Charlotte Carnegie is the owner of ‘Charlotte’s Poultry’, based near Bristol. Charlotte is a long-time Brinsea fan, and has recently taken delivery of her new Ovation 56 EX…

‘I was first introduced to chickens by my parents at the age of four and I remember being very excited when our Brown Leghorns arrived as youngsters. I have fond memories of my first hen “Beauty,” whom I was determined to teach to talk after reading a children’s novel about a hen called Polly that could talk. Unfortunately Beauty never did speak but it was tending to her and her friends that sparked my passion for poultry. After an unfortunate fox attack when I was 8 years old we acquired four Pekin bantams and it was then I realised that not all chickens looked like Brown Leghorns! I was later gifted a copy of ‘Bantams in Colour’ and when asked what I wanted for my birthday I replied, “Chickens!” My mum and I spent many hours poring over that book and eventually I was set on getting some Partridge Wyandotte bantams, a breed that I’ve been very fond of ever since.

My first incubator came in the form of an Octagon 20, which my dad bought me for my 11th birthday from a man who came to fit our house alarm. He had used it to hatch Peregrine falcons and no longer had need of it. Hatching proved to be a steep learning curve and our first hatch yielded just 3 chicks from 12 eggs. We purchased an auto-turn cradle and soon we were over-run, within a year or so we were getting a 100% hatch rate and that little machine served me well right up until last year!

At 14 I was unfortunately diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I found the birds to be very soothing and I would often spend my hours when I was awake with the chickens, cleaning out and feeding. Over the years we began to collect more breeds and colours, I think at one point we had 20 colours of Pekin bantam, and of course with more chickens came more incubators! By the time I left school at 18 I’d bought a few more Octagon 20s and an Octagon 40, from which I have had many successful hatches.

With my illness, job searches proved fruitless and eventually I came to the conclusion that working for myself may be the best option and the obvious answer was, of course, chickens. I’d had my website, Charlotte’s Poultry, since 2003 for selling surplus from my own breeding programs, but now it was time to give it a revamp and turn my hobby into a job. In June 2013 we found some land to rent to base the business at and after weeks of clearing lots of brambles and nettles and building pens, Charlotte’s Poultry was starting to take shape.

Charlotte Carnegie with a selection of her Brinsea incubators

In the first year we hatched a couple of hundred pure breeds but as breed numbers and demand grew I found I was in need of even more incubator space, there was only one place to turn – Brinsea! We purchased our OvaEasy 380, which has helped us produce much needed stock over the last 18 months. I find I prefer to use my 20’s and 40’s more for hatching now to keep the big machine clean at all times, this allows me to set the eggs weekly so they’re as fresh as possible. My stepdad Martyn is our resident incubator operator and with his help we manage to run incubating and hatching like a well-oiled machine. He sets the eggs, I candle them and my mum oversees the hatching, though we do occasionally find that Martyn has gone rogue and end up with some ‘Martyn surprises’ in the hatcher!

We now have about 25 different breeds and colours on site and we’re looking forward to another exciting hatching season in 2017, nothing beats coming in to find hundreds of fluffy chickens waiting for me in the incubator.’

Charlotte Carnegie, Charlotte’s Poultry

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