Brinsea's small chicken incubator - the 'Mini Advance': ideal for first-time hatching!

One of the best ways to take some of the understandable stress out of incubating chicken eggs is to have a reliable incubator.

Brinsea Mini Advance incubator review - pin for later.

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Brinsea's small Mini-Advance chicken egg incubator is exactly that. It comes as close as any machine can to behaving like a mother hen would - and it's easy to set up and use in the process. 

I have two of these machines. The first is still working after nearly ten years' use, the second after seven (because, as you'll discover, one incubator is never enough!).

This little incubator is my preferred model of them all, despite the fact that I have others which are larger, have more features and are (much!) more expensive.

The best feature 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 magical process of watching a chick hatching from an egg.

If you're incubating chicks at home or at school, you're satisfied with hatching up to seven eggs, and you want something that takes a lot of the stress out of hatching, this is the incubator I would strongly advise you to use.

Here's what you'll find on this page.  Click on any of these links if you have questions about a specific area.  For my detailed review, simply read the article in full.

The Brinsea Mini Advance chicken incubator: 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 ten years ago. Not that I'm suggesting you go out of your way to mistreat it!
  • The internal fan means the eggs are maintained at an ideal temperature all round. In other incubators, eggs can be warm at one end and cooler at the other. Hatch rates are considerably improved by an even temperature.
  • 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.
  • 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, controlling temperature and humidity. You just have to remember to top up the water chamber every couple of days. 
  • This updated model has a way of topping up water for humidity from an external reservoir without lifting the lid - a definite bonus from my earlier model.
  • 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!

Please note: the links here and on all the images are to the most recent version of the Mini Advance. It's the same as my model but with an improved external water top-up feature and a more colourful top!

Who's this incubator a good fit 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 machine 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 pupils - and of course the same applies about being sure you are able to deal with post-hatch homing of the results.

How to use the Mini Advance chicken incubator.

  • Choose your eggs carefully. This incubator comes with one disc which holds up to seven large chicken eggs. A disc holding ten smaller bantam or quails' eggs has to be bought separately. The blunt end of the egg 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. At that point the level should come right up to the top of the water container on both sides.
  • Set the digital display (see the video below) for the appropriate temperature, number of days, turning times and cooling periods.
  • The egg ring turns automatically 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.
  • 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. I've had chicks hatch as late as three days after that.
  • Now sit back and wait for your chicks to do the hard work!

Setting up the Brinsea Mini Advance - a video.

Because some people told me they were a little intimidated by this chicken 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 damp turning mechanism.
  • 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 often keep mine in my office 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 standard and bantam chicken eggs. It will also incubate smaller eggs (quail for example) with the small egg tray that comes with it, 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.

The Mini Advance's five greatest advantages are ...

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

  • Top of the list: the "up close and personal" view! This is one of my Speckled Sussex chicks who has just hatched and, as you can see, you can get as close as it's possible to be without actually climbing into the incubator!
  • So it's excellent for kids in particular (of all ages!). Watching a chick hatch is the most magical experience.
A chick hatching at day 21.

2.   It's so easy to set up. The digital display can be a bit confusing at first, but follow the steps in my video (above) and you'll be fine.

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. And the new model allows this to be done without raising the lid, which is critically important after "lockdown".

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

Conclusion and "Golden Egg" award.

If you've seen any of my other product reviews, you'll know that I award golden eggs, rating from one (I wouldn't touch this item even if it were free!) to five (I love this item and highly recommend it).

For the Brinsea Mini Advance chicken egg incubator, I award it no less than...

5 Golden Eggs.

A Fabulous Five Golden Eggs!

A less expensive option.

If the Mini Advance cost is just too much, there is a less expensive version of this incubator which doesn't have the automatic turning mechanism. You need to turn each egg by hand, several times a day. Otherwise, it's exactly the same machine.

My advice is, if it's at all within your financial grasp, to go with the Mini Advance. Consistent turning is critical to a successful hatch and it's all too easy to forget.

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

A more expensive option.

There's an upgraded model of the Mini Advance - the Mini Advance Ex. It includes an automatic humidity control. However, it's a lot more expensive and it doesn't have the automatic day countdown function of the Mini Advance.

If you want an external humidity pump which controls humidity automatically - 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!

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

Brinsea's Octagon 20 incubator review - link.

My second largest incubator is the Brinsea Octagon 20. It can hold up to 24 large chicken eggs for hatching, automatically turns (actually rocks!) the eggs and has a humidity pump attachment.

If you don't want to outlay a lot of money all at once, you can build it up in stages from completely manual to completely automated.

Like the Mini Advance, it has lots of positives and one or two disadvantages.

Read my detailed review by clicking here or on the button.

Here are some other pages about incubating and hatching chicken eggs. 

Incubating equipment explained - link.
Everything you need to know about choosing the right incubator for your needs. Click to view article.
Preparing fertile eggs for a successful hatch - link.
How to candle eggs without having disasters!  Click here for details.
What do baby chicks eat? Link.
My step-by-step course to the perfect hatch - link.
Link to Raising Happy Chickens home page.