duck eggs in incubator

Little Giant Incubator Review

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Are you wanting to hatch your own eggs? Are you trying to figure out which incubator to purchase?

The Little Giant Circulated Air Incubator is a popular choice among poultry farmers and hobbyists who want to hatch their own chicks. This incubator is known for its ease of use and reasonable price point.  

In this review, we will take a closer look at the features and performance of the Little Giant Circulated Air Incubator, as well as the overall user experience. Whether you’re a seasoned poultry farmer or just starting out, this review will provide you with valuable insights to help you make an informed decision about whether this incubator is right for your needs. 

What are the key features of the Little Giant Incubator?

This incubator is a very common model, available online as well as in most farm stores. The company has been around since the 1940s creating a trustworthy reputation. This model holds plenty of eggs, circulates the air, has a digital thermometer and hydrometer, as well as 2 large viewing windows. It also has 6 water channels built into the bottom for adjustable humidity and a large plastic screen (dishwasher safe) that the eggs sit on.  

How do they compare to other models on the market? 

This model compares quite well. The other well known brand is Brinsea, but they are much more expensive. I’ve also heard of people having minor temperature/ humidity level fluctuations with even the most expensive incubators. There is plenty of room for the chicks to move around if you are needing to wait a day or 2 for the other eggs to finish hatching. The Brinsea incubators look quite cramped with the chicks once they start hatching, although I cannot speak from personal experience.

How easy is it to set up and operate the incubator? Are there any notable issues or challenges? 

The set up is super simple and easy, no previous knowledge of incubators needed. You will set the temperature by pressing and holding the SET button (temperature will begin to flash), then use the UP or DOWN buttons to adjust. Press and hold the SET button again to lock in your desired temperature. Once the temperature has been set you can click the SET button to toggle between the current temperature and the set temperature. 

Majority of poultry eggs need to be incubated between 99-100F. Be sure to research what temperature your eggs need to be at based on your breed of bird. 

Depending on your house temperature you may need to keep the “set temperature” slightly above or below your desired temperature to keep the average temperature where it should be.  I double checked the temperature with a digital thermometer and found that for me the temperature needed to be set 0.2 degrees higher than recommended. I found this aquarium thermometer to be the best. The screen can be outside the incubator and you can adjust the height of where it’s reading very easily. Because it is meant for fish tanks it can also handle the higher humidity.

It is strongly recommended to use an additional thermometer in the incubator at all times to ensure the temperature is correct. Regardless of how trustworthy a product is there is always a chance of a malfunction and to avoid losing all your eggs its best to have a second reading to be sure. 

What is the capacity of the incubator? How many eggs can it hold at once? 

When used with the Little Giant Automatic Egg Turner this incubator can hold up to 41 large chicken eggs, or approx. 20 small duck eggs. I have not tried but I assume you could hatch 41 Call Duck eggs, as they are quite small. With the specialized Quail Rails Egg Turner you can have up to 120 quail eggs (or bantam chickens). The Quail Rails are used with the regular Little Giant Automatic Egg Turner. Just snap out the chicken egg holders and snap in the Quail Rails.

Without the automatic egg turners this incubator can hold 46 chicken eggs, 120 quail eggs, 90 pheasant eggs, or 40 duck or turkey eggs. 

duck eggs sitting in the little giant automatic egg turner inside the little giant circulated air incubator

I used the automatic egg turner when hatching my ducklings. However, in order to prevent them from touching each other I had to place them in every other egg holder. I have only hatched smaller breeds of ducks (Indian runner, Welsh harlequin, Cayuga) and they just barely fit in the turner. Jumbo Pekin or Muscovy eggs would probably be too big to fit properly and thus would need to be turned by hand (just like turkey eggs).

Incubating Goose eggs in this incubator is not recommended. They are too big and end up being too close to the heating element. 

How consistent is the temperature and humidity control? Have you noticed any fluctuations or inconsistencies? 

I find that the temperature and humidity do fluctuate a bit once set up. However I have not found it to cause any issues.

When a mother duck is sitting on a nest of eggs she will rotate them around. She moves the eggs from the middle (where its warmest) to the edges (where its coolest). She does this to keep all the eggs at approximately the same developmental level. When its hotter the embryo develops faster, when its cooler they develop slower. Because the mother does this the eggs all experience a fluctuation in temperatures. Thus the fluctuation in temperatures within the incubator are actually more natural than if it were an exact temperature 24/7.

Following the recommendation, I let the incubator sit and run at desired temperature and humidity for at least 8 hrs (checking periodically) before placing eggs inside. This is to ensure everything is working properly. 

When the humidity needed to be raised I added water to the channels in the bottom of the incubator. I had no issues with fluctuations.  During lockdown I used a turkey baster and a straw to add more water through one of the holes. This ensured I didn’t splash water everywhere

Regardless of how good quality or expensive an incubator is you should always use a secondary thermometer to double check the temperatures. Even the top of the line products can have failures. Using a secondary thermometer can also help you to see what the difference in temperature is around the incubator.

little giant incubator with duck eggs inside

I did find that there is a slight temperature difference between one side and the other. But when I candled the eggs (every 5-7 days) I would rotate the eggs around the incubator. I have had 90-100% success rate every time I have used it.

How well does the incubator perform in terms of hatching rates? Have you had any problems with failed hatches or other issues? 

So far I have done batches with between 5 and 16 duck eggs at a time and have had a 90-100% success rate. I have also lent it out to several people, incubating chicks, and they also had near perfect success rate every time. I think the eggs that didn’t make it were due to the quality of eggs rather than any issues with the incubator itself. 

The first time I used this model of incubator I had borrowed one from a friend. She had used that incubator for many years doing several full batches every year. I was only relying on the thermostat on the incubator, which ended up being a big mistake. Right before lockdown the thermostat failed. It constantly read that the temperature was too cold, thus turning the heat up. When in fact it was already warm enough in there. All the eggs ended up getting cooked due to the thermostat failure.

I went and bought another incubator of the same model. This time I added another thermometer to double check the temperature. I have had zero issues or complications since. 

Is the incubator durable and built to last? Are there any concerns about the quality of the materials or construction? 

The incubator is made from Styrofoam, so it is breakable if you are not gentle with it. However, when properly cared for it can last many years and hatch hundreds of birds. 

I always clean it and put it back in the original box for storage. To ensure it lasts a long time and does not compromise any future hatches do not use any harsh chemicals when cleaning it out. I just use dawn dish soap and make sure to rinse it well. To avoid any mold or mildew growth I ensure it is completely dry before putting into storage. 

According to the manufacturer the bottom screen and the rails from the egg turner are both dishwasher safe. Although I have not tried it. 

Are there any additional features or accessories that come with the incubator, such as automatic egg turners or alarms? How do they enhance the overall user experience? 

There are additional accessories you can get for it like the different sized egg turners. If you are handy there are replacement parts for all parts of the incubator. This includes the digital thermometer, sensor, and power cord. This is very convenient as even the best of the best will eventually fail. So instead of spending 100s of dollars on a new incubator you can just replace the part that broke.

What is the overall value of the Little Giant Incubator, and would you recommend it to other poultry enthusiasts or hobbyists? 

The incubator can range in prices depending on where you buy it (in store vs online). I paid approximately $150CAD from a local farm store (in BC, Canada) in 2020. I would 100% recommend this incubator to anyone wanting to try and incubate their own eggs. Little Giant also has a Still Air Incubator, although I have not tried it. But it seems to be a cheaper option. If you live within the United States you can look up local retailers to find a Little Giant Incubator in store by checking out their website.

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