We are potentially in the market for an incubator that we can use to hatch replacement layers/fryers for our little flock. The thing is, we would only need to hatch about 12-15 eggs at a time to maintain our little flock on a rotating basis: the idea being, 12 chicks hatched = about 6 new layers and 6 fryers/roasters. (We have a diversified farm with no reason to scale up, chickens are just one of the animals we keep, and feed is expensive--but so are chicks, and you're often stuck with limited selection, unless you buy larger quantities at once that then have to be shipped across the Pacific Ocean--so a hundred dollars down on an incubator would pay for itself in two hatches, plus we'd have the convenience of sustaining our own flock, and only bring in new blood when needed). For the record, I like using broody hens too, although that has its own set of pros and cons, so right now that's plan B.
There are plenty of inexpensive incubators out there (and I''ve used a couple of them in the past), but it seems like they all hold 40 to 50 eggs, which is overkill for us. A lot of them are crap too, I've learned. Then there are a few small ones, but they either don't seem as good a value, or they hold only a handful of eggs (more for class-room science projects or hobbyists I imagine).
So, does anybody know of a nice model of reliable, good value, incubator that would be ideal for 12-15 egg hatches? Or are we really better off just getting a 50 egg incubator that's going to be 3/4 empty?? We'd want one with a halfway decent thermostat, preferable digital--I've monkeyed with the junky mechanical ones before and found them incredibly fussy and frustrating.
Anyway, I'd greatly appreciate it if anyone has a lead or two they would share...