Brinsea's small chicken incubator - the 'Mini Advance': a little gem to hatch little gems!

If you're thinking of incubating and hatching chicks for the first time I'm guessing you're feeling a mixture of excited and terrified.  I know I did.

Here's one of the best ways I've found of taking the stress out of the process - Brinsea's small 'Mini Advance' chicken egg incubator.  It comes as close as any machine can to behaving just like a mother hen would.

It's easy to use and extremely reliable.  I've had mine for nearly four years, used it at least twice each year and it's never failed me.  It's my preferred incubator despite the fact that I have others which are larger and more expensive.

One of my Wyandotte chicks hatching in the Brinsea Mini Advance.

Chick hatching in Brinsea egg incubator.

Best of all, its huge dome allows you to get as close to your hatching chicks as it's possible to be - a grandstand view!

That makes it particularly good for schools and for parents or grandparents encouraging children to follow the process.

Here's the bottom line.

  • This small chicken incubator is made of a very robust plastic.  That in itself makes it ideal if you have young children who want to hatch - I've dropped mine a couple of times and it's still intact and working just as well as when it first came out of the box.  Not that I'm suggesting you go out of your way to mistreat it!
  • Its large, clear dome makes it a great viewing chamber so it's possible to watch every minute of your chicks hatching without losing any of the drama and without having to raise the lid at critical times.  For this, it's actually much better than Brinsea's larger and more expensive Octagon 20 incubator.
  • The internal fan means the eggs are maintained at an ideal temperature all round - with other incubators eggs can be warm at one end and cooler at the other.  Hatch rates are considerably improved by an even temperature.

My Brinsea incubator seen from the top.  Note the high, clear dome which gives an excellent view.

The smaller of Brinsea's incubator, seen from the top.
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  • It's very compact - sits easily on a desk or small table.
  • It is really, really easy to set up and the digital settings do most of the work for you.  You just have to remember to top up the water chamber every couple of days.
  • Importantly, this incubator automatically turns the eggs for you which is a critical part of incubation.  No more worrying about how often you've turned - or whether you remembered to do it at all.

Who's it good for?

  • Anyone new to hatching - this little chicken incubator makes it easy and virtually fool-proof.
  • Anyone who's hatched before and wants a reliable incubator for just a few eggs at a time.
  • It's great if you're a family with kids and want to hatch your own chicks (as long as you've thought through all the post-hatch issues first).
  • Teachers doing hatching projects with their class - and of course the same applies about being sure you are able to deal with post-hatch homing of the results.

Its clear dome means you can see clearly right the way through the process.

Brinsea's small incubator allows a clear view of what's going on during incubation and hatching.
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How to use it.

  • Choose your eggs carefully.  This incubator holds up to seven chicken eggs which fit into the cut-out plastic disc.  The blunt end should face the outside.
  • Fill one half of the water pot in the centre of the incubator with lukewarm water - up to the top of the divider - and place the top guard back on it.  Make sure you keep it topped up to this level until day 18, which shows on the display as day 2, when the level should come right up to the top of the water container on both sides.
  • Set the digital display for the appropriate temperature, number of days, turning times and cooling periods.

The Mini Advance incubator has a clear and easy to use digital display which counts the days down and keeps the temperature constant until the chickens hatch and you turn it off.

Settings at day 21 of incubation.
  • The egg ring turns at the required intervals and pulls the eggs with it.  It's a simple but very effective way of doing what a mother hen would be doing - making sure the eggs turn so the yolk and embryo don't stick to the shell.
  • The Brinsea counts the days down from 21 to 0.  At day 2, which is three days before hatch, the incubator will stop turning and the display shows '0' to reflect that.
Settings at the point of 'lockdown' when the automatic turner stops.
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  • Make sure you put the top ring back on the water container at day 2 - this stops newly hatched chicks toppling in and drowning.
  • The chicks should start to 'pip' - break through the shell and start to hatch - at day 0.  If they don't, don't panic!  This is not an exact science and chicks come when they're ready.
  • Once you've set it, sit back, relax and wait for 21 days!

Setting up the Brinsea Mini Advance - a video.

Because some people told me they were a little intimidated by this incubator's digital display, I've made a short video which takes you through the steps one by one and shows you how easy it is.  Grab a cup of your favourite beverage - and enjoy!

Any drawbacks?

  • It's not cheap - although for me it's worth every penny for the amount of stress it relieves.
  • This incubator doesn't read the humidity levels so it's impossible to tell as incubation goes on whether the percentage is right or not. 
  • Having said that, keeping the water container topped up as recommended in Brinsea's instructions has worked perfectly well for me.
The Mini Advance incubator's turning mechanism becomes soaked due to high humidity levels.
  • The turning mechanism becomes quite wet because of the necessary high humidity as the chickens hatch.  
  • This can make the screws which hold it in place rusty but it doesn't effect the mechanism at all - or at least it certainly hasn't with mine and I've not seen any other negative comments about it.
  • Some people find it a bit noisy.  I keep mine in my study and have no difficulty working with it.  In fact quite the reverse - when I turn it off, I miss its soft humming noise!
  • This incubator is designed to hatch chickens.  It will also incubate smaller eggs (like quail for example) with the additional small egg tray, but it will not be able to cope with larger poultry such as goose, duck  or turkey.  For that, you'll need the larger Octagon 20.

My view is that its five greatest advantages are ...

In case you can't tell - I love, love, love this incubator!  Here are my five 'personal best' reasons why.

Firstly and most importantly - this is why - the 'up close and personal' view!  This is one of my Light Sussex chickens hatching and as you can see, you can get close enough to be able to see as the egg tooth starts to 'pip'. 

A chick hatching at day 21.

2.   It's so easy to set up.

3.  It automatically turns the eggs as often as I want it to, so I don't have to remember.

4.  It keeps humidity at the right level without the need for complicated equipment.

5.  It cools the eggs for part of each day just as a chicken would do were she incubating.

Where to buy.

Three final tips ...

Firstly -

There is a less expensive version of this incubator which doesn't have the automatic turning mechanism so you need to turn each egg by hand.  Otherwise, it's exactly the same machine.

My advice is, if it's at all within your financial grasp, to go with the model I've reviewed.  Consistent turning is critical to a successful hatch.

However, if it's just not an option, have a look at Brinsea's 'Mini Eco' incubator.

Secondly -

Brinsea chicken incubator small egg tray.

The turning disc that comes as standard with the Mini Advance incubator holds up to seven chicken eggs.  If you want to hatch bantams or other small birds such as quail, you'll need to buy the disc with smaller cavities separately.   This disc can hold up to twelve small eggs.

Click here to buy it.

And finally -

It's possible to buy a version of this incubator with an external humidity pump - the Mini Advance EX. However, it is around $200 more expensive and still can only hatch up to seven eggs.

If you want an external humidity pump - and I have one so I can vouch for how good they are - my suggestion would be to buy the Brinsea Octagon 20 incubator which can take up to 24 eggs and still costs less than the EX.

Wishing You Happy Hatching!

7 baby chickens

If you want to hatch more than a few eggs, you'll need a larger incubator.

Is the Brinsea Octagon 20 the right incubator for you? Find out here!

Use this link to read my review of Brinsea's Octagon Advance incubator which can hold up to 24 chicken eggs. 

It also has the advantage of being able to build it up in stages, from being completely manual to completely automated, rather than having to outlay a lot of money all at once for the all-singing, all-dancing  model.

Nine baby chickens

Here's some other pages about incubating and hatching chicken eggs. 

Just click on the pics to go to that page.

All about incubating equipment - click here.
Make sure you store your precious hatching eggs properly!  Click here for more.
Click here for a step by step guide to incubating and hatching, step by step.
How to candle eggs without having disasters!  Click here for details.

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