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New Project :-)

Posted: Tue May 14, 2013 7:56 pm
by thesunflowergal
I am super excited , I am going to run a new project at my daughter's school. I am going to hatch some chicks in my eldest daughters class. The school already have all the equipment, I just have to get some fertile eggs and do A LOT of reading :lol: :lol: .

If anyone can point me in the direction of some useful info I'd be grateful, and I might be able to make out that I know what I'm doing lol.

Re: New Project :-)

Posted: Tue May 14, 2013 8:03 pm
by diggernotdreamer
I don't want to rain on your parade, but I have seen this happen before with a bad outcome. 1. have you got homes for the chicks, some of which will be cocks and hard to home. 2. have you got a heat lamp. 3. Have you got a suitable enclosure for the chicks to be contained in, and they make a lot of mess and need regular cleaning out, at least daily or sometimes a couple of times depending on size of enclosure. The last thing is, what do children learn from eggs being hatched in an electric chicken, the most natural thing in the world is for a hen to sit on the eggs, hatch them out and then rear them herself, I think the children would learn far more that way. Lastly, my involvement was with an RSPCA inspector friend who had been called into the primary school concerned by some parents that were not happy with what was going on, there was a box with an electric angle poise light hanging over it with some dehydrated chicks with so much poo on their bums they could not crap anymore. I took them all away, cleaned them up and reared them PROPERLY, not in the half baked way the school teachers were doing.

Re: New Project :-)

Posted: Tue May 14, 2013 8:12 pm
by thesunflowergal
I am not a half baked teacher, I have been keeping chickens for the past four years. I have already considered all of the points that you have raised, and as I stated in my post the school already have ALL of the equipment that is required. As we chicken keepers know broody hens are protective and sometime aggressive, I do not think a broody in a classroom with thirty kids is a wise plan hence the incubator.

Re: New Project :-)

Posted: Tue May 14, 2013 9:03 pm
by diggernotdreamer
If anyone can point me in the direction of some useful info I'd be grateful, and I might be able to make out that I know what I'm doing lol.[/quote]

What for did you bother asking for any input then if you already know everything

Re: New Project :-)

Posted: Wed May 15, 2013 7:51 am
by thesunflowergal
If anyone has anything useful that they could add, I would be grateful :iconbiggrin: .

Re: New Project :-)

Posted: Wed May 15, 2013 9:24 am
by trinder
Hi thesunflowergal, congratulation a great opportunity to set some children on the right path. I (i'll say this up front) know very little about chicken but I do know a bit about learning theory.
If it was me I would start by pointing out some of the obvious things - AH poor chicks have no mummy so you could think about how you are going to address issues like. No milk (no boobies) eat feed straight away unlike human babies. Number of babies how they imprint (running after mummy not running away like naughty children) ?
If you start from what if "acceptable" and normal and what isn't and how it will affect them. For example how long can they go without water?- can they swim ( I seem to remember chicken won't go out in the rain but I'm not sure)

Finally think what do I REALLY want them to know about looking after a bird. It's welfare both physically and physiologically .However all of this set within the framework of (a) their age (b) the language you choose.

good luck and well done for offering yourself up. x :hugish:

Re: New Project :-)

Posted: Wed May 15, 2013 9:27 am
by becks77
Hey SG,
good for you I think ths is a fantastic idea, kids learn so much watching nature happen. Seems to me you have everything under control and have the whole thing planned out very well, the one thing we struggled with at first was the humidity so I perchased a £2.50 thermometer with hy?rometer built in (I get the 2 muddled and didnt want to put the wrong word down!!)
we kept a note on the ide of the incubator as to when they were turned etc and also which way up, as they are hatching today I would say so far so good for ours. We are doing bantam eggs this time which are hatching bang on 19 days, I found chickens were a little hit and miss around 23 days to hatch.
Dont forget of course they may not make it even if they do hatch :( but its such a wonderful experience sorry I waited 46 years to see it!

Hope you have a wonderful time and learn loads

Becks :) xx

Re: New Project :-)

Posted: Wed May 15, 2013 10:03 am
by mrsflibble
awww! this is a great idea! two of my home ed friends (both seasoned chicken keepers) are brooding chicks right now, partly because they want more chickens and partly because it's a very good teaching experience for their kids, I think it's a lovely idea!

Re: New Project :-)

Posted: Wed May 15, 2013 10:15 am
by JulieSherris
Hello !! Well well.... I've not been in for aaaaages :-D

SG my luvly - as most of the old gang know, YOU only ask questions when you're being a tad self-doubtful lol
I have a couple of inc's here & used them very well in the first couple of years. Now I leave it to the broodies - after getting 28 ducks (not a problem) then rearing them with the hens/geese/ducks (not a problem) and them taking orders for oven ready ducks (not a problem) finding meself with an order for 6 on one day... ut oh... I HATE plucking ducks :-D THERE was the problem.... lol
So yeah, broodies do us proud now.

So - at school hunni - check the heat, check the humidity - don't be toooooo worried, broody hens never have thermometers or hygrometers & I found that the fussier I was the more failures I had.
Try not to open the incubator more than you need to - use wet sponges if it gets too dry in there - a large surface area of water will raise the humidity better, so a saucer of water with a touch of water will do better than a huge tall cup - if that makes sense? Also a fine mist spray comes in handy here.

When the chicks come, be ready for a failure or two - but that's also an advantage for teaching the kids. Chicks can survive quite happy for the first day or two, then make sure they have chick crumbs & water. Just dip their beaks in both to get them started.
Let the kids handle them then & you'll have kid-friendly birds, & hopefully a good few hens for even more eggs in future years.

Hope you & the kids & hubby & hens & dog are all fine luvly, catch you soon Mwahhh!!

(There see - a reply that's not judgmental - just like the old days) :-D

Re: New Project :-)

Posted: Wed May 15, 2013 11:50 am
by bonniethomas06
Hey SFG,

I think this is a great idea and I am sure you will be nothing but responsible with re-homing the chicks once they get bigger. What a great life lesson for kids - sure it would be hard for them to see the chicks that don't make it, but life isn't always fair, and the earlier they learn this lesson, the better. And you are hardly the first person to hatch chicks artificially!

I don't have a lot to add - I did hatch chicks using an incubator but had poor germination rates, so at one stage had one chick on it's own and had to buy in day-olds to keep it company. But have also had six hatch at once, so you just never know.

We set up a heat lamp in a box and didn't have any problems with dehydration, but did find at some times when they had gotten a bit older and didn't need the heat as much, they moved over to the far end of the box - at which point we lifted the heat lamp up a bit further.

You could try putting some pebbles in the saucer of water so that it is shallow and the chicks don't drown in it. And be prepared to clean out the box every day,if they are anything like mine were, they will spread the chick crumb about and then poo and wee all over it within a couple of hours!

Lastly - we had one chick whch had bandy wings and legs, where the wings were out in a W shape (pointing upwards) most of the time and it couldn't walk, poor thing. We ended up putting it out of it's misery, but this might be a bit tricky to deal with the youngsters? Although, again, life is hard and the earlier this is learnt, the better in my opinion!

Good luck with it, sure it will be a really worthwhile experience for you, them and the chicks.

Bonnie x

Re: New Project :-)

Posted: Wed May 15, 2013 3:02 pm
by MuddyWitch
Maybe a tad more thinking about the whole reason you think this would be 'good' for the kids? A decent dvd showing a free range chick being hatched by a broody would be better than bringing living creatures into the world for 'fun'. A trip to a City Farm is always very informative for youngsters AND GREAT FUN. A good City Farm will show all aspects of livestock, but in a controlled, educational way.

Or are you going all the way? Rearing to six weeks, killing & eating said chicks? Or are you planning on keeping the females for laying & culling the males? Like real life?

Just my t'penoth.


Re: New Project :-)

Posted: Wed May 15, 2013 6:07 pm
by Jandra
Well, watching a video of a house cat is hardly the same as actually having one purring in your lap. I know what I prefer as an experience (and since I am not allergic, it actually is the live cat).

Watching a dvd simply is not the same as a live experience. This is the stuff where kids talk about after they are grown. They may get to touch the chicks and smell chick poo No dvd allows that. Many of these children might not have a chance to get this close to some real, live creatures until they themselves get to decide what to do with their lives. If done responsibly, it doesn't harm the chicks, so why would you be against it?

Re: New Project :-)

Posted: Thu May 16, 2013 2:31 pm
by MuddyWitch
Because I believe in treating animals with respect, not as spectacles.

Having the eggs hatch in the sterile environment of the classroom is teaching the kids that these creatures are 'disposable' OR it 'disneyfies' with the false 'happily-ever-after' ending.

My point to SG was 'What are you hoping to teach?'
That animals are brought into this world to be exploited?
Are you ready for the questions that the kids will have?
'Please Miss, what happens next?'
What will you say?
That all male chicks are exterminated at just a few hours old, that the females are turned into egg-factories for about a year then killed, or that they are fattened for the table. OR will you lie? (I very much doubt that, btw) Say that they 'all-go-to-live-on-farm'?!!!
What about the question of battery verses free range? (I'm sure your pupils are bright enough to bring this up) Or other meat animals?
What next?
Hand-rearing a lamb?

Of course kids should be taught the miracle of life: but a jar of frog spawn which they can release into the pond from whence it came, or a catapillar, going into crysalis & then butterfly, which can be released into the school grounds, might be a better choice of subject than a 'food' animal.

Also, whist I agree, a video/dvd doesn't give you the feel of the animal, it does avoid the health issues. What if one (or more) of the kids is allergic to chicks/hay/straw etc?

For the record, I taught our two at home, & both were brought up to enjoy eggs & meat, but understand EXACTLY how that food ended up on their plate. Both our girls, at the appropriate age, watched us kill a chicken, helped to pluck it, then helped to cook & eat it. Unless you are prepare to at least discuss all these issues (& have parental & governor consent, in a school) I think you are risking problems.


Re: New Project :-)

Posted: Thu May 16, 2013 3:42 pm
by diggernotdreamer
I have to congratulate MW on the most sensible posting on this thread.

The RSPCA have serious concerns on this subject and have a document on their website Breeding Chicks in Schools.

SFG, you still haven't said what you plan to do with the resultant chicks. From exerience of keeping poultry for 25 years, I can tell you that at least half will be males and VERY difficult to home. Are you planning to cull down the males and keep the hens yourself? I once ended up giving a home to 15 ducklings which had been hatched under similar conditions and there had been lots of offers of homes which when the time came, there was a range of excuses why they couldn't take them on, last minute holidays, sick relatives etc.

And as for what next a lamb .... A small lamb was found wandering on a busy road, it was brought to me as I was well known in the area for taking in unwanted dogs, pigs, chickens, ducks rabbits and injured wildlife. It was cold, frightened and hungry. Eventually, I found out it had been borrowed by a local school for six weeks for the children to pet and get to know. They had given it CAT biscuits as a treat and then everyone had gone home for the weekend and they had forgotten to rota someone to come and look in on it and it had escaped. The headmistress came and collected him and I asked what they were going to do with him and she said he would just go back on the farm with the other lambs when they had finished with him. So he had been humanised and then was going to go to slaughter with the other lambs when the time came, how cruel is that to the lamb and the children. After that incident, a few of the parents did say to me that they were not happy with the issue and that they now had to explain that yes the lamb on the plate was the same as the little lamb they had been petting and they would prefer to tell their children themselves about animals and meat.

Re: New Project :-)

Posted: Thu May 16, 2013 5:29 pm
by boboff

It's okay I know to have differing opinions on these things.

My children have seen us raise Quail, Chickens, Turkeys, and Pigs, they have all be looked after and killed, they have gutted fish, and seen kittens be born, and cats die, it is the way of the world, my kids are ace, and have a respect for animals and food, as that is what Chickens are FOOD. They eat chicken raised in Factory Scale Incubators, why should this be a concern?

It's now cruel to pet a Lamb or a pig as it's going to go back to the herd and be shot???? I am sorry but I don't agree.

My first episode with Pigs we loved scratching there ears and getting them to make "Mutley" noises, we also really enjoyed the crackling....

Sunflower girl, my experience is that incubation is harder for chickens than quail, but it depends on the quality of the eggs. Really Insulate your incubator as much as you can, and keep it in a cupboard where it will get as little draft as possible, and do what they say about humidity, and get a least two humidity and temp probes, or make sure they are calibrated as 1/2 a degree makes a HUGE difference.

With chickens the best I ever got was low 60%, and they will need checking in school on a Saturday and Sunday, as best not to move the unit once up and running.

Might also be worth looking at a UPS type arrangement in case of powercuts!

Cockerals eat reasonably after 18 to 20 weeks, best home is someones freezer!