Here at Hopefield Animal Sanctuary we’re not just about giving a home to unwanted or neglected animals, we’re also striving to teach adults and children to understand more about the care of animals and the ethics of animal ownership. In the past few weeks we have been inundated with calls from nurseries and schools looking for us to re-home the chicks they’ve hatched as part of their life cycle lessons, and sadly we’re already at capacity when it comes to our feathered friends. We know that other local sanctuaries are also struggling to cope with the volume of chicks that, now the lesson is over, are faced with nowhere to live or to care for them. So, what does happen to these chicks? Read on to find out more about the sad truth of hatching programmes in schools…
A life cycle lesson or a lesson in animal neglect?
Of course, we understand that schools are keen to make lessons engaging, relatable and interactive, but using live chicks and ducklings to achieve this is actually teaching the children that animals are disposable. The ethical and welfare issues related to hatching eggs very much outweigh any educational benefits gained by students. Chickens are hugely social creatures, with chick’s mums ‘talking’ to them, just like human mothers do, before they’re even born. Incubated chicks are robbed of this contact, and so much more.
The wrong lesson
With the best intentions, schools often do not have the necessary expertise to deal with hatching chicks. To get the bedding, food and circumstances right is not easy, not to mention the fact that schools are empty at the weekend and so the chicks are left unattended. And then, of course, there’s the even more important welfare concern of what happens at the end of the project to the hatchlings? Many of the organisations that arrange the ‘hatching kits’ will offer to take the birds back and it is there that they are slaughtered. Yes, you read that right, these chicks are hatched for a school project and then killed.
These living beings are NOT for entertainment, and it breaks our heart that so many chicks are bred to be thrown away once students have moved on to the next project.
In a nutshell: 5 reasons to avoid hatching programmes
1. They teach children that animals are for entertainment and, ultimately, disposable.
2. The chicks spend their entire, short life in confinement only to be slaughtered by the ‘hatch kit’ companies when the project is finished.
3. Chickens have complex social bonds yet when used as classroom tools they’re denied everything that’s natural to them.
4. Without their mother’s natural ‘rotation’ method, incubator-grown chicks can become deformed because their needs are not properly met. It is not uncommon for a chick’s organs to stick to the side of their shell…
5. Chickens have move than 30 sound vocalisations and a mother hen teaches her chicks these before they even hatch. Chicks chirp back to their mum from within their egg, forming bonds. These programmes rob chicks of this development, of their curiosity and ultimately, of their life.
How can you help?
If you know a local school who has hatched eggs, or is thinking of doing so, then please do get in touch with them and voice your concerns. Send them this blog post or RSPCA guidance on this subject (which also has some great alternative teaching ideas) to help them understand that they are contributing to the unnecessary suffering of living, breathing souls. There are plenty of ways to teach children about life cycles, including visiting your local sanctuaries where they can see the daily lives of all animals, including chickens. We will happily talk to students about life cycles and get them involved with life here at the sanctuary so they can see for themselves how important being KIND to animals is.
Please do help us spread the word by sharing this blog and speaking out if your school is involved, or thinking of being involved in this needless cruelty.
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