Hatching Chicks: Incubator vs. Broody Hen

You can incubate fertile eggs in an incubator or by a broody hen. A broody hen gives eggs optimum conditions for hatching (temperature, humidity, ventilation and egg turning). An incubator provides fertile eggs with an artificial environment to stimulate embryonic development until the egg hatches. Hens can hatch up to only 10-12 eggs at a time.

For large-scale production, hatching eggs with broody hens is not viable. So, if you plan to start a commercial poultry business, you must invest in an incubator.

Many backyard poultry farmers are confused about whether they should invest in an incubator or not. Let’s answer this question in complete depth and weigh the pros and cons of an incubator.

Many small-scale poultry farmers view incubators as a big investment. However, they should not just judge this investment on the basis of operational costs and initial purchase cost. They should also look at it in terms of higher hatchability and improved results.

If you want to maintain a steady supply of day old chicks at your poultry farm, you must have a supply of top quality fertile eggs. This is only possible if you invest in hatching day-old chicks.

Unfortunately, a broody hen can ruin fertile eggs or become un-broody.

Disadvantages of Broody Hens

Some hens do not sit on the eggs for the entire 21-day period. They may abandon the eggs halfway through. In this case, it is a good idea to have an incubator as your second option. Moreover, many broodies don’t make good mothers and may not care for the chicks once they hatch. Some might even maim or kill the egg even before it hatches.

Another disadvantage of using hens is that both the fertile eggs and chicks are vulnerable to predators such as rats and snakes as well as other flock members. So, you have to keep the broody hens in a safe place. An incubator makes this easier.

Let’s examine the benefits of using an incubator one by one.

Advantages of Incubators


An incubator can hatch as many eggs as you want. You can purchase a 12-egg incubator or a 70-egg incubator. You are the one who controls the hatching. A broody hen can hatch up to 10-12 eggs only. Also, the hatchability with broody hens varies. Therefore, broody hens are not a reliable option if you want your investment to remain safe.

Humidity & Temperature Control

An automatic incubator can control artificial conditions for hatching. You can set the temperature and humidity according to environmental conditions. This will result in a far better hatch rate.

Turning the Eggs

An incubator can automate turning of eggs. It works similar to a broody hen. The only difference is that  an incubator won’t ruin the eggs or waste them. Therefore,fertile eggs will be safe in an incubator.


With an incubator, you can hatch whenever you want. You are not dependent on broody hens.


An incubator also keeps fertile eggs safe from predators, unlike a broody hen.

Hatching Process

Another benefit of using an incubator is that you can observe the entire hatching process. Incubators have a clear top that lets you see inside of them. This is not possible with broody hens because they sit on top of the eggs to hatch them. You can watch Nature do its magic as the eggs hatch. Isn’t that amazing?


Are you looking for an incubator to make your life easier? We have a wide variety that you can choose from. From a 7-egg incubator to a 70-egg incubator, you can choose whichever fits your needs.