WHAT a cracking idea!

Holme Valley teenager, Tom Kitchen-Dunn has plenty to crow about with his new business venture – supplying mini-incubators for people wanting to hatch out and rear their own chickens.

The incubators allow people to hatch out three eggs at a time and have a transparent cover so they can see the process for themselves.

Tom, 19, who keeps and exhibits about 30 chickens on his smallholding at Hade Edge, has received interest in the product from schools as well as individuals.

He has sold several to schools in Manchester and is also targeting schools in Huddersfield and Barnsley.

Tom is also working with the New Directions College at Aspley and Nortonthorpe Child and Family Trust at Mirfield, which supports children and young people facing emotional problems.

Schools can lease the incubators and eggs along with lesson plans, charts and worksheets covering topics such as embryo development and rearing chicks.

The process provides a practical slant to science and biology lessons.

Tom’s company, Chickadee Poultry, can also come into schools to teach children about poultry and careers in farming as well as delivering interesting science and facts about breeding poultry.

“People who have never kept chick before or have no intention of keeping the chicks when they hatch can still have a go,” said Tom.

“They can keep the chicks or we can take them back when we collect the incubator.

“All they have to do is add water when the incubator ‘asks’ them to – and sit back and watch the chicks hatch in just 21 days.”

Leasing the incubators – at a cost of £45 for 24 days – is the latest addition to Tom’s business, which he started after developing his own natural health products for poultry such as supplements and creams to eradicate parasites.

While Tom’s birds include pure breeds such as Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons and Light Suffolks kept to show, he said many more people were keeping poultry as pets.

The trend has also prompted him to start work on designing a new product, an eco-friendly, easy-assembly chicken hut, which people can put up in their own gardens.

Tom is working on the project with students at the new Direction College at Aspley .

He said: “Chickens are easy to look after and they are fun to watch – and you get your own eggs. It’s a satisfying feeling picking up an egg from a nesting box first thing in the morning!”