Modern incubators are electrically heated with a thermostat. Incubators can be used in a farmhouse, such as a large chicken raising facilities, or they can be found in a common classroom for students to observe the egg inside and when it hatches. Some incubators are large enough to hold up to 400 eggs, while some other styles can only hold a few eggs. The different styles of incubators include the following:
- setter incubator
- hatcher incubator
- combination incubator
The incubator is an apparatus that is used for environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity that needs to be controlled. It is often used for growing bacterial cultures, hatching eggs artificially, or providing suitable conditions for a chemical or biological reaction. The incubator is recorded to hatch not only bird eggs, but it also is used to hatch reptile eggs. It allows the fetus inside of the egg to grow without the mother needing to be present to provide the warmth. Chicken eggs are recorded to hatch after about 21 days, but other species of birds can either take a longer or shorter amount of time. An incubator is supposed to be able to set the perfect environment and condition for an egg to incubate because it regulates the factors such as temperature, humidity, and turning the eggs when necessary. This is so that the egg incubated properly because it plays the role of the hen in its natural state. The incubator also allows the egg to incubate while eliminating the external threats that could possibly harm the eggs. It is possible to incubate different species of birds at the same time within the same incubator.
The common names of the incubator in other terms include the following:
- breeding machines
- hatching machines
- artificial incubation equipment
- egg breeding equipment
- egg hatching equipment
- eier broeiers
A magazine published in Britain during WWII described an incubator as "a wooden box, hot water, and a curtain". One of the first recorded methods of incubating included using the heat of rotted manure to warm the eggs. The Egyptians had a better method of incubating that used a cylindrical building that had a fire at the bottom of the building. The eggs that were incubating were placed on an inverted cone that was partially covered in ash. The eggs were placed in a woven basket that sat on top of the ashes. The building also had a roof that allowed smoke to escape, but it kept the rain out. In 400 B.C., Aristotle had recorded that women of the time in Greece would tuck eggs under their breast to keep them warm. Mechanical incubating was not invented until the year of 1749 by Reamur in Paris, France. The first commercial machine was made by Hearson in the year of 1881.