Tuesday, June 28News That Matters

Roller Type vs Swing Type: Which Incubator is Better and Why?

Choosing the right incubator for your hatching needs can be a daunting task. There are many different models and variants to incubate your hatching eggs and each model is slightly different having different levels of functionality. If you are to assemble your own incubator, the challenge could be bigger especially if this is the first time that you are going to try building one.

From the basic container, carton, or styrofoam box incubator where you turn eggs manually 3 times per day, set the temperature, and add water to a reservoir to provide the correct humidity, to the fully automatic incubator that can set temperature and humidity for the right species with the press of a button, we look at the two most important things you might want to consider before you invest some money in buying or building your first incubator.

There are two most common types of incubators. The swing type (tilting), and the rolling type.

The Swing Type Incubator

The swing-type incubator uses commercially manufactured egg trays. The egg tray then is attached to a lever connected to the motor which makes the tray tilt usually 45 degrees back and forth depending on the frequency set on the timer.

See how a typical swing type incubator works below (Note: this is not our video. Just a reference)

The Roller Type Incubator

There are two types of rolling mechanisms. The first is the tray is moving while the eggs are sitting on a fixed surface (usually screen). The second type is the eggs are sitting on rollers. Either way, the function is the same – to roll the eggs.

See how the roller-type incubator works below. (Note: this is not our video. Just a reference)

Commercially-manufactured incubators

Most locally-built incubators are swing types. The reason probably is that it is easier to build and egg trays are readily available. There are few people who manufacture rolling-type incubators and one of the reasons is that it is harder to build because it does not use a manufactured tray. Everything must be custom-built.

Swing Type Incubator Pros

  • Easy to build
  • Very popular and can be purchased from anywhere even online
  • Low-capacity compact incubators are available online on Lazada and Shopee

Swing Type Incubators Cons

  • High-capacity incubators need larger internal space as trays need extra space when tilted.
  • Does not emulate the natural egg movement similar to what hens do during natural incubation
  • Eggs don’t move and only titled back and forth in 2 positions
  • Chicks can fall down if the owner forgets to transfer the eggs to the hatcher

Roller Type Incubator Pros

  • Compact and needs only smaller internal space
  • Total egg movement emulating the hen’s natural nudging activity
  • Total stability of eggs because they are sitting on a fixed platform and chicks can’t be dropped if the owner forgets to transfer the hatching eggs to the hatcher.
  • Higher hatch rate compared to the swing type (will explain below)

Roller Type Incubator Cons

  • Not easy to build and one must be creative to build one.
  • Not commercially manufactured

What the Research Say

A case study published on the National Library of Medicine (NLM), under the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with the title “Effect on hatchability of tilting instead of turning chicken eggs during incubation” has this to say:

Six experiments were conducted to examine the feasibility of “tilting” instead of turning chicken eggs during incubation to provide a near-constant airflow pattern. At hourly intervals, eggs were tilted 45 degrees in opposite directions for consecutive intervals and returned to their original orientation. Eggs were oriented either vertically (large end up), at a 45-degree angle, or horizontally. Comparisons were made in terms of the hatchability of fertile eggs, hatchability of transferred eggs, embryonic mortality, and malpositions. Tilting instead of turning depressed hatchability regardless of orientation. Depressions were cumulative and additive, with significant depression for all eggs tilted during the 1st wk of incubation, and diminished effects the 2nd and 3rd wk. Late incubation embryonic mortality was elevated in the tilted groups, and the frequency of malpositions increased. Malposition II predominated in the tilted groups oriented 45 degrees or horizontally, whereas Malposition III predominated in the controls and in the tilted groups oriented vertically. It was concluded that tilting incubating eggs is not a viable alternative to conventional turning practices.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and public health research.


Even before publishing this article, we already made the research and concluded that roller type incubator provides a better result than swing type therefore, we personally built our own roller-type incubator. This might be unwelcoming news to many people who build and sell swing-type incubators but the fact that roller type is better than swing type remains. It’s up to the buyers what to buy.

What is your personal pick based on the videos? Please leave a comment below and thanks for reading.

Selected References:

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