Here on Old Redding Farm we have not actually been hatching eggs all along. For the first 4 years of keeping chickens here we would purchase chicks and have them mailed to us via USPS. We love supporting hatcheries who send quality chicks nationwide. I believe that this business model makes chicken keeping accessible and appealing to a wider audience. The more people who get to experience keeping chickens at home, taking care of these funny little breakfast makers, the better!
Part of the reason we weren’t hatching eggs is because for a long time any time a rooster would end up on our farm, Catherine would deem them too loud, and they would get rehomed to one of two farms in the area that have rooster drop off programs. Then, she met Norman. Norman the rooster is a quiet dude with frizzled feathers. He is non-confrontational with both the humans and chickens of Old Redding Farm. He lived with us for about a year before we finally bit the bullet and bought an incubator so we could hatch our own eggs. And actually it wasn’t even Norman that finally set us over the edge to buy an incubator but rather winning an Instagram give away from Sky Girl Farm (check her out!) So with those eggs on the way, we rushed out to purchase our first incubator.
The first incubator we ever bought was the Brinsea Maxi II manual 30 egg incubator. This incubator is a little basic. You need to manually adjust the temperature, egg turning is manual, and there is no hygrometer to monitor the humidity. And actually our first hatch was mostly met with heart break. About half way though the 21 day process the incubator’s fan motor started making some awful grinding noises, and while it was still running the whole time, the incubator’s ability to hold temperature was VERY effected and of the 12 eggs that we got from Sky Girl Farm, only one egg made it out. Undeterred, we did reach out to the company and they sent us a replacement motor and we were back up and running. Several hatches later with Norman we were starting to feel cramped for space. 30 egg seems like a lot of eggs but knowing that half of those eggs will turn into roosters which will eventually need to be re-homed, we are really only hatching 12-15 hens at a time and selling some chicks on the side was a good encouragement that we needed to go bigger.
That brought us to keeping our eye on the Ovation EX 56 egg incubator. This incubator is definitely a higher end incubator. The eggs sit into plastic egg turners and several times a day the incubator automatically turns the eggs. The humidity is controlled by the incubator and water is drawn through a hose that can go into a water reservoir of your choice, we are currently using a washed out pasta sauce jar. Buying this incubator made us feel like we had arrived. Unfortunately this incubator was also not with out its issues. We ran one successful hatch through it and the next time we plugged it in, the egg turner motor was burned out. Disappointed and frustrated we were back on the phone with Brinsea and soon a new motor was on the way. Unfortunately our disappointments and challenges did not end there. New motor in hand we attempted the repair and found that 3 of the 10 or so screws that hold the lid together had somehow stripped out the plastic and they were STUCK. Repair mission unsuccessful we were back on the phone explaining the situation. After a longer than ideal conversation and one little, “may I please speak with your manager?” moment, the lid ended up being shipped back to Brinsea for them to battle the repair themselves. A few weeks later the lid arrived back at our door and, we were off!
But in all this time passed, we were really thinking about bigger and better things. And by bigger, we clearly don’t just mean more chickens, because if you have been following along you already know, we are hatching EMUS! We were researching the most reliable cabinet style incubators and we knew we were ready to steer clear of Brinsea and that’s when we found the GQF 1502 Digital Sportsman incubator.
This incubator is a Cadilac! It is HUGE and can easily fit 24 emu eggs!! The other variety of eggs that you might be interested in hatching are qual: 744 egg max, Pheasant or Bantam eggs: 354 egg max, Chicken eggs: 288 egg max!! and last up is duck or turkey eggs 216 egg max.
That’s a TON of eggs! I can hardly imagine hatching out almost 300 chicken eggs at once! That would be SO SO SO MANY BABIES! This incubator has automatic turners, and two choices for a water reservoir to maintain humidity. One thing to keep in mind when purchasing this incubator is you do need to purchase egg trays to hold the eggs in place on the shelves that turn.
It is a little hard to write a full review on this big monster of an incubator since we are still in the middle of our first hatch, but so far so good! And even if our hatch rate isn’t perfect, we are keeping in mind that emu eggs can be tricky to hatch so the true test will be when we load this guy up with chicken eggs maybe closer to spring.
If you have any thoughts or questions please feel free to email us at Oldreddingfarm@gmail.com