hexabator unit
City Chickens - For South-East Queensland, option to rent units, also sales Aust wide
Have fun researching what incubator is best for your situation!